The Hymn of Hate

I read about a poem that was taught in German schools at the turn of the century. It was called “The Hymn of Hate.”

Here’s the last the paragraph of the (translated) poem:

Take you the folk of the Earth in pay,
With bars of gold your ramparts lay,
Bedeck the ocean with bow on bow,
Ye reckon well, but not well enough now.

French and Russian, they matter not,
A blow for a blow, a shot for a shot,
We fight the battle with bronze and steel,
And the time that is coming Peace will seal.

You we will hate with a lasting hate,
We will never forego our hate,
Hate by water and hate by land,
Hate of the head and hate of the hand,

Hate of the hammer and hate of the crown,
Hate of seventy millions choking down.
We love as one, we hate as one,
We have one foe and one alone–
(Here’s a blog post from Connie Ruzich with the full poem)

German school students used to recite this hymn in school – that in turn helped the government recruit students for World War I.

The writer of the poem Ernst Lissauer, a German Jewish poet, went on to regret writing it as the effects of the poem lasted well beyond the war.

As Connie details in her post, the story took another tragic turn in the years following World War I. Germany, the country he so loved, rejected him as a Jew and accused him of “fanatical hatred” that was “utterly un-German” and “characteristic of nothing so much as the Jewish race.”

Poignant. Sad. Pointless.

Lessons about the futility of war and hate are lessons we don’t seem to want to learn from the past.