Montag, 11. Oktober 2021

Ernst Busch - Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühen (Erich Kästner)

Erich Kästner (1899-1974) is still one of the best known and most popular authors in the German-speaking world, but he is not very well known elsewhere. Even in German Europe, Kästner is primarily known as the author of highly amusing works for children, although his body of work includes a great variety of more serious material, including dramas, essays, screenplays, novels, and poetry.

Born in Dresden in 1899, Erich Kästner attended school there from 1906 until 1917. That year he began military service and after 1918 completed secondary school at Dresden's König Georg-Gymnasium. He began his university studies in Leipzig (German, history, philosophy, history of the theater) and had already begun publishing some newspaper pieces by 1920. In 1922 he began working at the Neue Leipziger Zeitung (newspaper). By 1927 Kästner was a theater critic in Berlin, where he lived and worked until after World War II.

Kästner's first big writing breakthrough came with the publication of Emil und die Detektive in 1928. This children's adventure tale, set in Berlin, has been a timeless, perennial favorite - filmed over the years no less than five times in various productions in English and German. Part of its appeal comes from Kästner's tendency to give the children in his stories strong character and virtues. Although this may at times create a certain lack of realism, Kästner always treats his child characters like adults, even as they remain childlike.

Although Kästner gave several reasons and even wrote an essay on the subject, no one is really sure why he remained in Germany following the Nazi rise to power. Naturally, he was criticized for this, in particular for his work at UFA on the Nazi-sponsored "Münchhausen" film. (He probably accepted that job because his income was severely limited by Nazi restrictions, but the circumstances have never been entirely clear.) Nevertheless, no one would claim that Kästner had any Nazi sympathies. On May 10, 1933 the author had the unique experience of watching his own books burned by the Nazis in Berlin. All of the other authors whose books went up in flames that night had already left Germany far behind. Later Kästner would be twice arrested and held by the Gestapo (in 1934 and 1937). It is uncertain whether he had any Jewish background or not.

In any event, under the Third Reich Kästner was forced to publish outside of Germany - until he was later restricted from publishing anywhere at all. During this period several of his works appeared under Switzerland's Atrium-Verlag imprint. These included his poems in "Doktor Erich Kästners lyrische Hausapotheke" (1936), several children's books and three novels: Drei Männer im Schnee (1934), Die verschwundene Miniatur (1935), and Georg und die Zwischenfälle (1938), later entitled Der kleine Grenzverkehr.

His output after the war rarely matched the force of his earlier work, and although he did publish some works that reflected his wartime experiences - "Die Schule der Diktatoren" (1956) and the journal "Notabene 45" (1961) among them, he never did publish the "big novel" that he had promised as part of his justification for remaining in Nazi Germany. But all was not well with the author. In the early 1960s he spent time in a Swiss sanatorium, although he continued to write and serve as the honorary president of the German authors group known as PEN.

The EP "Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühen" was released in 1968 together with a book in the Eulenspiegel Verlag, featuring interpretations by the wonderful Ernst Busch.


A1: Kennst du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühen? (Adolf Fritz Guhl, Klavier)
A2: Die Tretmühle (Instrumentalgruppe, Leitung: Adolf Fritz Guhl)
A3: Fantasie von übermorgen (Instrumentalgruppe, Leitung: Adolf Fritz Guhl)
B1: Dem Revolutionär Jesus zum Geburtstag (Adolf Fritz Guhl, Orgel)
B2: Stimmen aus dem Massengrab (Instrumentalgruppe, Leitung: Adolf Fritz Guhl)
B3: Die andere Möglichkeit (Peter Gotthardt, Klavier)

"Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühn
Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühn?
Du kennst es nicht? Du wirst es kennenlernen!
Dort stehn die Prokuristen stolz und kühn
in den Büros, als wären es Kasernen.
Dort wachsen unterm Schlips Gefreitenknöpfe.
Und unsichtbare Helme trägt man dort.
Gesichter hat man dort, doch keine Köpfe.
Und wer zu Bett geht, pflanzt sich auch schon fort!
Wenn dort ein Vorgesetzter etwas will
- und es ist sein Beruf etwas zu wollen -
steht der Verstand erst stramm und zweitens still.
Die Augen rechts! Und mit dem Rückgrat rollen!
Die Kinder kommen dort mit kleinen Sporen
und mit gezognem Scheitel auf die Welt.
Dort wird man nicht als Zivilist geboren.
Dort wird befördert, wer die Schnauze hält.
Kennst Du das Land? Es könnte glücklich sein.
Es könnte glücklich sein und glücklich machen?
Dort gibt es Äcker, Kohle, Stahl und Stein
und Fleiß und Kraft und andre schöne Sachen.
Selbst Geist und Güte gibt´s dort dann und wann!
Und wahres Heldentum. Doch nicht bei vielen.
Dort steckt ein Kind in jedem zweiten Mann.
Das will mit Bleisoldaten spielen.
Dort reift die Freiheit nicht. Dort bleibt sie grün.
Was man auch baut - es werden stets Kasernen.
Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühn?
Du kennst es nicht? Du wirst es kennenlernen!"
Erich Kaestner (1899-1974)

Ernst Busch - Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühen (Erich Kästner)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

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