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Culture

Germany's "Song of the Nibelungs" chosen for the Memory of the World program

An epic Middle High German poem is to become the most recent German addition to the UNESCO Memory of the World documentary heritage program, the German UNESCO commission announced on Thursday.

open book from around 1200 a.D.

Priceless cultural heritage: "Song of the Nibelungs"

The 12th century "Song of the Nibelungs" tells the tale of dragon slayer Siegfried, and how he is murdered by Hagen von Tronje, who hides the Nibelung treasure in the Rhine river; of King Gunther and Kriemhild of Burgundy, of Etzel, King of the Huns and of Iceland's Queen Bruenhild. It is a tale of love and revenge, of greed and defeat, of magical cloaks and dragon's blood, and treasures lost forever.

The Bonn-based commission says the UNESCO register names the three most important and complete manuscripts of the "Song of the Nibelungs." The documents are kept at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, at Badische State Library in Karlsruhe and at the library at St. Gallen monastery in Switzerland.

Comparable to the Greek legend of Troy

With its 2,400 stanzas, the "Song of the Nibelungs" is regarded as an impressive example of the European heroic epic.

It was forgotten in the 16th century, only to be re-discovered in 1755 when one of the manuscripts was unearthed in an Austrian castle. It became a national epos when Richard Wagner brought the tale to the stage in operatic form: The Ring of the Nibelung, better known as the "Ring Cycle."

It is the 11th German contribution to the Memory of the World collection. Others include Grimm's fairy tales, a Gutenberg bible, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Memory of the World aims at preserving valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide, and making them available via the internet.

db/KNA/AP/AFP

Editor: Neil King

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