November 17, 2013

repost: "O Deutschland, bleiche Mutter" /"O Germany, Pale Mother !" by Bertolt Brecht, Nov. 17, 2013


The bronze sculpture "O Deutschland, bleiche Mutter" ("O Germany, pale mother") by Fritz Cremer, standing on the green space north of the Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island in Berlin-Mitte. The title is borrowed from the poem "Germany" (1933) by Bertolt Brecht. This is a copy of the memorial Cremer created in 1965/1966 for the former concentration camp Mauthausen. Another copy is located at the Forest Cemetery in Magdeburg at the grave site of victims of national socialism. The Berlin copy has been standing at its current site since 2004. From 1987 to 1991, it stood in the nearby Lustgarten, in front of the Old Museum.

The poem below was written by the great Bertolt Brecht in 1933; Communist, German dramatist, stage director, and poet of the 20th century. An English translation follows the German language original below.




Bertolt Brecht,
Deutschland(1933)

Mögen andere von ihrer Schande sprechen,
ich spreche von der meinen.

O Deutschland, bleiche Mutter!
Wie sitzest du besudelt
Unter den Völkertn.
Unter den Befleckten
Fällst du auf.

Von deinen Söhnen der ärmste
Liegt erschlagen.
Als sein Hunger groß war
Haben deine anderen Söhne
Die Hand gegen ihn erhoben.
Das ist ruchbar geworden.

mit ihren so erhobenen Händen
Erhoben gegn ihren Bruder
Gehen sie jetzt frech vor dir herum
Und lachen in dein Gesicht.
Das weiß man.

In deinem Hause
Wird laut gebrüllt, was Lüge ist.
Aber die Wahrheit
Muß schweigen.
Ist es so?

Warum preisen dich ringsum die Unterdrücker, aber
Die Unterdrückten beschuldigen dich?
Die Ausgebeuteten
Zeigen mit Fingern auf dich, aber
Die Ausbeuter loben das System
Das in deinem Hause ersonnen wurde!

Und dabei sehen dich alle
Den Zipfe deines Rockes verbergen, der blutig ist
Vom Blut deines
Besten Sohnes.

Hörend die Reden, die aus deinem Hause dringen, lacht man.
Aber wer dich sieht, der greift nach dem Messer
Wie beim Anblick einer Räuberin.

O Deutschland, bleiche Mutter!
Wie haben deine Söhne dich zugerichtet
Daß du unter den Völkern sitzest
Ein Gespött oder eine Furcht!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
'Let others speak of her shame,
I speak of my own.'


O Germany, pale mother!
How soiled you are
As you sit among the peoples.
You flaunt yourself
Among the besmirched.

The poorest of your sons
Lies struck down.
When his hunger was great.
Your other sons
Raised their hands against him.
This is notorious.

With their hands thus raised,
Raised against their brother,
They march insolently around you
And laugh in your face.
This is well known.

In your house
Lies are roared aloud.
But the truth
Must be silent.
Is it so?

Why do the oppressors praise you everywhere,
The oppressed accuse you?
The plundered
Point to you with their fingers, but
The plunderer praises the system
That was invented in your house!

Whereupon everyone sees you
Hiding the hem of your mantle which is bloody
With the blood
Of your best sons.

Hearing the harangues which echo from your house,
men laugh.
But whoever sees you reaches for a knife
As at the approach of a robber.

O Germany, pale mother!
How have your sons arrayed you
That you sit among the peoples
A thing of scorn and fear!

Bertolt Brecht

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