A festive occasion in the northern Hungarian town of Jászberény turned sour when the hosts played a version of a German anthem whose first two stanzas are associated with the Nazi regime, news portal Mandiner reports.
The occasion was designed to mark the arrival of a German delegation led by Vechta Mayor Andreas Michalkowski, who was there to receive the honorary citizenship of the Hungarian town due to his efforts to build bilateral relations.
The first stanza of the anthem played begins with “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles/Über alles in der Welt,” meaning “Germany, Germany above all/Above everything in the world.”
Written to the music of the 1797 hymn of Joseph Haydn “God save Emperor Franz,” the first two stanzas, written in 1841, became associated with the Nazi government in Germany. Though not officially banned, these two stanzas are never played at official occasions and now have the ambiguous designation of “part of the national anthem but unsung.”
The playing of the German anthem was stopped when a member of the German twin-city delegation made an unequivocal hand gesture to end it.
Jászberény’s far-right opposition mayor, Lóránt Budai, acknowledged the mistake and apologized for it.
“This, of course, was all an accident, and I apologized. I think the evening has continued in a way that has served to strengthen our friendship,” Budai said. He later told media that the culprit has been identified, and the incident will “not remain without consequences.”