Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kaiser Wilhelms mapole (The Downfall of Kaiser Wilhelm) - a victory celebration by Max Zavodnik

I found (by reading the comic strip Gimpel Beynish in Di Warheit) that when World War I broke out the Jews of New York were by and large on the German/Austrian team, because their hatred for Nicholas II outweighed all other considerations. But obviously by the time the war was over they had switched sides and were pleased to see Wilhelm defeated.

Max Zavodnik wrote these lyrics, setting them to the tune of Ven di boyes veln kumen tsurik, which pianist Aviva Enoch and I recorded a while back for this same project. I just used her piano track again for this song. Here's my recording from this morning:

Here's the cover of the songsheet, click for a larger view. The original singers were Yetta Zwerling and Sam Klinetsky. Yetta was born near Lvov; her father was a klezmer musician. She followed her older sisters into the Yiddish theater world. The family came to New York when Yetta was in high school and not long after she was appearing in Yiddish vaudeville with Sam Klinetsky at the Grand Theater.

I couldn't find out anything about Sam and there's no picture to be found on the internets! Sorry, Sam.

Here's a transcription and translation:

Mit glik un freyd hobn mir empfangen
Reb Sholem, undzer libn groysn gast
Tantsendik iz yeder umgegangen
Arop fun hertsn iz a shvere last
Geendikt iz di groyse velt-milkhome,
Der kamf far frayhayt un gerekhtikayt
Geleygt di Daytshn tif in der adome
Hot President Wilson in a kurtse tsayt

Vilson iz der eyntsiker man
Heldish hot er durkhgefit zayn plan
Mit zayn seykhl un farshtand
Hot er bagrobn daytshland
Arunter mitn Kayzer, dem tiran
Amerike, muz yeder gebn tsu
Az nokh a land iz nishto vi zi
Dos veysn kristn, yidn,
Az der malekh fun der fridn
Iz nor Vilson, der eyntsiker man

A feder ken di simkhe nit bashraybn
Di ziskayt fun dem liblikhn moment,
Az der fridn zol an eybikeyt farblibn
Iz tsu danken Vilson, unzer president.
Mir danken oykh di heldishe soldatn
Vos hobn zikh bateylikt in der shlakht
Un di fleg fun di fareynikte shtatn
Vos hot undz dem fridn gebrakht

Vilhelm volt es ober frier visn
Az Onkl Sem vet im derlangen klep
Volt er shoyn lang tsurik dem fridn shlisn
Abi aroysgeyn khotsh mit gantse kep
Es iz im ober gor nit ayngefaln
Amerike zol zayn azoy geshikt
Az Hindenburg mit ale generaln
Zoln vern fun di "yenkees" bazigt

With happiness we received Reb Peace, our great, beloved guest
Everybody is dancing, a heavy burden falls from our hearts
The great World War has ended, the struggle for freedom and justice.
In a short time President Wilson buried the Germans deep in the ground.

Wilson is the exceptional man.
Like a hero he carried out his plan.
With his wisdom and understanding he buried Germany
Down with the Kaiser, the tyrant!
America, everybody must admit,
Is a land unequalled.
Christians and Jews know that the angel of peace
is Wilson, the exceptional man.

A pen can't describe the joy
The sweetness of the dear moment
If freedom endures forever
It's thanks to Wilson, our president
We also thank the heroic soldiers
Who took part in the battle
And the United States flag which brought us freedom

Wilhelm, however, would have known this sooner
If Uncle Sam dealt him blows.
Long ago he would have established peace
Just so as to get out of it with unbroken heads.
It didn't occur to him America would join the fray
That Hindenburg and all the generals would be beaten by the Yankees.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me:

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