A man visiting Port St. Lucie from Frankfurt, Germany was shocked to hear a former version of the German national anthem at Oktoberfest Saturday. The national anthem was changed after the Nazi era of World War II.
"If you grow up with the history and all the times you get confronted with the history and it’s not a good one, you think a bit different about that," said Andre Leitzbach. "It was the reason why I was confused."
Leitzbach said the Port St. Lucie Oktoberfest festival, held in City Center, had authentic food, beer, and music.
"They show Americans our tradition and fest and beer because we have nice beer," he said. "And it’s important. I like it.”
However, the musician who played the German national anthem chose the wrong version online.
"I was looking at my wife and said, 'Hold on, there’s something wrong,'" he said. "It was the wrong. We learned in school that we don’t have to sing that because Germany, it’s not above everything. So that was a strange feeling.”
Leitzbach said parts of the German national anthem were removed following Nazi rule during WWII. The lyrics were written well before the Nazi era, but one of the original lines means "Germany above all in the world." Due to the horrific events during WWII, the Germans changed the national anthem to exclude those and other lyrics.
"It’s not forbidden, but it’s part of the history and we don’t want to hear that on an official Oktoberfest," he said.
Leitzbach also took a picture of a flag representing East Germany, hung upside down at the Port St. Lucie Oktoberfest.
"From my point of view, it’s important if you go to a festival like that to understand the history and the background of that, German culture," he said.
The head of the local German American Club is from Germany originally. He said the musician there plays Eastern European music and is not from Germany. He said that musician accidentally looked up the incorrect version of the national anthem online, so it was an honest mistake.
"I'm not blaming everyone," Leitzbach said. "Come here next year, enjoy the Oktoberfest. It’s a very nice place."
The city of Port St. Lucie sent the following statement:
"On Saturday, Oct. 6, the Polka Band was not scheduled to play at Port St. Lucie’s Oktoberfest until 6:00 p.m. At 4 p.m., only one member of the Polka Band was scheduled to play. At that time, the German American Club President Gebhard Saup asked that musician to play the American Anthem and the German Anthem for the Parade of Flags and the Keg Tapping Ceremony. The musician agreed and downloaded the German Anthem on his phone. That musician did not know that there are different versions of the German Anthem, according to the German American Club President. He did not realize he was playing the wrong version because both versions have the same tempo, beat, and similar wording.
The City staff members at the festival also were unaware of the differences. The agreement between the City and the German American Club is that the Club is responsible for the traditional ceremony pieces of the event.
The City would like to apologize if anyone was offended by the piece of music that was played. It appears to be an honest mistake that the wrong version was chosen. However, the City will take steps to ensure this will not happen at any future events."