Gesang der Moorsoldaten

 By Rudi Goguel, Johan Esser und Wolfgang Langhoff

 

 

 

“The Song of the Peat Bog Soldiers” is one of Europe's best-known protest songs. What makes it perhaps so poignant is the fact that is was written, composed and first performed in a Nazi concentration camp by the prisoners themselves.

 

The song was written by prisoners in the moorland labour camps for political opponents of the Third Reich located in Lower Saxony.

 

By 1933, one camp, Börgermoor, held about 1,000 socialist and communist internees. They were banned from singing the known political songs of the day so they wrote and composed their own. The words were written by Johann Esser (a miner) and Wolfgang Langhoff (an actor); the music was composed by Rudi Goguel and was later adapted by Hanns Eisler and Ernst Busch.

 

It was first performed at a Zircus Konzentrazani ("concentration camp concert") on 28 August 1933 at Börgermoor camp.

 

Alongside the original German text, a fairly literal English translation is given.

 

 

Refrain

Wir sind die Moorsoldaten

und ziehen mit dem Spaten ins Moor

Wir sind die Moorsoldaten

und ziehen mit dem Spaten ins Moor

We are the peat bog soldiers,

Marching with our spades to the moor.

We are the peat bog soldiers,

Marching with our spades to the moor.

Wohin auch das Auge blicket,

Moor und Heide nur ringsum.

Vogelsang uns nicht erquicket.

Eichen stehen kahl und krumm.

Refrain

Far and wide as the eye can wander,
Heath and bog are everywhere.
Not a bird sings out to cheer us.
Oaks are standing gaunt and bare.

Heimwärts, heimwärts jeder sehnet,

zu den Eltern, Weib und Kind.

Manche Brust ein Seufzer dehnet.

weil wir hier gefangen sind

Refrain

Homeward, homeward we are yearning
to the parents, wife and children,
some chests are widened with a sigh,
because we are locked up here.

 

 

Auf und nieder geh´n die Posten

keiner, keiner kann hindurch

Flucht wird nur das Leben kosten,

Vierfach ist umzäunt die Burg

Refrain

Up and down the guards are marching,
No one, no one can get through.
Escape will cost your life
Four-fold are the castle’s walls.

. Refrain

Doch für uns gibt es kein Klagen

ewig kann nicht Winter sein.

Einmal werden froh wir sagen

Heimat du bist wieder mein.

Refrain

But for us there is no complaining,
Winter will in time be past.
One day we shall rise rejoicing.
Homeland, dear, you're mine at last.

Refrain

Hier in dieser öden Heide

ist das Lager aufgebaut

wo wir fern von jeder Freude

hinter Stacheldraht verstaut

Refrain

Here inside this barren marshland
Is built up the camp.
Where we are far off every joy
Are locked up behind barbed wire.

Refrain

.Dann zieh´n die Moorsoldaten

nicht mehr mit dem Spaten ins Moor

Dann zieh´n die Moorsoldaten

nicht mehr mit dem Spaten ins Moor.

Refrain

No more the peat bog soldiers

Will march with our spades to the moor.

No more the peat bog soldiers

Will march with our spades to the moor.

Refrain

Morgens ziehen die Kolonnen

durch das Moor zur Arbeit hin.

Graben bei dem Brand der Sonne,

doch zur Heimat steht der Sinn

Refrain

In the morning all of us
Go to work in the bog.
Digging under the searing sun,
But our mind is at home. .

Refrain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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