Summer has come. Some folks are still excited about the FIFA World Cup, others party at an open air festival. However, es geht ein dunkle wolk' herein (a dark cloud is approaching), says the German folk song which is considered a contemporary document of the Thirty Years' War from 1618 to 1648.
A hundred years ago, on 28 June 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated along with his wife in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. On 28 July, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia. Within days, the interests of the Great Powers Germany, Russia and France escalated the local conflict to a continental war. A total of 40 nations participated in the most extensive war so far, claiming some 17 million lives in four years.
Not only the so-called Great War began 100 years ago, the Deutsche Volksliedarchiv (German folk song archive) was founded in 1914 as well. Soldiers of all nations sang farewell and marching songs; songs such as "Lili Marleen" or "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" are known to everyone. Less well-known are the many verses of anonymous authors who dealt with the true face of war or grappled with the catastrophic situation on the home front.
When the beginning and the course of World War I is commemorated in the coming weeks and months, even FolkWorld will often look back and forward: Which songs do exist? How do songwriters deal with military conflicts?
Photo Credits: (1) Robb Johnson et al "Gentlemen" (unknown/website).