Kristallnaach* (English translation)

English translation


Versions: #1#2
I have a feeling, a sense malign,
something seems to slip my mind,
a sound barely heard,
at times familiar, absurd,
Seldom seen, even then it disturbs
You would wake, rub your eyes and behold,
on a canvas between Brueghel and Bosch
Who’s going to pay for an alarm,
when a threat is only half of the cost?
It smells like Kristallnacht
In the calm before the storm, what’s goes down?
Stealthily leaving the town,
incognito, the big shots hurrying on,
can’t be seen to be a part of that throng
When the soul of the tribe, on the rise,
boils with anger, flares up and cries:
"Heil - Halali" with unbounded rage,
calling for vengeance on those they despise
In the Kristallnacht
But for those upset by anything new,
they go with the flow, as they always do
for the gays are dissidents,
and immigrants a pestilence,
need someone to sweep them away
And the cavalry is not going to show,
no Zorro to give a hot damn
at most, he’d piss a ‘Z’ in the snow,
staggering, indifferent, his legend a sham:
“So what? Kristallnacht!”
In the church with the Kafkaesque clock,
missing hands just marks on the dial,
a blind man reads kids tales to a deaf man,
there, behind a triple-locked door
And the guard holding the key-chain,
he styles himself some kind of a djinn,
he makes a powder from the gateway,
hawking as a cure for the locked-in
In the Kristallnacht
Meanwhile, in the marketplace, perhaps,
unmasked, showing their true colors today,
collects stones, sharpening blades,
against those now betrayed,
the lynch-mob rehearses for Judgement Day
Moored briefly, preparing to load,
galleys stand ready to sail,
in the harbour waiting on slaves,
on the trash from the one-sided fray
From the Kristallnacht
There, quoting Darwin, excuses they invent,
whenever people they expel or torment,
there, where money pulls strings,
where the strong are the world’s kings
Bowed under, standing meekly nearby,
left singing hymns to themselves, while
with a barbaric craving for profit,
“Hosanna” and "Crucify him!" cry,
anywhere there’s gain in it
Every day, Kristallnacht.
Only Kristallnacht
Submitted by Roy Phillips on Sun, 03/09/2017 - 09:20
Last edited by Roy Phillips on Thu, 05/07/2018 - 10:47
Author's comments:

Although I've tried to keep this translation faithful to the original text, it is not a literal rendering, as I also wanted it to scan, to be singable with the music.
In places, Niedecken's lyrics cannot be easily translated, so I have tried to express in English what I have understood, how I've been translating this song to myself in my head, these last thirty-five years.... For example, "where they are even playing hymns on a comb" - what is that? That they (the dispossessed) are reduced to any simple instruments they have at hand, to play music to keep their spirits up?

Niedecken: "This next song one that is less about an evaluation of Germany's past, as many people incorrectly assume. The piece has more to do with the fear we have for those who have learned nothing from that past. Absolutely nothing." (into on Bess demnähx ~ BAP live album)

German (Kölsch)


More translations of "Kristallnaach*"
Idioms from "Kristallnaach*"
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