Early in his life, he fought for the abolition of serfdom, later against Napoleonic dominance over Germany. Arndt had to flee to Sweden for some time due to his anti-French positions. He is one of the main founders of German nationalismand the 19th century movement for German unification. After the Carlsbad Decrees, the forces of the restoration counted him as a demagogue. Arndt song "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?" acted as an unofficial German national anthem. Long after his death, his anti-French propaganda was used again, in both World Wars. This, together with some strongly antisemitic and anti-Polish statements, has led to a highly critical view of Arndt today.