WWII Prison Folk Song Behind the Barbed Wire
League of American Writers
Exiled Writer's Committee QB 1750
(3 Discs 78rpm, New York)
Translations are provided in back cover of album
Bartholomeus van der Schelling
The Exiles Chorus directed by Earl Robinson




  1. Wie Hinterm Draht (Behind the Barbed Wire) (Composed in French internment Camp of Gurs by Eberhard Schmitt) 2:49
  2. Au Vante la Vi (Toward the new Life - Au Devant de la Vie (French) - Music by Dmitri Shostakovich) 2:48
  3. La Joven Guardia (Spanish) - The Young Guard - Text by Montheus ans Aragon - Music by Saint-Gilles 2:20
  4. The Thälmann-Bataillon (German) - Text by Karl Ernst - Music by Peter Daniel 2:45
  5. Els Segagors (Catalan) - The Reapers (Les Moissonneurs est l'hymne officiel de la Catalogne)
  6. La Guardia Rossa (Italian) 2:24
"We Behind the Barbed Wire"
Time Magazinze, Monday, Aug. 04, 1941

World War II has yet to produce a great song, but last week some of its saddest were heard in the U.S. The League of American Writers produced an album of records ($2.75) called Behind the Barbed Wire—six songs of the French, Spanish, Italian and German antiFascists who now rot in the French concentration camps of Gurs, Vernet d'Ariège, Argelès-sur-Mer.
The six songs were recorded in Manhattan by a Netherlands-born fighter in the Spanish Civil War, Bart van der Schelling. He wears his chin in a brace, is called "official singer" for the U.S. survivors of the International Brigades of the Loyalists. Singer van der Schelling is backed by an "Exiles Chorus" directed by Earl Robinson (Ballad for Americans). Some of the songs—the Spanish Joven Guardia, the Italian Guardia Rossa, the German Thaelmann-Bataillon, the French Au Devant de la Vie (music by Soviet Composer Dmitri Shostakovich)—were composed during the Spanish War. Most of them are in rough, plodding march time. The one which gives the album its name was composed by a German, Eberhard Schmitt, in the camp at Gurs. Its chorus, translated (not quite so lame in the original):

Behind the wire, our courage is unbroken
We yield to no one! We're not broken reeds!
Jail or internment, we're masters of our lives,
Nothing counts with us but deeds!
For where Germany's and Austria's sons may be,
One goal they cling to: Liberty! . . .