East Germans refuse communist anthem

June 9, 2004 at 5:30 PM

KASSEL, Germany, June 9 (UPI) -- Members of a German orchestra, including some from the formerly communist east, were threatened with firing for refusing to play a communist anthem.

The Kassel State Orchestra was asked to play "The International," an ode to the international spread of communism and the national anthem of the Soviet Union until 1944, before an audience of Volkswagen auto workers, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported Wednesday.

Instead of playing the requested piece, however, the orchestra substituted the French national anthem "La Marseillaise."

Adrienne Lochte, spokeswoman for the Hesse State Culture Department, said some members of the orchestra had been threatened with dismissal, but the culture department rejected the threats.

"We believe it is unacceptable to pressure in this way orchestra members who suffered under Communism," she said.

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