Wicked Wilhelmites and Sauer Krauts: The New Zealand Reception of Ernst Lissauer’s “Hymn of Hate”
When the German poet Ernst Lissauer published his anti-English poem “Haßgesang gegen England” in the early weeks of the First World War, the effect was electric. The poem, translated into English and dubbed the “Hymn of Hate,” echoed around the globe, reaching as far as New Zealand where newspapers sedulously followed its international reception and published local responses. Given the nature of New Zealand’s relationship to Britain and the strength of the international press links, it is not surprising that news of the poem reached New Zealand in the early months of the war. However, the sheer volume of coverage given to a single German war poem in New Zealand’s press over the course of the war and after, as well as the many and varied responses to that poem by New Zealanders both at home and serving overseas, are surprising. This article examines the broad range of responses to Lissauer’s now forgotten poem by New Zealanders during the Great War and after, from newspaper reports, editorials and cartoons, to poetic parodies, parliamentary speeches, enterprising musical performances and publications, and even seasonal greeting cards.
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