I am fascinated with creation and adoption of national anthems. I find it especially intriguing with such countries that were once a union and then broke apart.

My interest/question deals with two aspects - practical and emotional.

Practically, from what I know, the anthem of USSR was retained by Russia in terms of melody but the words were changed. But what about other Soviet nations, did they plan for an anthem before the break up or was there a period where the anthem was commissioned? If later, what was used interim?

Emotionally, how did people transition from one anthem to another? I am not sure how much resentment was present about the Soviet Union towards the end, but it seems it shouldn't be flawed to assume that at least one section of people were forced into singing and "feeling for" a particular anthem, be it USSR's or the nation's newly adopted. How did the transition happen?

I have similar queries about Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and other similar erstwhile unions. On the flipside, how did things go about when Germany was unified?

I'd really appreciate links to sites that answer these queries of mine with extensive historical background, and, more importantly, their possible ramifications. I prefer English language sites but I can live with French and German too.

  • Could you highlight the question? I'm not entirely sure what you're asking.
    – MCW
    Sep 15, 2014 at 11:41
  • For Germany see Wikipedia: West Germany wanted no change. Sep 15, 2014 at 12:00
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    Are you asking about specific countries? European possibly? Because I'm sure it varies from country to country and across geographies.
    – Rajib
    Sep 15, 2014 at 15:28
  • @MarkC.Wallace The question is the content of the "Practically" and "Emotionally" paragraph. I thought the line preceding the paragraphs made it clear. I'll make it bold just in case.
    – vin
    Sep 15, 2014 at 15:38
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    @Rajib 1: It would greatly help if one can talk about as many countries as possible. 2: Not restricted to European (cited those examples off the top of my head). 3: The details about the said variation from country to country etc is exactly what I seek.
    – vin
    Sep 15, 2014 at 15:46

4 Answers 4


During its entire history, Czechoslovakia had two anthems (or one anthem composed from two songs): the Czech song Kde domov můj and the Slovak song Nad Tatrou sa blýská.

So, when Czechoslovakia broke up, the solution was simple: Czech Republic adopted Kde domov můj and Slovakia Nad Tatrou sa blýská as their anthems.

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    And probably because the solution would be too simple, this is not what happened. The Slovak anthem has been changed - one verse has been modified and a second stanza added. The Czech one remained unchanged. Aug 2, 2017 at 14:24

When Bangladesh became a separate country from Pakistan (transforming from East Pakistan into Bangladesh) they adopted a Bengali song written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905, called "Shonar Bangala" (Golden Bengal). Since one of the reasons for the aspiration of a new nation was the Bengali language itself, this seemed to be the right thing to do.

However, what is interesting is that even prior to Bangladesh becoming an independent nation, they never really adopted the national anthem sung in West Pakistan, the Qaumi Taranah. Instead they had their own alternate Bengali anthem, "Pakistan Zindabad".

In this case, it was therefore practical to have a new anthem to prove your independence and break from the former nation, creation of a new national identity. An important political requirement of any nation is that it have its own sovereign identity, so a national anthem proclaiming uniqueness and homogeneity (in this case the Bengali language being an underlining factor), becomes a good practical fit. However, it is important to remember that the aspiration itself, for a new national identity, is often fuelled by passion, and therefore its role cannot be neglected. In the case of Bangladesh there were passionate reasons for the demand for a new country, besides political ones.

  • Your full answer may have to come from several different answers about several different countries/regions. You might also want to have a look at an indirect reference source.
    – Rajib
    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:40
  • Thanks for the answer. I just want to make a point. I think countries that gain independence via struggle have it easy because one of the songs used for mobilization could be effortlessly adopted. It would be much more interesting to know about countries that split "peacefully", I mean not a full fledged war involving tens of thousands of troops and more of a political poker.
    – vin
    Sep 16, 2014 at 7:10

In the title to your question you asked about what happens to countries that split up, but in the body of the question you ask also about countries that got united (or reunited) and specifically about Germany. Perhaps I can answer this part.

After the second World War West Germany retained the old nationalist Deutschlandlied (“Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”), which had been the German National Anthem since 1922, with a text by Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1841), reusing a melody composed by Josef Hayden for the Austrian Imperial anthem in 1797. However, in West Germany usually only the last of the three stanzas was publicly performed.

The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) had a new national anthem, “Auferstanden aus Ruinen”, with a melody by the famous composer Hanns Eisler (1949).

When East Germany was reunited with (or rather: annexed by) West Germany in 1990 the Deutschlandlied became the anthem of the whole country.

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    I find unification equally interesting, just that not many have done it! I have a few follow up questions. Hopefully you could answer them briefly. 1. How did the former East Germany citizens react to it? 2. Was this even a point of discussion? 3. Looks like East Germans started singing a new song "just like that" twice. Which switch was harder for them, to the new one or back to the old one? 4. What happened to 'Auferstanden'?
    – vin
    Sep 16, 2014 at 18:47

Often enough, when a nation wants to separate there is enough animus to stop much yearning for the old anthems. In the American Civil War, the South quickly enough adopted songs like "Dixie" and "The Bonnie Blue Flag" as anthems.

At the war's end, Lincoln said in public that we could now play Dixie as an anthem too because we had captured it.

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