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German War Poem: Translated by: Alexa Fleckenstein

German war poemA few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with author Alexa Fleckenstein.  And somewhere, amongst our many topics of discussion, she began talking about an old German war poem, and given my background, she insisted on sharing the poem with me; and since she could not find an English translation, she translated it herself.  I figured that now, as we enter year twelve of the war in Afghanistan, was an appropriate time to share.  It is a beautiful poem and translation.  Read it below.


Erich Kästner: But when the next War seemed a certain fact

But when the next War seemed a certain fact,

The women said: No way!

And locked in brother, husband, son

And took the keys away.

In every country, every town, they stormed

Each sergeant’s, major’s, off’cer’s home,

And chased the guys, and got them tight,

And beat them with a broom.

They gave a beating to everyone who

had ordered to break the peace:

The bankers, brokers, ministers,

Generals and military police.

A lot of brooms were shattered then

And many a blowhard finished and done.

So many men cried, so many men whined.

The War was over before begun.

All that accomplished, the women went home

To brother, husband, son,

And said there was no War.

The men looked hard not in their eyes

But rather to the floor.

[translated by Alexa Fleckenstein 2012]

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