Tennis fan kicked out of US Open by own idol for singing Nazi-era anthem

German tennis player Alexander Zverev told the match umpire that a spectator had chanted 'Deutschland über alles'. The man was promptly removed

German tennis player Alexander Zverev, who pointed out a 'fan' singing a Nazi-era anthem (photo: DW)
German tennis player Alexander Zverev, who pointed out a 'fan' singing a Nazi-era anthem (photo: DW)


A tennis fan was ejected from the US Open in New York on Monday, 4 September, after German tennis player Alexander Zverev protested that the man had been chanting words from a Nazi-era anthem.

Zverev said that the spectator had chanted "Deutschland über alles (Germany above everything)" during his encounter with Italy's Jannik Sinner.

"It's not okay to do that"

"He started singing the Hitler anthem. That was too much," Zverev said. "As a German, I'm not proud of that part of history and it's not okay to do that.

"He was sitting in the front row, so a lot of people heard it. If I didn't react, it would have been bad from my part," he said.

Zverev reported the spectator to the umpire, James Keothavong, at the halfway mark of the fourth set of his match against Sinner and pointed towards the stands.

"He just said the most famous [Adolf] Hitler phrase there is. This is unacceptable, this is unbelievable," he said.

Videos shared on social media showed the man being removed from his seat as spectators applauded.

Zverev, 26, was born to Russian parents, who left the Soviet Union amid its disintegration around 1990.

"I think he was getting involved in the match for a long time, though. I don't mind it, I love when fans are loud, I love when fans are emotional. But I think me being German and not really proud of that history, it's not really a great thing to do and I think him sitting in one of the front rows, I think a lot of people heard it. So if I just don't react, I think it's bad from my side," Zverev said after the game, which he recovered to win in the fifth and final set.

The victory moves him on to the quarter-finals, where he will face US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz.

Anthems pre- and post-World War II

The first verse of the German anthem once began "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt ("Germany, Germany above all, above everything in the world)". This was kept by the Nazi regime, which embraced the lyrics in a more literal sense than had been the case in past.

Germany’s national anthem was then changed in the aftermath of World War II to distance its people from the Nazi regime.

The tune and lyrics from the poem 'Lied der Deutschen (Song of the Germans)' remained largely the same, but only the third and final verse of the poem that the lyrics derived from was retained.

Since then, the German national anthem begins, to the same melody: "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit für das deutsche Vaterland! (Unity and justice and freedom for the German Fatherland!"

It was not immediately clear whether the person in the crowd was making an intentional political point or whether he was unaware of the changes to the song and its negative associations for many modern Germans. The changes made to the anthem may not necessarily be common knowledge outside German-speaking countries.

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