Prison Songs of Hope, Longing

Charlotte Ambach (see interview on this website) compiled a list, “The Songs We Sang Before and After Prison Confinement.”  I believe it was intended for an exhibit at the 8th Air Force Museum in Peeler, GA and may have been on an embroidery.  The last prison where she and her mother, Elise Chabot, were held awaiting execution was in Waldheim, Germany.  They and the other women prisoners were liberated by Russian soldiers.  Charlotte immediately went to the prison offices to search for her and her mother’s file.  She found that the two of them were scheduled for execution the following week.  Charlotte’s list explains the significance of each song.  I have added links to examples of the songs being performed where I could find them.

A. Hoping for: “The Yanks are coming!

B. Longing for: “Home, sweet home again.

C. A Dutch Song: “De lucht is blauw, kom mee, kom gauw.” (The air is blue, come along, come quickly.)

D. Anticipating the future: “When the lights go on again all over the world.

E. Suppressing desperation: “But we don’t talk about that.”

F. A French song:Il est long le chemin qui conduit à ma Belle.”  (It is long the road that leads to my Beauty – or sweetheart.)

G. Thinking of the boys we helped: “Silver wings in the moonlight.”

H. Hearing the boom of a cannon at noon from the 13th of April and onwards: “Don’t give up, Tommy Atkins!

I. Wishing for a smoke: “While a cigaret is burning.”

J. A French student song: “Que l’on nous verse à boire.” (Let somebody pour us a drink.)

K. Hungry, hungry, ravenous: “Ma, I miss your apple pie.  Ma, I miss your stew!!)

L. Still hungry and wanting more food: “Hey, little hen . . . when, when, when will you lay me an egg for my tea?”

M. A Dutch song that expressed our feelings about the prison authorities: Laat de baas de p… maar krijgen!”  (Let the boss get the pox!)




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