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Sea Green Singers - Die Moorsoldaten - Peat Bog soldiers - (meme air que Hymn des Femmes) - click on image to enlarge - cliquer sur l'image pour grandir

Peat Bog Soldiers is one of Europe's best-known protest songs. It exists in countless European languages, became a Republican anthem during the Spanish Civil War; was a symbol of resistance during the Second World War; and is popular with the Peace movement today. What makes it perhaps so poignant is the knowledge that is was written, composed and first performed in a Nazi concentration camp by the prisoners themselves.

This song was written by prisoners[1] in Nazi moorland labour camps in Lower Saxony, Germany. The Emslandlager [2] ("Emsland camps") - as they were known - were for political opponents of the Third Reich, located outside of Börgermoor, now part of the commune Surwold, not far from Papenburg. A memorial of these camps, the Dokumentations- und Informationszentrum (DIZ) Emslandlager, is located at Papenburg.

By 1933, one camp, Börgermoor, held about 1,000 Socialist and Communist internees. They were banned from singing political songs 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[3].

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

Die Moorsoldaten is the tune for Hymn des Femmes - http://ingeb.org/Lieder/wirsindm.html

1. Wohin auch das Auge blicket,
Moor und Heide nur ringsum.
Vogelsang uns nicht erquicket,
Eichen stehen kahl und krumm.
Wir sind die Moorsoldaten,
Und ziehen mit dem Spaten,
Ins Moor.
2. Hier in dieser öden Heide
Ist das Lager aufgebaut,
Wo wir fern von jeder Freude
Hinter Stacheldraht verstaut.
3. Morgens ziehen die Kolonnen
In das Moor zur Arbeit hin.
Graben bei dem Brand der Sonne,
Doch zur Heimat steht der Sinn.
4. Heimwärts, heimwärts jeder sehnet,
Zu den Eltern, Weib und Kind.
Manche Brust ein Seufzer dehnet,
Weil wir hier gefangen sind.
5. Auf und nieder gehn die Posten,
Keiner, keiner, kann hindurch.
Flucht wird nur das Leben kosten,
Vierfach ist umzäunt die Burg.
6. Doch für uns gibt es kein Klagen,
Ewig kann's nicht Winter sein.
Einmal werden froh wir sagen:
Heimat, du bist wieder mein:
Dann ziehn die Moorsoldaten
Nicht mehr mit dem Spaten
Ins Moor!

The "short" (three-verse) lyrics
Langhoff and Esser's original song[5] runs to six verses, plus refrains (see below). For performance - and, therefore, for most translation - shorter lyrics are used. These omit verses two, three and four of the original.

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.

We are the peat bog soldiers
Who march with spade on shoulder
To the moor

Up and down the guards are marching,
No one, no one can get through.
Flight would mean a sure death facing,
Guns and barbed wire block our view.


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.

No more the peat bog soldiers
Will march with spade on shoulder
To the moor