Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Song of the French Partisans

The 'Song of the Partisans' was the Free French anthem
The Cross of Lorraine was the symbol of Free France
 The "Song of the Partisans" (in French, "Le Chant des Partisans") was the wartime anthem of the French Partisans. The French lyrics of the song were written by Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon who were uncle and nephew. It became one of the most popular French songs of the war years.   

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Origins of the song

Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon escaped from Nazi - occupied France to London ro join the Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle. It was in London that they wrote the words in French. Anna Marly (Marhr), the composer of the music of the "Song of the Partisans" was also based in London at the time. She had written the original lyrics in Russian, her mother tongue. The anthem is also sometimes referred to as the 'Song of the Liberation'.

Although it did not ultimately replace the "Marseillaise" as the French National Anthem, the "Song of the Partisans" is sometimes referred to as "The Marseillaise of the Resistance". It appealed to the fraternal struggle for liberty.

The song spread throughout the French Resistance from 1943 onwards. The BBC in London broadcast the tune twice a day to France. By that time many in the French Resistance regularly listened in to these broadcasts and picked up the tune. Then the lyrics were dropped into France by the RAF and they appeared in the clandestine Resistance publication "Les Cahiers de la Libération" ("Journal of the Liberation").

Thus the song spread throughout France in the months leading up to the Liberation and entered into history. As a consequence, it was felt that the original manuscript of the "Song of the Partisans" belongs to the French nation. It is now in the safekeeping of the Museum of the 'Legion of Honour' in Paris. By itself, the song may not have led to the liberation of Occupied France but it did at least play a part.

A number of French language singers have made recordings of "Le Chant des Paartisans", such as Germain Sablon, Yves Montand, Jean Ferrat, Johnny Hallyday and Mireille Mathieu.


Saturday, 28 April, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

"Song of the Partisans"
(Author's Translation)

Below is one possible translation into English of the 'Song of the Partisans' ("Le Chant des Partisans").

The Song of the Partisans
("Song of the Liberation")

Friend, do you hear
The black flight of the crows
On our plains?
Friend, do you hear
The muffled cries of the country
That is in chains?
Oi there! partisans,
Workers and peasants,
This is the alarm!
Tonight the enemy
Will know the cost of blood
And tears!

Come up from the mine,
Come down from the hills,
Get out of the straw
Guns, bullets,
Grenades ...
Oi there! the killers
To the bullet and the knife,
Kill quick!
Oi there! saboteur
Watch out for your load:

It is we who break
The prison bars
For our brothers,
The hatred on our heels
And the hunger that drives us,
Misery ...
There are countries
Where people lie in their beds
Having dreams;
Here, you see,
We will walk and will kill,
And we will die.

Here each one of us knows
What he wants what he does
When he passes by ...
My friend, if you fall
A friend will come from the shadows
To take your place.
Tomorrow, black blood
will dry under the sun
On the roads.
Whistle, companions,
On the night of Liberty
We hear ....

My friend, do you hear,
The muffled cries of the country that is in chains?
My friend, do you hear,
The black flight of the crows above our plains?
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.


Saturday, 28 April, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

"Song of the Partisans"
("Le Chant des Partisans")
[Original French words]

For completeness, the original French language version of the song is also included (below).

(Chant de la Libération)

Paroles de Maurice Druon et Joseph Kessel,
Musique d'Anna Marly.

Ami, entends-tu
Le vol noir des corbeaux
Sur nos plaines?
Ami, entends-tu
Les cris sourds du pays
Qu'on enchaîne?
Ohé! partisans,
Ouvriers et paysans,
C'est l'alarme!
Ce soir l'ennemi
Connaîtra le prix du sang
Et des larmes!

Montez de la mine,
Descendez des collines,
Sortez de la paille
Les fusils, la mitraille,
Les grenades...
Ohé! les tueurs,
A la balle et au couteau,
Tuez vite!
Ohé! saboteur,
Attention à ton fardeau:

C'est nous qui brisons
Les barreaux des prisons
Pour nos frères,
La haine à nos trousses
Et la faim qui nous pousse,
La misère...
Il y a des pays
Où les gens au creux de lits
Font des rêves;
Ici, nous, vois-tu,
Nous on marche et nous on tue,
Nous on crève.

Ici chacun sait
Ce qu'il veut, ce qu'il fait
Quand il passe...
Ami, si tu tombes
Un ami sort de l'ombre
A ta place.
Demain du sang noir
Séchera au grand soleil
Sur les routes.
Sifflez, compagnons,
Dans la nuit la Liberté
Nous écoute...

Ami entends-tu,
Les cris sourds du Pays qu'on enchaîne ? ...
Ami entends-tu,
Le vol noir des corbeaux sur nos plaines ? ...
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ...


Saturday, 28 April, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further information

1. For further information in English about "Le Chant des Partisans" click on the following link:
Music of the Holocaust: Le Chant des Partisans

2. To view the cinematic version of Germaine Sablon singing "Le Chant des Partisans" click on the following link:
Germaine Sablon, "Le Chant des Partisans"


This article is dedicated to the men and women of the French Resistance in WW2 - the 'Army of the Shadows'.


Saturday, 28 April, 2012  
Blogger Cathie said...

Thank you Joseph for this most interesting post. I saw recently on French TV a program on a song that had a similar impact on the troops : Lili Marlene - originally aimed at the Germans, it became a hit with the Allied troops stationed near El Alamein, as they could hear it blaring from the enemy's loudspeakers!
But the Partisans is a much harder song, and still today when played at commemorations, it gives one the shivers. Not in the Johnny Halliday version, though!

Monday, 30 April, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Thanks for the comments, Catherine. The 'Song of the Partisans' is not that well known in the English-speaking world, unlike 'Lili Marlene' - another if my favourite wartime songs - which is popular in several European languages. In particular, I like the wartime French version sung by Suzy Solidor!

In certain respects 'Lili Marlene' can be seen as an anti-war song. Initially, it was rather too sentimental for the Nazi High Command.

To read the article I wrote about this for the BBC "People's War" article click on the following link:
BBC People's War (Lili Marlene article)

A little later (December 2007), 'The True Story of Lili Marlene', the wartime documentary by Humphrey Jennings was also discussed on this website:
2WW Blogspot (The True Story of Lili Marlene)

Monday, 30 April, 2012  
Blogger Cathie said...

Nothing to add! The documentary you mention is the one I saw - if a little late!- and your information is just all one needs on the topic. Thank you.

Monday, 30 April, 2012  
Blogger Alex B.H. said...

Thanks for sharing! And thanks for posting the original French song. It's always better in the original language!!

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