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Swiss TV uses Nazi lyrics for German national anthem

This content was published on June 20, 2008 - 11:08

Swiss national broadcaster SBC, swissinfo's parent company, turned back time on June 16 when it offered "alternative" subtitles to Germany's national anthem.

The version mistakenly included the "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" first verse ignored since the fall of the Third Reich.

The faux pas occurred during the channel's live coverage of Austria against Germany at Euro 2008, with the tabloid paper Blick showing a picture of fans singing the anthem. Below them are subtitles available on most television sets reading: "Germany, Germany above everything, above everything in the world!"

Germany's will to win and superior firepower defeated the Austrians 1-0.

The first verse, which outlines a rather oversized Germany stretching from Belgium to Lithuania and northern Italy to the middle of Denmark, was popular under the Nazis.

Since the Second World War, West Germans have sung only the third verse of the "Deutschlandlied" with the starting lines "unity and justice and liberty for the German fatherland".

That verse alone became the official anthem in 1991 after the unification of East and West Germany.

"It was an inexcusable mistake," said Gion Linder, subtitling coordinator for Swiss Text, a subsidiary of the national broadcaster, according to Blick.

He told the paper that two young sports editors were at fault, but that the error was a case of poor research.

Swiss Text declined to comment when contacted by a news agency. A spokeswoman for Switzerland's state-owned television also refused to discuss the matter.

The full anthem was written by poet Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841, and expressed a yearning for unity in a splintered nation.

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