My feel-good summer hit is shaping up to be Hanns Eisler's 1930 anti-fascist anthem Der heimliche Aufmarsch, or The Secret Deployment. For some reason, I can't get the following out of my head:
Listen, workers, they're on the march
Screaming for nation and race
This is the war of the lords of the world
Into the workingman's face
The attack on the Soviet Union
Stabs at revolution's heart
This war that goes through all the lands
Is a war upon you, Prolet’!
Today I had the song on permanent repeat while jogging from Chelsea to Battery Park, wearing the entire time a thin Brechtian sneer, which possibly disconcerted several mothers with baby carriages and muscleboys doing Tai Chi. The main charm of the recording resides less in Eisler’s music, bitterly brilliant as it is, than in the scalding delivery of Ernst Busch, star singer-shouter of the German Communist movement. (I’m working on the Berlin-in-the-twenties chapter of my book, which is why items from that time and place keep cropping up in the blog. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a German person.) The anger in Busch’s voice is immense: by the time he made the recording, he knew how much horror had ensued from Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. At the same time, the coldly hammering accompaniment gives off its own scary totalitarian vibe. It makes you think that if the Communists had come to power in place of the Nazis in 1933 (or in 1919) things might not have turned out much better, either for Germany or the world. On the way back, to regain some sanity, I listened to Sade.