• Steven Garner

German Unity Day: love, peace and more in Germany's Eurovision entries



Today, October 3, marks the 31st celebration of German Unity Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit) in the Federal Republic, a public holiday commemorating the formal completion of German reunification. It makes for a perfect opportunity to look at the country's Eurovision entries to date that echo the message of "love love, peace peace", which a certain iconic interval act championed five years ago as a sure-fire recipe for success.


Let's start by feeling the love!



Liebeslieder (love songs)


The German word for love (Liebe) or an expression of love is unsurprisingly the most common word or sentiment to feature in the titles of German Eurovision entries over the country's 64 appearances.


Love was toasted by Wencke Myhre in 1968 ('Ein Hoch der Liebe') and dubbed the only thing that lets us live by 3rd-place-finisher Mary Roos in 1972 ('Nur die Liebe läßt uns leben'). More recently, Michelle secured her country a top 10 position in 2001 with her song about those who live for love ('Wer Liebe lebt').


The tongue-in-cheek Schlager parody 'Guildo hat euch lieb!' - the performance of which saw Herr Horn step into the audience and ruffle the hair of former Eurovision host par excellence, Katie Boyle - is a knowingly overly sentimental declaration of love for a sweetheart by the singer; it garnered three lots of douze points and finished 7th in 1998. By contrast, three years previously, Stone & Stone's expression of love ('Verliebt in Dich') - on this occasion to God - failed to impress and finished last with a solitary point.



And, of course, we mustn't forget Lena's winning entry 'Satellite' from 2010: the word 'love' is sung multiple times throughout the song, as then-teenager Ms Meyer-Landrut lists the ways in which she has expressed her devotion (a new hairdo, the purchase of new underwear and even toenail painting!).


Which brings us nicely to Germany's only other winner.



"A little peace"


When 17-year-old Nicole Hohloch (performing simply as Nicole) took to the stage in Harrogate (UK), few could have predicted the scale of the success she would enjoy with her plea for a little peace, 'Ein bißchen Frieden'.



Not only did Nicole triumph on the night and record Germany's first win, she did so by a then-record margin of 61 points. In addition, the song topped the charts everywhere it was released, saw multiple (sometimes multilingual) versions released, and was covered by artists in even more languages.


In short, a song of peace undoubtedly paid dividends for a country divided as a result of war which was only some seven years away from the process of uniting.


There is, however, one fly in the ointment in the recipe for success advocated by Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw in Stockholm in 2016. They advised against songs about war, with the exception of ABBA's 1974 winner 'Waterloo'. But I'd suggest that a certain well-received, bellicose German entry also bears remembering.



Ode to a Mongol warrior


Picture the scene: Jerusalem, 1979. Mere moments before the performance of 'Hallelujah' by Milk and Honey that would see Israel win the Contest for a second time, six people - including camptastically-dressed lead singer Louis Hendrik Potgieter - deliver an energetic, disco-fuelled number about the exploits of an emperor who oversaw a period of death and destruction, Genghis Khan ('Dschinghis Khan').



Whilst a far cry from the angelic Nicole strumming her guitar, Dschinghis Khan - the group of performers and the song shared the same name - certainly struck a chord: 14 out of the 18 other national juries awarded it points, with four ranking it the best song of the night. The group's 4th place finish is certainly not to be sniffed at.



Honourable mention


Finally, one other German entry seems to me to be worthy of note today.



At the 1975 Contest, the - in my view - underscored Joy Fleming sang about the bridge-building power of music in 'Ein Lied kann eine Brücke sein', a theme echoed by the slogan of the 2015 Contest: 'Building Bridges'. A fitting message on this national holiday!


And to our German followers: Alles Gute zum Feiertag!