Sunday, 1 May 2011

Arbeiter, Bauern, gegen Faschismus !

Arbeiter, Bauern, nehmt die Gewehre nehmt die Gewehre zur Hand! Zerschlagt die faschistischen Räuberheere, setzt alle Herzen in Brand.

Labourers, farmers, take up the guns, take the guns into your hands! Smash the fascist bandits' armies, set all hearts on fire....the war submerging all countries is the war against you, prole! Labourers, farmers, take up the guns, take the guns into your hands! Smash the fascist bandits' armies, set all hearts on fire. Plant your red Labour banner on every field, on every factory - then a socialist World Republic will rise from the ashes of the old society!

The text is from 1941, about mobilizing the proletariat of the world to defend the Soviet Union from the Nazis. Ideas still relevant today - there was an updated version of this at the time of the Iraq invasion.   The music is Hanns Eisler, originally written for the film Niemansland (1931) directed by Victor Trivas.  It's copyright free and can be dowloaded in full HERE.

In the film, five men cheerfully enlist. In the trenches, they get cut off from their own lines and shelter together in a dug out. Gradually they get to know each other as men, not as enemies. When the shelling stops, they march out together. Where to  The film doesn't say but they're marching against a common foe - war itself.  That's when the Schlussmarch comes in, beautifully, no words. This is what socialism once stood for,. Blair admired Thatcher and said she was his role model. But even she would not have sold the country down the drain to please George Bush. "No alternative" now means "you must keep voting me in because you don't want the other lot". That's why they are scared witless that the system might change. Party above democracy. Ironic?

Although the film is didactic, there are some very good moments, such as the Jewish wedding and especially Louis Douglas, a black American who worked a lot in Europe where the colour bar was less oppressive. He's wonderful, singing and dancing and relaxing everyone else, though he himself is as scared as the rest of them.  There were quite a lot of black actors in European film, even during the Nazi era. Since France and Germany had colonies in Africa, there were thousands of blacks in Europe, some of whom had served in the First Wortld War. The French had entire battalions, who became prisoners of war after the fall of France. They were badly treated and used as slave labour (including as extras in Ufa films). Many died, though one later became the president of Senegal. One German-born African lived and worked in Berlin until he died in 1954. As for Louis Douglas, he went back to the US.

1 comment:

Mark Berry said...

I was only thinking yesterday how depressing it was that the TUC and other anti-cuts campaigners, let alone more broadly based political movements, did not use musical and other artistic means. If they consider music at all, they tend to buy into the very same Culture Industry rubbish that represses us in the first place. It is not so much that we don't have potential Eislers any more, but that nobody hears them: the evil genius of late capitalism...