Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A poignant song

In The Third Reich at War: How the Nazis Led Germany From Conquest to Disaster the concluding volume of Richard Evans masterly trilogy on the Nazi regime (it, however, stands on its own and I strongly recommend you get it) there are the words of a very moving and haunting song by Ilse Weber:

Farewell, my friend, we have come to the end
Of the journey we took together.
They've found me a place on the Polish express,
And now I must leave you for ever.
You were loyal and true, you helped me get through,
You stood by my side in all weather,
Just feeling you near would quiet every fear,
We bore all our burdens together.
Farewell, it's the end; I'll miss you my friend,
And the hours we spent together.
I gave you my heart, stay strong when we part,
For this time our farewell's for ever

Writing of Jewish composers imprisoned in Theresienstadt, Richard Evans says:

"Some of the most moving of these compositions were by Ilse Weber, who wrote both music and lyrics and sang them, accompanying herself on a guitar, as she did her night rounds in the children's ward of the camp hospital, carrying out her duties as a nurse. Born in 1903, Weber had worked as a writer and radio producer in Prague before her deportation in 1942. Her husband and younger son were in the camp with her; they had succeeded in getting their older son to safety in Sweden. ... The warm simplicity of her settings was never more moving than in her lullaby 'Viegela', which she reportedly sang to children from the camp, including her son Tommy, as she accompanied them voluntarily into the gas chamber at Auschwitz on 6 October 1944:

Viegela, viegela, vill
Now is the world so still!
No sound disturbs the lovely peace
My little child, now go to sleep.

P.S. I've tracked down the original lyrics, and an Italian translation, of Farewell, my friend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very touching song.... It is not one I have come across before.

I have several songs and poems, translated into French from Polish or Yiddish from the WW2 years. They are very haunting when you realise what was going on around the person who wrote them, and where they were first sung (often in the Extermination camps).


Monday, 17 November, 2008  

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