Mousethief's words are most close to what I remember. I think I should give you a translation before I continue.
Der gute Kamerad (!)
The Good Comrade
Ich hatt' einen Kameraden,
I had a comrade,
Einen bessern findst du nit.
Never will you find a better one.
Die Trommel schlug zum Streite,
The drum sounded ('beat') for battle (for 'quarrel')
Er ging an meiner Seite
He was walking by my side
|: Im gleichen Schritt und Tritt. :|
With even step and tread (maybe bad but literal)
Eine Kugel kam geflogen:
A bullet came flying:
Galt sie (!) mir oder galt sie (!) dir?
Was it meant for me or was it meant for you?
Ihn hat es weggerissen,
It was he who was was torn away,
Er lag vor meinen (!) den Füßen
He lay at my feet
|: Als wär's ein Stück von mir :|
Like (as if he was) a piece of myself
Will mir die Hand noch reichen,
Still (he) is reaching for my hand / still wants go give me his hand, (present tense, yes)
Derweil ich eben lad'. While I am just loading (my gun)
"Kann dir die Hand nicht geben, "Can't give you my hand,
Bleib du im ew'gen Leben
Remain in eternal life (=heaven)
|: Mein guter Kamerad!" :| My good comrade!"
(!) means that I here changed something already mentioned above.
Now may I add a comment from a victim's point of view? I DO NOT LIKE THIS SONG! And I'm not that enchanted of seeing it mentioned here. But these are personal feelings, and I can imagine that other people are also hurt by things that in turn don't mean anything to me. That's freedom of speech, and I do respect it. And I support it at least because we can learn what other people are hurt by.
You know this song was written at a time when the whole world had just freshly rebooted. Some kind of power-on reset had been initiated by a severe system crash which occured because things had never worked correctly (as Windoze) so it was just a matter of time that a fatal error occurred (resulting in the french revolution and everything that followed not only in France).
When SCANDISK had run (i.e. Napoleon was not a problem any more) some people considered changing the operating system. So did the germans, who had been divided into many, many small countries up to then. There was a movement for uniting in order also become one of the big ones. And there was an atmosphere of common patriotism which allowed Uhland & Co to sell products like this, not so bad, just imagine northern irish catholics and protestants come up with some conscience resulting in songs like "The new green-orange flute" or "One field of orange and green", i.e. uniting while separating from everything outside.
But do I have to mention the consequences finally resulting from that separation?! I didn't have to participate in any world war, but my whole school days were poisoned by the shock of those who had. Only texts telling how cruel war was (not: is! - there would have been enough present wars to tell about), how bitter hunger was (see above) and also how bad germans are were considered good literature. Also, my father and grandfather didn't seem to know anything to tell but stories of war, war, war... (Not of the wars that happened during that time, Korea, Vietnam, Middle East etc, they seemed to be blind for what was happening right then.) I AM FED UP!
This song conjures some good concepts. Friendship. If you loose a friend you loose a piece of yourself. And often it may be difficult to tell the one who suffers from something from the one this was aimed at (who 'should have' suffered).
But may I correct some possible misunderstandings, especially to some of my younger compatriots, but not restricted to them:
1) I is NOT necessary to start a war and/or join the army and/or march into battle to experience friendship.
2) Marching synchronously (is that some correct expression?) IS NOT friendship.
3) Loading a gun is HARDLY EVER more important than a friend. (What about helping him first instead of trying to kill another man? Well, in order to do so it might be necessary to defend yourself first, and in order to do so, it also might be necessary to load your gun first, but this is not what is told in this song!)
In general: Friendship is made up by being a friend to a friend, not by being an enemy to some common enemy. Apply friendship in peace - if you succeed you won't need war any more.
To everybody who read this up to here: Thank you.