Croatian School Accidentally Plays Hymn Associated with Hitler’s Reign to German Guests

Lauren Simmonds

Of all things you probably shouldn’t do, this ranks pretty high on the list.

The Brits always used to joke about ”not mentioning the war” whenever Germans were within eavesdropping distance, even if the conversations taking place between either party couldn’t have had less to do with it.

John Cleese, playing the useless and bad-tempered hotel owner Basil Fawlty famously said it on the short-lived but wildly popular comedy Fawlty Towers, and Germans and Brits awkwardly trying to avoid ever mentioning that period of time continues to this very day. It’s amusing, considerate, and a bit socially inept, but the desire to avoid causing accidental offense to each other says a lot about how times have moved very much on for these two former European enemies.

What happens, however, when you accidentally blast out a YouTube video of a hymn that people associate with Adolf Hitler to a group of Germans? That’s exactly what happened in a school in Čepin, in Osijek-Baranja County.

As Jutarnji list writes on the 16th of October, 2018, at the Vladimir Nazor Elementary School in Čepin, a rather large foot was put in a rather large mouth yesterday. Namely, during the official signing of a partner agreement with the Goethe Institute and after the playing of the Croatian national anthem, the German hymn “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” was played loudly out of a computer. This version of the hymn is commonly linked to Nazi ideology and the Hitler era, and owing to that, it hasn’t been officially used by Germany for a long time.

The guests from the Goethe Intitute were visibly disgusted when they were forced to hear this controversial version of the German national anthem, Glas Slavonije writes.

”Nein, nein, this is not the good version, turn it off!” insisted the moderator of the Goethe Institute program, Milka Jurković. The school caretaker was oblivious and left none the wiser in regard to what had gone wrong, saying he just did what was instructed of him.

In addition to teachers, at the school in Čepin that day was a representative of the German embassy Arne Hartig, the director of the Goethe Institut Matthias Müller-Wieferig, the chairman of the Osijek-Baranja County assembly Dragan Vulin, and city councilor Vladimir Ham, as well as a group of journalists.

After the incident, the official version of the German anthem was played and the program continued on without any sort of explicit public apology, writes Glas Slavonije, adding that the apology came only at the very end of the program, when the school principal Ilija Pavić addressed the group by saying that the caretaker probably clicked on the wrong link on YouTube.

”It certainly wasn’t intentional, they apologised and that’s the most important thing. I don’t want to say anything else about it,” Arne Hertig of the German embassy briefly stated afterwards.


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