Loyalty to the Nibelung

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Loyalty to the Nibelung is a catchphrase that describes a form of unconditional, emotional, and potentially fatal loyalty . It goes back to the Middle High German term triuwe , which describes the personal bond in the medieval feudal system .

Relation to the Nibelungen saga

The point of reference to the saga or the medieval epic The Nibelungenlied lies in the fact that in the history of reception, “loyalty” has always been viewed as the quintessence of the Nibelungenlied. In this case, it is the unrestricted responsibility of a master for his vassal. Hagen von Tronje is guilty of the murder of Siegfried , Kriemhild's husband , and Kriemhild demands vengeance. The complicity of their brothers, the Burgundian kings Gunther , Gernot and Giselher , is more diffuse and varies in size. Kriemhild is ready to forgive them if they hand over their Hagen. The Burgundians refuse:

“Nune welle got von himele”, said do Gernôt.
"Whether our tûsent would be, we would all be dead,
the sippen dîner mâge, ê we give you a man
gæben ze gîsel: ez et will never be done, "
"I never leave your mînen friunt to the triuwen".
(Str. 2105 f.)

“God forbid that,” 'Gernot replied.
"And if our thousand of your clan were here,
we would rather die than
give a man here as a hostage: that would do us badly."
[...] "You won't find anyone in me who is loyal to a friend breaks. "

Translation: Helmut de Boor

The kings have entered into a legally binding and emotional bond with their friunt (their friend and distant relative) Hagen. Ultimately, the impossibility of isolating Hagen from them, with which Kriemhild is confronted, leads to bloody downfall.

Prince von Bülow's speech in the Reichstag

The term loyalty to the Nibelung was first used by Chancellor Bernhard Fürst von Bülow in his speech in the Reichstag on March 29, 1909 during the Bosnian annexation crisis. In particular, so that the absolute is allegiance of the German Empire to Austria-Hungary , given the increasing isolation of the Central Powers meant by the mainly from 1904 cordiale entente was evident between France and Britain. Since this comparison is connected with bloody associations, von Bülow tried at the same time to take away the cruel connotation of the term by referring to the peace-keeping power of loyalty .

Loyalty to the Nibelung during the Nazi era

Loyalty to the Nibelung was a standing and, towards the end of the Second World War, an increasingly popular fighting term during the National Socialist era . My honor is loyalty was the motto of the SS . “Loyalty” as a guiding principle was important in the dictatorial system, but also in actual politics; Hitler expected from those responsible in the Reich and from all soldiers a personal loyalty to be affirmed by oath - similar to the alleged Germanic allegiance. As a result, the whole people should grow together with Hitler into a unity (into a " people's body "). In addition to the loyalty that was important in terms of domestic policy, there was also a foreign policy parallel to the Nibelungenlied. Hitler acted militarily with great risk, so that enormous human casualties, even his own demise, could be expected.


  • Prince Bülow's speeches . Edited by Wilhelm von Massow. Vol. 5., Leipzig 1914, p. 127f.
  • Ursula Schulze: The Nibelungenlied . Reclam, Stuttgart 1997, here p. 248 and p. 292, ISBN 3-15-017604-2 .
  • The Nibelungenlied . In original text and translation. Edited and transferred by Helmut de Boor. Bremen no year

Web links

Wiktionary: Nibelung loyalty  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Single receipts

  1. ^ Karl Bosch, Helmut de Boor: Das Nibelungenlied Middle High German / New High German . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-15-050644-1 , p. 274, 275, 342, 343, 528,529 .
  2. Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer : Hitler's politics as an expression of a Nibelungen mentality. On the history of the impact of German heroism , in: Michael Benedikt u. a. (Ed.): Displaced Humanism - Delayed Enlightenment , Vol. V: ... Philosophy in Austria 1920-1951, Vienna 2005, pp. 1047-1057.