Tag Archives: music

Walter Flex and his Rushing Wild Geese

Walter Flex (wikipedia)
Walter Flex (wikipedia)

Poetry and music are very much part of the British story of the Great War. But what did the Germans sing?

I found Walter Flex in “The Lost Voices of Word War One, An International Anthology of Writers, Poets and Playwrights,” by Tim Cross. (Bloomsbury) ISBN 0-7475-0276-5 Flex said he wrote it whist on sentry duty in Lorraine, and it was first published in 1916  in his book “Between two Worlds“

1.Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht
Mit schrillem Schrei nach Norden –
Unstäte Fahrt! Habt acht, habt acht!
Die Welt ist voller Morden.

2.Fahrt durch die nachtdurchwogte Welt,
Graureisige Geschwader!
Fahlhelle zuckt, und Schlachtruf gellt,
Weit wallt und wogt der Hader.

3.Rausch’ zu, fahr’ zu, du graues Heer!
Rauscht zu, fahrt zu nach Norden!
Fahrt ihr nach Süden übers Meer –
Was ist aus uns geworden!

4.Wir sind wie ihr ein graues Heer
Und fahr’n in Kaisers Namen,
Und fahr’n wir ohne Wiederkehr,
Rauscht uns im Herbst ein Amen

This is translated as

1. Wild geese are rushing through the night,
With shrill cry, northbound rangers.
Hazard awaits, take care your flight
And world is full of dangers.

2. Fly through the night-filled air my friends,
You squadron grey and mighty.
Dawn breaks as battle cry extends
Far o’er the lands below ye.

3. Fly on, rush on, you grey-winged flight,
Rush on to Northlands safety.
When you fly south again some night,
What will my fate have made me?

4. We are, as you, a gray-clothed pack,
The Kaiser’s fighting yeomen.
Should our flight end with no way back,
Fly south and sound our Amen.
Tr. Frank 2002 http://ingeb.org/Lieder/wildgans.html

There are parallels with Flanders Fields in that it was written in the field and contrasts the war with nature. It touched a Germanic nerve for romanticism when coupled with the tune by Gotz and is claims to be the most popular soldiers song of the German army of the Great War.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO6fSDZbXUQ

After the Great war the song was adopted by the Wandervogel movement of ramblers and hikers and other youth organisations – and the the Hitler Youth. It was a standard of the German soldier-songbooks of the Wehrmacht – with the references to the Kaiser changed..

The same song passed across frontiers. and has been adopted by French youth movements and the French Army’s airborne forces

and the school of quartermasters!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQSX5NRZ7d4

French Lyrics here:-  http://musique-militaire.fr/parachutistes/les-oies-sauvages

Of course the song fits the ethios of the Franco-German Corps

Is there any other song of the Great War which is still sung?