To express this ideal, they had a new song, the “Deutschlandlied”. Its initial phrase — “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” (“Germany, Germany above everything “) — was designed to mean that Germany was more important to people than their local monarch, than their city, than their home. It was to be not a regional, but for the first time a national anthem. That was its original purpose. History has distorted its meaning for the outside world. The trouble with the “Deutschlandlied” is that it is so associated with the Nazis. But it was originally designed as a democratic national song.

Jonathan Sperber in “Germany: Memories of a Nation” by Neil MacGregor.

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