Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben

Father of the German National Anthem...
and the Texas-German Anthem

August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, 1798-1874, one of the most popular poets of modern Germany, was born in Fallersleben (now Wolfsburg), Brunswick-Lüneburg, the son of a prominent merchant who was mayor of the city. After receiving a classical education in Helmstedt and Braunschweig, he attended the universities of Göttingen and Bonn, originally to study theology. He decided upon literature instead.

While still a student at Göttingen, he befriended the Grimm brothers, whose influence, especially that of Jacob, is reflected in his own works and preoccupation with folk literature. He was a German language and literature professor, then custodian of the university library at Breslau until 1838. He was deprived of his chair in 1842 in consequence of his offensive political songs of 1840-1841 and forced to leave.

He spent his exile traveling through Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and lived for a time in Mecklenburg, becoming a naturalized citizen. After the revolution of 1848, he returned to Prussia and was restored to his rights. He married in 1849, and during the next ten years lived first in Bingerbrück, then Neuwied, and later in Weimar. In 1860, he was appointed librarian to the Duke of Ratibor at the monasterial castle of Corvey near Höxter on the Weser, where he died in 1874.

He was one of the most effective of the political poets and helped pave the way for the revolutions of 1848. Although he was not a trained musician, he composed melodies for many of his poems, and many of them are sung even today, including the best known “Das Lied der Deutschen” (which became the national anthem of Germany) which he which he composed in the library of castle Corvey and later set to Joseph Haydn’s homage to Kaiser Franz in 1797.

The lyrics were written in 1841 on Helgoland Island, then a British possession. After the small island was traded to Germany in 1890, a monument to honor him was erected in 1891, but it was later destroyed by Allied bombs in World War II. Hoffmann von Fallersleben ranks among the most astute students of ancient Teutonic literature and was one of the most cultivated of German scholars. August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben is buried on the Corvey cemetery.

Hoffmann von Fallersleben was also an author of Texas lyrics! During Hoffmann’s political exile, he was an outspoken political liberal who supported the growing unrest in the various German lands, and during this time his association with Texas began. In 1843, he and poet Gustav Dresel became acquainted. Dresel had recently returned from Texas, and his stories and his Texas journal fascinated Hoffmann who edited the work and supplied an introduction, although Dresel’s Texas journal was never published in Germany.

Hoffmann befriended some of the Texas enthusiasts and immigrants around 1845 when he wrote his first poem about the Lone Star emblem, “Der Stern von Texas.” He later compiled a collection of thirty-one Texas songs, “Texanische Lieder” (1846). Although the title page stated that the book was written by German Texans and published in San Felipe, Texas by “Adolf Fuchs & Co.,” it actually came out of Wandsbeck, Germany. In 1852, Hoffmann made Texas one of the settings in a three-act opera, “In beiden Welten” and, in vain, he approached Robert Schumann and others to be its possible composer. The largest is his memoirs is “Mein Leben” (1868), of which volumes four and five are about Texas. He never in his life saw Texas.

Der Stern von Texas by Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben 1845 to the melody of “Nach Sevilla” –

Hin nach Texas! hin nach Texas!
Wo der Stern im blauen Felde
Eine neue Welt verkündet,
Jedes Herz für Recht und Freiheit
Und für Wahrheit froh entzündet –
Dahin sehnt mein Herz sich ganz.

Hin nach Texas! hin nach Texas!
Wo der Fluch der Überlief’rung
Und der alte Köhlerglaube
Vor der reinen Menschenliebe
Endlich wird zu Asch’ und Staube –
Dahin sehnt mein Herz sich ganz.

  Hin nach Texas! hin nach Texas!
Wo die Pflugschar wird das Zeichen
Der Versöhnung und Erhebung,
Daß die Menschheit wieder feiert
Ihren Maitag der Belebung –
Dahin sehn mein Herz sich ganz.

Hin nach Texas! hin nach Texas!
Gold’ner Stern, du bist der Bote
Unsers neuen schön’ren Lebens:
Denn was freie Herzen hoffen,
Hofften sie noch nie vergebens.
Sei gegrüßt, du gold’ner Stern!

On to Texas, on to Texas,
Where the lone star in its glory
Prophesies a world of freedom,
Beckons to each heart resounding
To the call for truth and justice–
There alone my heart would be.