Dutch broadcaster apologises after subtitling German national anthem with Nazi lyrics

·3-min read
Germany’s Thomas Muller reacts after defeat to England at Wembley (Getty)
Germany’s Thomas Muller reacts after defeat to England at Wembley (Getty)

A Dutch broadcaster has issued an apology after erroneously subtitling the German national anthem, using lyrics associated with Nazi Germany, at the start of Tuesday’s European Championship football match against England in London.

The Netherlands’ main channel, NPO, displayed text in its subtitle service from the first verse of the Lied der Deutschen – “Song of the Germans” – which has not been used since 1952 due to its links with Adolf Hitler’s regime.

It includes the infamous words “Deutschland über alles / Über alles in der Welt”, meaning “Germany, above all / above everything in the world”, which were once proudly sung by Hitler and his followers.

A second verse, about German women and wine, was also scrapped after the Second World War when critics pointed out its sexist and distasteful connotations.

Now, only the song’s third stanza – which stresses “unity and freedom and justice” in its first line – is the official anthem of Germany.

“The wrong verse was accidentally shown. This is a mistake by one of our subtitlers,” NPO tweeted. “We apologise to viewers who were disturbed by this.”

England went on to beat Germany 2-0 at Wembley, which means they advance to the tournament’s quarter-finals to play Ukraine.

The game had an intense build up, largely owing to the fact England had not beaten the European nation since the final of the 1966 World Cup.

But this was made worse on the night when England fans were heard booing the German national anthem, sung before their own “God Save the Queen”, which was met with huge swathes of criticism from social media users and the media.

Twitter seemed to erupt with disdain about the behaviour of England’s overexcited fans, with the author Tim Walker writing: “This is not British. It’s not sporting. You just don’t boo the opposing team’s national anthem.”

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One man, from Scotland, replied to Mr Walker’s post reminding him he was talking about “English fans, not British”.

“This is English fans Tim. This is not typical British, Irish, Welsh or Scottish. In fact, it’s not even sportsmanship and the English fans should be ashamed.”

Meanwhile, palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke said: “Who boos the opposing team’s national anthem? Unsporting. Uncivil. Unbelievable. #ENGGER”.

It came after reports surfaced pre-match that the Football Association (FA) had emailed its 21,000 England Supporters Travel Club members asking them to be respectful of the Germany team, which it reiterated via public social media channels.

“Whether you are at Wembley Stadium, or watching from somewhere else, please support England in the right way, before, during and after the match,” the governing body said in the email. “This includes respecting each national anthem and the players’ choice to take the knee before kick-off.

“We want you to be able to watch the match in a safe and ­enjoyable environment that’s free from any discriminatory or disrespectful behaviour.”

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