The 175th anniversary of Germany’s national anthem is honored on a 20-euro silver coin released by the German Mint in 2016. The lyrics to the German national anthem (“Deutschlandlied“) were written by August Heinrich Hoffman in 1841 while vacationing in Heligoland, a German island in the North Sea that at the time belonged to Great Britain. Hoffman wrote the lyrics to be sung along to a melody written by the famous Austrian composer Joseph Haydn in 1797. Haydn’s piece was titled “Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser” (“God Save Franz the Emperor”). It was composed as a birthday song for Francis II, who served as the last emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1792 through 1806 and later became the first emperor of Austria.
Hoffman, who penned his homeland’s national anthem when Germany was still composed of multiple states and kingdoms ruled by monarchies, desired that his nation be united by a common law and freedom. This soaring sense of patriotism bleeds through the anthem and glorifies a unified Germany rather than wealth and prominence of individual kingdoms. This notion of national identity is carried through in the first line of the anthem: “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt” (widely translated as “Germany, Germany above all else, above all else in the world”). The third stanza echoes Hoffman’s socio-political philosophy one step further: “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit (“unity and justice and freedom”).
Interestingly, Germany as a unified nation would not exist until 1871 – three decades after Hoffman wrote the anthem. German President Friedrich Ebert officially adopted “Deutschlandlied” as the national anthem in 1922. Only the first stanza was used during the Nazi era and, following World War II, an adapted version of the song was adopted by West Germany in 1950 incorporating only the third stanza. “Deutschlandlied” remained in that format as the national anthem after reunification with East Germany in 1990.
The 20-euro coin honoring “Deutschlandlied” was designed by Stuttgart artist Claudius Riedmiller and depicts Hoffman in a contemplative portrait.
The Bundesadler or Federal Eagle from Germany’s coat of arms centrally anchors the obverse of the 20-euro commemorative. To the lower right of the eagle is the “I” mintmark indicating the Hamburg Mint of Germany. Two horizontal rows of six stars directly under the eagle collectively represent the 12 stars of the European Union.
To the right of the upper row of stars is the inscription SILBER 925, which denotes the coin’s 92.5 percent silver content. Under the stars is the coin’s denomination, 20 EURO. A semicircular legend above the eagle and along the rim reads BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND, or Federal Republic of Germany; the coin’s date of issue, 2016, floats below the letters “LIK” in that inscription.
A three-quarters view bust portrait of August Heinrich Hoffman consumes the central portion of the reverse. Under his image is the inscription HOFFMAN VON FALLERSLEBEN, the name he chose in honor of his home district in the City of Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany and to help distinguish himself from other individuals with the common Germanic surname of Hoffman.
Below Hoffman’s bust are two horizontal lines of text that read EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT (“unity and justice and freedom”), the words from the third stanza of the national anthem, which also represent the unofficial national motto of Germany. The phrase 175 JAHRE DEUTSCHLANDLIED (175th Anniversary of Deutschlandlied) is inscribed along the top rim in a semicircular fashion.
|Year Of Issue:||2016|
|Mint Mark:||I (Hamburg)|
|Mintage:||Uncirculated: 800,000; Proof: 175,000|
|Alloy:||92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper|
|Edge:||Inscribed: SIND DES GLUECKES UNTERPFAND (“They Are the Pledge of Happiness” – words from the German national anthem)|
|OBV Designer||Claudius Riedmiller|
|REV Designer||Claudius Riedmiller|
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