German songs and the French Foreign Legion

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Sauerkraut
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German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Sauerkraut » 01 Jun 2018 22:16

It is well known that after World War II many German soldiers were recruited in the French Foreign Legion, that was keen on getting already experienced men for it’s upcoming fights in Indochina.

It has had an impact on the FFL’s song repertoire that can be felt to this day.

The French pace is generally slower (especially in the Legion, where marching rhythm is only 80 steps/ minute), and the text is sometimes freely adapted, sometimes translated closely.

Here is a list of German songs and their French versions; many of them are also widely sang in “regular” units. In non-Legion versions some words change depending on the units, for instance “Légionnaires” can be replaced by “Parachutistes”…

I think it might be prudent to mention beforehand that the Legion has absolutely nothing to do with Nazism, and that these songs where sung proudly also by French officers that had been in the resistance and or in deportation… So if some people wanted to use that to make unfounded claims about the Legion, they will be the only responsibles for this!!! Simply the Legion has for a long time (at least from it’s creation until the aftermath of WW2) recruited mainly German citizen, and this is the only thing to be illustrated by this topic.

So here goes the list.
- Bombenfliegerlied der "Legion Condor": "Nous sommes tous des volontaires" (song of 1er RE)
- Lied der "Legion Condor": "La Légion marche" (song of the 2eme REP). There was a French version (Le chant du Diable) sung by the French volunteers in the Waffen-SS, the modern version as been pretty much "cleaned up"; still nowadays, although the devil is still present in the official text, I heard from a guy who served there that some officers are (were?) not comfortable with this and would prefer to have their men replacing it by "St. Michel" (Saint Michael is the Saint of the French paratroopers).
- In Sanssouci, am Mühlenberg: "Veronika".
- Lebe wohl, du kleine Monika: "Monika".
- Lili Marleen: "Chez nous au troisième", "Lily Marlene", and also sung in German.
- Panzer rollen in Afrika vor: "Connaissez-vous ces hommes".
- Panzerwagenlied: "Képis blancs"; the song is still very popular and is sung at the ceremony when new Légionnaires get the right to wear the Képi.
- Das Lied der Fallschirmjäger: "Le soleil brille".
- Auf Kreta: "En Afrique malgré le vent, la pluie". In one regular army paratroop regiment (1er RCP) it also has a version "Au terrain".
- Edelweiß: "L’edelweiss".
- Heia Safari!: "La petite piste", also popular in the regular army.
- Ich hatt' einen Kameraden: "J’avais un camarade", also popular in regular units. The German original is in the Legion song book, alongside with the French version. French cavalry of the regular army has its version: "La cavalcade".
- Westerwaldlied: sung in German. Out of the Legion, the 3rd Marine Parachute Regiment (3eme RPIMa, ex Colonial Parachute Regiment) sings a French text on the same air, "Si tu crois en ton destin".
- Die blauen Dragoner / Weit ist der Weg zurück ins Heimatland / Steig' ich den Berg hinauf: "Souvenir qui passe" (I think the second German song was actually adopted from a British song, so the French version might be adopted from one or from the other...) * the melody of "Weit ist der Weg zurück ins Heimatland" is indeed British: "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag"
- Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht: "Les oies sauvages". The fourth verse is in German, first of the original. In the officer school of the French army it is also sung; I’ve heard it was also popular amongst the French mercenaries in Africa in the 1960s…
- Im Frühtau zu Berge: "Les lansquenets". Also sung in regular army earlier, by now it is there forbidden (or informally forbidden, I am not sure) because it is very popular amongst far right movements. * the melody of "Im Frühtau zu Berge" is Swedish: "Vi gå över daggstänkta berg"
- Vom Barette schwankt die Feder: "Honneur, fidélité".
- Die dunkle Nacht ist nun vorbei: "Contre les Rouges" (Against the Reds) was a song of the French volunteers against the communists on the Eastern front; it was slightly modified to become "Contre les Viets" (Against the Viets) and became the song of the 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion; this battalion (by then regiment) was dissolved, but it is still the song of many companies in various Legion regiments nowadays!
- Lied der Moorsoldaten: "Le chant des marais", sung also in non-Legion regiments. * "Lied der Moorsoldaten" is a KZ song (anti-Nazi)
- Annemarie, wo geht die Reise hin: "Anne Marie du 2eme REI".
- Mein Nam’ ist Annemarie: "Anne Marie du 3eme REI".
- Es steht eine Mühle im Schwarzwälder Tal: "Il est un moulin".

So out of 65 songs in the 2014 Legion song book (64 actually, "Honneur, fidélité" not being in it for some reason, but it is sung, a 100% sure), we have at least 20 originating from Germany, and I might not know some German original versions!

Besides that, the 64 also include songs in German that seem to have been written specifically for the Legion:
- Schwarze Rose von Oran * a post-war German song, not written for the Legion
- Kameraden, wir haben die Welt gesehen * a post-war German song, not written for the Legion
_________
A bit of topic, but still relevant:
- Wir sind des Geyers schwarzer Haufen is in French "Les chacals"; the same can be said about it, as for "Im Frühtau zu Berge" (Les lansquenets), but it might have been sung in the army some decades ago.
- The Landsknecht song Wir zogen in das Feld is sung under the title "Le kyrie des gueux" (not in the army, as far as I know).

In the regular French army :
- Matrosenlied (Wir fahren gegen Engelland) is "Oh la fille" (mostly a Paratroopers song).
- Flandrischer Totentanz (Der Tod von Flandern) is "La mort".

[German titles and the rest of the list corrected + a couple of comments in red added by the host, Ivan Ž.]

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Sauerkraut » 02 Jun 2018 00:25

Thank you Ivan for all the corrections and comments! I had never noticed the similarity between "Die blauen Dragoner" and "Souvenir qui passe"!
Last edited by Sauerkraut on 02 Jun 2018 01:18, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Ivan Ž. » 02 Jun 2018 01:01

Cheers and thanks for taking the time to compile this interesting list. Any additions / further corrections are always welcome.

Ivan

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Sauerkraut » 02 Jun 2018 01:18

I would like to add that "Wenn alle untreu werden" has french version, "Chant de fidélité". Not a military song as far as I know, though. According to a book I've read about the Waffen-SS (Jean Mabire "La division Charlemagne"), the air is that of a french hunting horn call, on which were put german words in 1813. Could you confirm or infirm that there really was a "SS-Treuelied" written on the same air? Or was it the same words?

Can a complete version of "Die dunkle Nacht ist nun vorbei" be found on the internet? I couldn't find it, except a short part in "Das Gewehr über"... I think "Komm mit, Kamerad" is also on the same air! But it is much, much faster in german than in french, so at first I was not sure.

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Ivan Ž. » 02 Jun 2018 01:48

Sauerkraut wrote:I would like to add that "Wenn alle untreu werden" has french version, "Chant de fidélité".
The melody of "Chant de fidélité" is the melody of "Pour aller à la chasse faut être matineux". So it is a French song with another French song's melody.
Sauerkraut wrote:Could you confirm or infirm that there really was a "SS-Treuelied" written on the same air? Or was it the same words?
The SS simply used the old song "Wenn alle untreu werden" as their anthem (Treuelied). The song was sung to the melody of "Pour aller à la chasse faut être matineux" or to the melody of "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe" (today best known as the Dutch anthem). The SS used both melodies and the original lyrics, written by Max von Schenkendorf in 1814.
Sauerkraut wrote:Can a complete version of "Die dunkle Nacht ist nun vorbei" be found on the internet? I couldn't find it, except a short part in "Das Gewehr über"... I think "Komm mit, Kamerad" is also on the same air! But it is much, much faster in german than in french, so at first I was not sure.

Yes, "Komm mit, Kamerad" was indeed set to the melody of "Die dunkle Nacht ist nun vorbei", an NS workers' song composed by G. Blumensaat. (An excellent tune, by the way!) Unfortunately, I know of no complete versions of the original Blumensaat's song.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Ivan Ž. » 02 Jun 2018 11:16

Addition:

In Flandern sind viele gefallen: "La Colonne" (the Nazis also covered the old song, changing it to "In München sind viele gefallen").

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Ivan

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Sauerkraut » 04 Jun 2018 07:17

"La colonne" is the song of the 1er REC (1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment). It refers to the franco-syrian war in the 1920's.

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Knouterer » 05 Jun 2018 22:31

The French high command wasn't so happy about all those foreign influences, and considered that the French language and traditions were quite rich enough to provide all the singing needed.
In 1987, the Etat-major de l'armée de terre issued Circular no. 2663 pointing out that the official repertoire was contained in TTA 107, while other songs were permissible subject to approval by the chefs de corps, provided (of course ...) that the melody was based on the répertoire national des marches militaires, and that the text was in accordance with the tradition and history of the branch, service or regiment concerned.

A list of officially forbidden songs was added, divided in categories:

1 - songs related to the German occupation: Lili Marlène, Les Lansquenets, Les Oies Sauvages, and some others;

2 - songs "incompatible with republican traditions": Les Bleus sont là, La Marseillaise des Blancs, Le Chant du Diable, Le Mercenaire, and others;

3 - songs consisting partly or mainly of unsoldierly exclamations, whistling, "et autres borborygmes de liaision";

4 - songs sung in German like "Ich hatt' einen Kameraden", "Kameraden, wir haben die Welt gesehen", etc.

Officers were furthermore enjoined to ensure, when troops were in bivouac during exercises, "une gaieté de bon aloi ou s'épanouisse un humour dynamique écartant la vulgarité pour conserver au chant sa vocation de catalyseur d'un tonique rayonnant".

Beautiful.

However, I understand that the Foreign Legion was (very wisely) granted a bit more freedom in this respect.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Sauerkraut » 06 Jun 2018 16:49

An interesting text (in French) about forbidden songs in the French army : https://www.demusicaemilitari.fr/chants ... erdits.php

In short, "Les lansquenets" and "Les oies sauvages" were first recorded in 1964 and 1965 respectively, in officer schools. But when "Les lansquenets" was sung by a platoon before a newly designated left wing minister (in 1981), it was regarded as an offence (because the French text reads "The day shall come when traitors pay"), and a list of allowed songs was published, first in 1982; in 1987 after another scandal, it was replaced by a list of forbidden songs (the one Knouterer quotes) instead : along with songs related to the French civil war, "Les lansquenets" and "Les oies sauvages" were namely designated amongst those which can't be sung.
"Les lansquenets" probably came to the French répertoire through the Belgian Division Wallonie, which had a tune "Tambour des lansquenets" on the air of "Im Frühtau zu Berge".

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Wim » 27 Jul 2018 19:24

Ivan Ž. wrote:
02 Jun 2018 01:48
Sauerkraut wrote:Could you confirm or infirm that there really was a "SS-Treuelied" written on the same air? Or was it the same words?
The SS simply used the old song "Wenn alle untreu werden" as their anthem (Treuelied). The song was sung to the melody of "Pour aller à la chasse faut être matineux" or to the melody of "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe" (today best known as the Belgian anthem). The SS used both melodies and the original lyrics, written by Max von Schenkendorf in 1814.

Cheers,
Ivan
Sorry to say that 'Wilhelmus van Nassouwe' is the Dutch Anthem. Altough flemisch nationalist who wants that Flanders be a part of the Netherlands also sing this song as their anthem (different verse (20 verses) The dutch sing the 1e verst the flemisch nationalist the 6e verse)

The belgian anthem is 'La brabançonne'.

Wim
Any information about Flemisch in German service (Waffen SS, OT, NSKK, Kriegsmarine, DRK, ...) during WWII is welcome.

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Ivan Ž. » 27 Jul 2018 21:04

Ahah, dear Wim, it was a typo :D I was writing at 2:48 AM and had Belgians on my mind (because of a John Cleese commercial I watched and the famous Python sketch. Not to mention that I also watched an episode of Poirot.) Of course, I meant the Dutch anthem. Nevertheless, thanks for the correction (mistake corrected) ;)

Cheers,
Ivan

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Teppeny
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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Teppeny » 28 Aug 2018 13:49

Hello, there is a version of "Lisa" named "Pemier chant du 1er REC"

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Teppeny » 28 Aug 2018 18:02

Sauerkraut wrote:
01 Jun 2018 22:16
- Die blauen Dragoner / Weit ist der Weg zurück ins Heimatland: "Souvenir qui passe" (I think the second German song was actually adopted from a British song, so the French version might be adopted from one or from the other...) * the melody of "Weit ist der Weg zurück ins Heimatland" is indeed British: "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag"
There is a 3 song in "Souvenir qui passe" and the last one is called "Steig' ich den Berg hinauf". I hope that I helped !

Best regard,
Teppeny

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Ivan Ž. » 04 Sep 2018 12:15

Teppeny wrote:
28 Aug 2018 18:02
There is a 3 song in "Souvenir qui passe" and the last one is called "Steig' ich den Berg hinauf". I hope that I helped !
Indeed there is, thanks very much! (I've just realised that I didn't play the song complete, thinking that the 2nd half is the same as the 1st.)

I've added it to the list. Thanks also for the "Lisa" addition.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: German songs and the French Foreign Legion

Post by Teppeny » 03 Nov 2018 16:01

Hello, I have some songs that I can add. Theses songs are sang by the "Choeur Montjoie Saint-Denis" a choir of french royalists. They sang some songs of the Légion Étrangère and other political songs.
Fun fact: Their first "album" were made by the SERP.

So here are the songs that I recognize (Some of them were already mentionned, I will not talk about it)
"Unser liebe Fraue": "Europe libère toi"
??? "En avant parcourant le monde" I don't recognize the exact the name of the song

I think that there must be other songs, but I didn't manage to find it.

Best regards,
Teppeny

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