Nicht Christus folgen, sondern Horst Wessel!

Now for something completely different.  This evening I came across a purported quotation from an anti-Christian Hitler Youth song.   I was suspicious, for it seemed a little too good to be true, but it appears to be genuine.  It ran in part as follows, in English:

We are the happy Hitler Youth;
We have no need for Christian virtue;
For Adolf Hitler is our intercessor
And our redeemer.
No priest, no evil one
Can keep us
From feeling like Hitler’s children.
Not Christ do we follow, but Horst Wessel!
Away with incense and holy water pots…[1]

A little experimenting with German leads us to the original, of which the translation seems somewhat inaccurate:

Wir sind die fröhliche Hitlerjugend,
Wir brauchen keine christliche Tugend,
Denn unser Führer Adolf Hitler
Ist stets unser Mittler.

Kein Pfaffe, kein böser, kann uns je hindern,
Uns zu fühlen als Hitlers Kinder.
Nicht Christus folgen wir, sondern Horst Wessel,
Fort mit Weihrauch und Weihwasserkessel!

Wir folgen singend unseren Fahnen
Als würdige Söhne unserer Ahnen,
Ich bin kein Christ, kein Katholik,
Ich geh mit SA durch dünn und dick.

Die Kirche kann mir gestohlen werden,
Das Hakenkreuz ist Erlösung auf Erden,
Ihm will ich folgen auf Schritt und Tritt,
Baldur von Schirach, nimm mich mit![2]

I.e.:

We are the happy Hitler Youth,
We need no Christian virtue,
Because our leader Adolf Hitler,
Is always our mediator.

No priest, no wrongdoer can ever hinder us,
From feeling like Hitler’s children.
We do not follow Christ but Horst Wessel,
Away with incense and holy water!

We follow our flags singing,
As worthy sons of our ancestors,
I am no Christian, no Catholic,
I’ll go with the S.A. through thick and thin.

The church can be stolen from me,
The swastika is redemption on earth.
I will follow it step by step,
Baldur von Schirach, take me with you!

We need merely imagine the environment in which such sentiments could be uttered without embarassment.  Such is the power of media control and suppression of any other opinion.

But where does this material come from? 

Among the search results is a court record of the trial at Nuremberg of Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Hitler Youth.[3]:

Mr. DODD: Refer to p.228 of the daybook.  You will find that a chaplain, Heinrich Muller, and a parish priest, Franz Rummer, were charged because they had discussed in circles of Catholic priests that the Hitler Youth were singing the following song on the Nazi Party Day in 1934: …

Wait until I have finished.

VON SCHIRACH: I haven’t found it yet.

Mr. DODD: It is on p. 228a and b.  My apologies.

Perhaps you will remember the song if I read it to you?  You know the line, “We do not follow Christ, but Horst Wessel”?

VON SCHIRACH: This song I am seeing for the first time, I don’t know it.

Mr. DODD: Well, I won’t read on.  However you note that the last paragraph in the day-book reads: “The attorney-general noted that there could be no question that the poem in question had been sung or circulated in Hitler Youth groups.  He believes, however, that the claim could be denied, that the poem had been sung on the Party Day, under the eyes and with the approval, so to speak, of top party officials.”

VON SCHIRACH: The third verse is “I am not a Christian, not a Catholic, Go with the S.A. through thick and thin.”  This shows that this is not a Youth song.  If the Youth sang this song, I regret it.  On the Nazi Party Day in 1934, as stated here, the song was not sung at a celebration of Youth.

Mr. DODD: OK.

VON SCHIRACH: The combined programme for the Youth event for Party Day I myself have read through.

I don’t know the song: I have never heard it, and I do not even know the lyrics.

Mr. DODD: You’ll notice that the last line is “Baldur von Schirach, take me with you!”  It is above all very surprising to the prosecution to hear that you as Youth leader did not know that significant disputes were taking place during these years between the clergy of all the churches in Germany and the Youth organisation.

We need not bother with Von Schirach’s response.  A man on trial for his life before a tribunal of his enemies will say what he feels that he must, but we need not pay any attention now.  Likewise, immediately before this passage, he attempts to pass off various incidents of anti-clerical abuse, encouraged by the climate of the times, as a popular response to some supposed currency transactions of local priests. 

All this, by the way, with the aid of Google Translate.  I am very impressed with how well it now handles German.

The way that an overpowering cultural force impacts on the church is, sadly, a subject that we in the anglophone world may find it useful to revise.  There is more sustained hostility to Christianity in our days than there has been for centuries, and the manipulation of opinion to “justify” this is everywhere.

  1. [1] Ernst Christian Helmreich, The German Churches under Hitler, 1979, p.267.  Google books snippet here.
  2. [2] Taken from http://www.digitale-schule-bayern.de/dsdaten/434/63.doc, which states that it was sung in the streets of Nuremberg in 1934, and contains a series of extracts from Nazi papers.  A reference for the song is given: Thomas Breuer, Verordneter Wandel? Der Widerstand zwischen nationalsozialistischem Herrschaftsanspruch und traditionaler Lebenswelt im Erzbistum Bamberg [=Obligatory change? The conflict between Nazi rule and traditional life in the archdiocese of Bamburg], Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, 1990, p. 131.
  3. [3] Friday 24th May, 1946, Online here.

3 Responses to “Nicht Christus folgen, sondern Horst Wessel!”


  1. Anthony

    If I recall correctly, Horst Wessel was simply a Nazi Brownshirt thug who was killed during a riot or something. His death was used as a ‘martyrdom’ by the Nazi propaganda machine, and that’s where the ‘Horst Wessel’ song came from. Josef Goebbels (the Nazi propaganda man) was a genius at this sort of thing, and I see writing similar to his from today’s Government spin doctors – from all sides of the fence! Scary stuff….

  2. Anthony

    …just looked him up on Wikipedia. He was indeed murdered, but at his door rather than in a riot. Still, I was correct about the propaganda use thereof :)

  3. Roger Pearse

    Your thoughts are mine. The idealisation of the vile is a characteristic of our day also. When the world sets its face deliberately against Christ, when its rulers deliberately embrace what they know to be wrong, as happens from time to time, then we must expect persecution.



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