When the Burgundians arrive in Hungary, Lord Dietrich learns of their approach and is sorry to hear it, but he rides out to give them a warm welcome. He immediately tells them that Kriemhild still weeps for Siegfried. Hagen is dismissive, but Dietrich warns the men to be on their guard.
Dietrich distinguishes himself from the start as a figure who will seek to rise above the fray—and he is obviously perceptive, as Kriemhild hasn’t managed to disguise her grief from him.
Gunther, Gernot, and Dietrich withdraw to discuss Kriemhild’s state of mind in private. Dietrich reveals that he hears Kriemhild weeping and grieving for Siegfried every morning. Volker points out that there’s no stopping whatever will befall them in Etzel’s court, so they might as well proceed. As they do so, Hagen attracts much curiosity because of the rumors of his murder of Siegfried.
While the information about Kriemhild gives the men from Burgundy some pause, they remain steadfast with their plan. Volker beings to come to the fore as a figure sharing Hagen’s initiative and valor.
Kriemhild welcomes the men of Burgundy “with perfidy in her heart.” She kisses only Giselher, prompting Hagen to lace his helmet tighter. Kriemhild refuses to greet Hagen personally, instead demanding to know what he has done with the Nibelung treasure and why he has not brought it for her as a present. Hagen retorts, “I have brought you nothing and be damned to you!”
This greeting is meant to be extremely shocking. Past welcomes have been marked by great ceremony and civility; now Kriemhild insults her guests and, rather than offering gifts herself, demands what belongs to her. She is the opposite of the courteous, proper princess who once drew the gaze of every guest.
Hagen and the others refuse to let their weapons be stowed, and when Kriemhild is enraged by this, Dietrich quickly admits that he has warned them of her ill intentions—even calling Kriemhild a “she-devil.” She withdraws from them in fear for the time being. Meanwhile, Etzel, oblivious, reminisces about Hagen’s boyhood as a hostage in his court.