In 1845, Adalbert Harnisch, a post office clerk in Elblag, East Prussia, writes down the lyrics for a song the Bürgerverein (Citizens group) of Elblag had asked him to write. He decides to use the melody of “Prinz Eugen, der elde Ritter” and soon he is able to publish the song. It is a political song and things might get tough for him, therefore he chooses to use the pseudonym Hans Albus instead. There is revolution in the air, the neo-liberalism movement is getting stronger and very soon this song is popular throughout Germany, especially during the revolution of 1848/1849. The first German revolution fails, but his song remains. It becomes a popular folksong, especially in the 1960′s.“Bürgerlied” (“Song of the people”) Whether we wear red or yellow collars, Helmets or hats, We wear boot or shoe. Or if we sew coats And turn wire into shoes, None of that matters. Whether we are able to preside, Or must scrawl files, Without a break and without a rest. Or if we attend university, Or if we make brooms, None of that matters. If we proudly ride on horseback, Or if we stride on foot, Onward toward our goal. Whether we are adorned with crosses in the front Or are forced to carry a cross on our backs, None of that matters. However, if we build something new, Or only digest what is old, The way a cow digests the grass. If we make something in this world, Or only gaze upon the world, That is what matters! If we have grout in our heads, And in our heart there is light and passion, So that it constantly is on fire. Or if we, behind a wall, Crouch down lazily in the dark, That is what matters! If we vigorously and actively And powerfully apply it where it can be effective Always courageously lending a hand. Or if we think drowsily God will take care of everything while we sleep, That is what matters! For that reason, you citizens and brothers, All members of one union, Whatever each of us does. Everyone who sang this song, If old or young, Let us do what matters!
You can listen to the song here: