Home > Art, Music, Creativity > 99 Red Balloons – Innocence and Violence

99 Red Balloons – Innocence and Violence


The 1983 album German group, Nena, had a war protest song that was sung in German, “99 Luftballons“.  Luftballons means Air Balloons.  It was very popular, and was re-written in English (not just translated).

In the story of the song, 2 children released 99 red balloons, and the governments interpreted that as an act of war.  Confusion and violence rising from innocence.

The song has been on my mind since the school shootings in Newtown, CT.  I grew up in Newtown, and was married in nearby Danbury in 1984.

The sound of Nena’s voice is innocent and wise at the same time.  Teaching us about peace and war in a child-like way.

I love the dancing on the video, and the styles.  Makes me feel like home.

Excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Luftballons

“While at a June 1982 concert by the Rolling Stones in West Berlin, Nena’s guitarist Carlo Karges noticed that balloons were being released. As he watched them move toward the horizon, he noticed them shifting and changing shapes, where they looked like strange spacecraft (referred to in the German lyrics as a “UFO“). He thought about what might happen if they floated over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector.[3]”

See more background info here-



English Version video

German Version video

English Lyrics

Songwriters: Mcalea, Kevin (Eng Lyr); Karges, Carlo; Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Joer;

You and I, and a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we’ve got
Set them free at the break of dawn
‘Til one by one, they were gone

Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, “Some thing’s out there”
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic lads, it’s a red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else

The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine Decision Street
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super-scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
[ From: http://www.elyrics.net ]

This is what we’ve waiting for
This is it boys, this is war
The President is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine knights of the air
Riding super high-tech jet fighters
Everyone’s a super hero
Everyone’s a Captain Kirk

With orders to identify, to clarify and classify
Scrambling in the summer sky
As ninety-nine red balloons go by
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine dreams I have had
Every one a red balloon
Now it’s all over and I’m standin’ pretty
In this dust that was a city

If I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go



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  1. January 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    I spent a summer in Germany in 1984 and hung out with young Army officers. I was between my sophomore and junior year of college. I found it interesting that both the English and German versions of this song were popular among the officers.

  2. truthtrance
    January 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    A catchy tune bringing back memories of another time. Fitting expression on Newtown.

    • January 16, 2013 at 2:56 am

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. January 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    a new song I haven’t heard before!

  4. Catherine White Photography
    January 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    The Newtown massacre is a tragedy that will live in the memory of so many for years to come. (interesting post Sally)

    • January 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      I appreciate your note, Catherine

  5. Kathleen Gick
    January 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Interesting to know the story behind this song.

  6. January 13, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    I grew up in East Germany around this time and this song was VERY popular among my peers (I lived close enough to the border to West Germany to receive their TV and radio signals) I remember watching the West German news each night followed by the East German news (just in case there were questions asked about it in school the next day)

  7. January 13, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I always like this song, both versions. I never knew it was re-written though and not a direct translation. hmm

  8. January 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I didn’t know this song. An interesting connection with the Newtown tragedy.

    • January 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Harold.

  9. January 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    i think Nena writes children’s books now.

    • January 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      We all change over and over in our lives. She will probably always be creative, no matter what she does.

  10. January 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I hadn’t heard this story…..Wow!

  11. George J Lloyd
    January 14, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Nena was the heardthrob of my youth 😉

  12. January 14, 2013 at 12:22 am

    This song brings back so many memories… I was a junior in college when I first heard it in a car with my Princeton room mates. We were on a road trip to Yale, to spend a football weekend in New Haven, CT. Interesting connection you make with the recent CT incident, Sally. They don’t write songs like this anymore…

    • January 16, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Thanks Qui Vuong, I live near Princeton now. Small world.

  13. January 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I always liked this song but never knew what the lyrics meant until now.
    Thanks, sally.

  14. January 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Reblogged this on Three hoodies save the world.

    • January 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks for reblogging, Roger

      • January 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm

        No problem

  15. January 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing the story behind the song. I never knew what the lyrics meant.

  16. January 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    love this song!

  17. garyhyman
    January 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Never heard this story but know the song well. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  18. jmbills
    January 16, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Thanks Sally for sharing the song. I have never heard it before but really enjoyed it. Your post also reminds me of the healing power of music.

    • January 16, 2013 at 3:01 am

      Thanks for your comment You are probably too young! LOL

  19. January 16, 2013 at 6:17 am

    I am continuing to mourn the tragedy in Connecticut and not sure it will ever leave me…I have no personal ties as you do, just a love for children and a deep sadness for parents who must now live without their babies. I know of no other pain so deep.

    • January 16, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Appreciate your visit, Denny. It was just a month since the tragedy.

  20. January 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Sally, this was such an 80’s flashback for me.I am still horrified by the tragedy in Newtown.Thanks for sharing this.

  21. January 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Kind share. Love the song and how music is such a powerful healer!

    • January 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for your visit, Anita.

  22. January 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I was staying in Austria when this song was released – as a German language song that became an international hit it was wildly popular there. Thanks so much for posting this Sally – you brought those times flooding back.

    • January 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Sharon!

  23. meryl444
    January 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I never heard of this song and I like the way you connected it to Newtown. Thanks, Sally!

  24. January 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I used to love this song! Thanks for bringing back some memories for me! 🙂

  25. January 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Sally, Thanks for the post. I love that song, and I understand why you made the connection with Newtown. It seems we are living in a different world after that tragedy, just as the song expressed. I hope we can continue on with the same sense of hope.

  26. January 29, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thanks for providing this information.

  27. February 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I never knew this story either. You learn something new every day… Thanks for sharing, Sally.

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