“Es geht eine dunkle Wolke herein”: Soldier’s Songs from Five Centuries

Throughout history, songs have addressed war and accompanied the soldiers. Many “soldier’s songs” found their way into everyday life. On 7 December 2011 at 1930h, a recital with soldier’s songs from five centuries will take place at Erich Maria Remarque-Friedenszentrum (E.M. Remarque Peace Centre) in Osnabrück as part of the supporting programme to the exhibition “Grensgevallen – Grenzfälle” (border cases). Günter Gall (vocals, guitar, dulcimer, lyrics) and Konstantin Vassiliev (guitar, reed organ, compositions) present their new programme “Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein” (a dark cloud is approaching) with German and Dutch soldier’s songs.

The eponymous soung was written during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1848):

Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein
mich deucht, es wird ein Regen sein
ein Regen aus den Wolken

wohl in das grüne Gras

Und kommst du, liebe Sonn, nit bald
so wesets alls im grünen Wald

und all die müden Blumen
die haben müden Tod

Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein
es soll und muß geschieden sein

ade, Feinslieb, dein Scheiden
macht mir das Herz so schwer

(anonymous, manuscript by J. Werlin, 1646)

A dark cloud is approaching
I think that rain is coming
Rain from the clouds
Well in the green grass

If you’re not coming soon, dear sun
Everything will rot in the green wood
And all the weary flowers
Will have their weary death

A dark cloud is approaching
We should and must depart
Goodbye, my dear, your parting
Saddens my heart1

During the First World War, more verses were added as “Gaskampflied” (gas battle song), e.g.:

Es geht eine dunkle Wolk herein
mich dünkt, es wird ein Angriff sein
Ein Angriff von den Feinden
mit dunkelgrünem Gas

(Dr. Erwin Wolfgang Koch, assistant doctor with the combat engineers; see Volksliedarchiv (folk song archive))

A dark cloud is approaching
I think an attack is coming
An attack by the enemy
With dark-green gas2

Songs from the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) will be included, too, as from the First World War, the Second World War (including the time of German occupation of the Netherlands) and contemporary issues such as the War in Afghanistan. The songs (including some by the musicians) will be supplemented by texts from Tucholsky, Brecht, Remarque, and Kästner, as well as by broadsheet illustrations by Olaf Thielsch.

The evening will be organised by the Erich Maria Remarque-Friedenszentrum, Erich Maria Remarque-Gesellschaft and Literaturbüro Westniedersachsen.

Recital “Es geht eine dunkle Wolke herein”
7 December 2011, 1930h
Entrance fee: 5€, reduced 3€

Erich Maria Remarque-Friedenszentrum
Markt 6
49074 Osnabrück

More than 900 other German soldier’s songs can be found at the Volksliedarchiv (folk song archive).

  1. Translation Bayer
  2. Translation Bayer

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