Ich bin Soldat

This song was composed by an anonymous German writer in the 1870s, in response to the wars of German unification. Here are the lyrics in English:

I am a soldier,

But I don't like being one.

They didn't ask me;

They dragged me away into a barracks

Where I was held captive and hunted like an animal.

I had to leave my home, my friends and my sweetheart.

Thinking about it makes me furious.

 

I am a soldier, but only against my will.

I don't love the blue uniform.

I don't love this bloody warfare.

A stick would suffice to defend myself.

Oh tell me, what do you need soldiers for?

All peoples only love ease and peace.

You destroy that just out of imperiousness and to harm your people.

 

I'm a soldier, I have to march day and night.

Instead of holding down my work I have to be on sentry duty.

Instead of being free I have to salute

And see the arrogance of snotty youngsters.

And when we go to war, I have to murder brothers

Who never harmed me in any way.

 

But at least as a cripple I can wear decorations and medals,

And starving I will exclaim: “I was a soldier!”

All you brothers, whether Germans or French,

Hungarians or Danes or from the Netherlands,

Whether your pants are green or red, blue or white,

Instead of lead shot let's give each other a brother’s hand!

 

Let's march back to our home countries

And free our nations from the tryants!

Because only tyrants have to wage wars.

A soldier of freedom, now that I want to be.

A soldier of freedom, now that I want to be.