The lyrics of this poignant song on the tragedy of war were written by Ludwig Uhland, a romantic poet, during the Napoleonic saga, in 1809, the year of the Austrian campaign that witnessed the battle of Essling in the month of May, and that of Wagram latter on in July.
The melody was composed in 1825 by Friedrich Silcher, who also transformed “la Lorelei” into music.
The words of the song "Ich hatt' einen Kameraden" have been translated into several languages. It has become one of the traditional songs of the Foreign Legion.
After the Second World War, in the east of France, the song was taught in public schools, alongside the German language.
Beyond territorial frontiers, hegemonic ambitions and cultural or ideological differences, this soul-searching work of art rouses desire for respect and meditation in men of all nationalities.
In memory of Sergeant Jean Pierre Sigrist, of Héricourt, my best friend, who died for France at the age of 21, on August 17, 1960. PC
The most despairing songs are the most beautiful,
and I know some immortal ones, which are utter sobs.
Alfred de Musset - La Nuit de Mai – (The Night of May)