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happy? - Sept 3 (Moorsoldaten)

Abby Sale 03 Sep 05 - 10:09 AM
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Subject: happy? - Sept 3 (Moorsoldaten)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 03 Sep 05 - 10:09 AM

When the Nazis came to power in Germany they began arresting left-wing thinkers. The first to be imprisoned in the new camps were communists and socialists. In one such, Börgermoor Camp near the Dutch frontier, prisoners were encouraged to give "culture evenings" to entertain the guards. Actor-director Wolfgang Langhoff "produced" a song for one in August 1933. Its German name first appeared in 1935 in a book of the same name written by Wolfgang Langhoff, "Die Moorsoldaten." Langhoff asked poet Johann Esser to write the words and then Rudi Goguel set them to a tune from the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), with a few changes. The song got around.

Fritz Selbmann in "Neue Deutschland," April 17, 1965 wrote: "On the 3rd of September 1941, 70 prisoners lie in the bunks of a barrack room in a German concentration camp. They hear the shots outside, 465 on this particular night, and every shot kills a comrade, a brother, a communist. Every shot bores into their own hearts. they lie awake counting the shots, clenching their fists, trying not to cry out. Then something beautiful and terrible happens . . . in the farthest corner of the room a comrade begins to hum softly. The song is the "Peat-bog Soldiers." Slowly, one by one, the others take up the tune and by the fourth line, 70 prisoners, all political, almost all communists, are singing this hymn of defiance."

[Thanx Susanne Kalweit (Mudcat, 07 Jan 01) et alii]

Is this last story apocryphal? Most likely, but it's an awfully good story.
         Wohin auch das Auge blicket
        Moor und Heide nur ringsum.
        Vogelsang uns nicht erquicket,
        Eichen stehen kahl und krumm.

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
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Mudcat time: 27 October 10:13 AM EDT

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