Kalman Kalocsay: "To A Friend in a POW Camp" (From Esperanto)

During WWII, Kalocsay recorded his experiences and feelings in a collection of sonnets titled Tra La Ŝtormo "Through the storm", from which this poem is taken. It's anti-Nazi sentiment is a useful reminder that, while Hungary was officially allied with the Axis powers, sympathy for Nazism as such was not particularly high and Hungary tried for quite some time to stay out of direct participation in the war (albeit while inflicting much unpleasantness on Jews.) Indeed, the Hungarian prime Minister Pál Teleki, who was pressured into signing the Tripartite Pact which brought Hungary into that alliance, actually committed suicide when he failed to prevent Hungary from actively participating in the war alongside the Germans, leaving a suicide note that contained phrases such as "out of cowardice, we have allied ourselves with scoundrels." Unfortunately, he was then replaced by László Bárdossy, a man who probably couldn't go to the bathroom without shitting Fascism.

To A Friend in a POW Camp
By Kálmán Kalocsay
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the Esperanto

Dear friend amid the barbed wire and the fear
Of an OFLAG1, I seek your thoughts with mine:
What are you doing now? How you must pine
For your sweet land of France out in the drear
Prison-shack guarded by the uniforms
In human form, who breathe race-pride like fire   

And whose Romanticism of blood aspires
To glories of the age of helmet horns.

It is so foreign to the other German
Romantics that you loved and understand....
Friend, be sustained in hope for a determined
Escape one spell-cast day across the Rhine,
Returning home from the Romantic Land
That earned the loving hatred of your Heine2.


Notes:
1- OFLAG- short for Offizierslager "officer-camp", a German POW camp for captured officers.
2- Heinrich Heine, a German poet of the early 19th century, famed for his romantic (if somewhat repetitive) lyrics. A Jew by birth, Heine grudgingly converted to Protestantism in order to, as he put it, "get an admission ticket into European culture" and avoid being banned from certain professions. Heine's Jewish heritage also lead to his books being banned, and even burned, by the Nazis.

The Original:

Al Kaptita Amiko

Amiko mia inter dratoj dornaj
de OFLAG, miaj pensoj al vi iras:
kion vi faras, kiel vi sopiras
je via dolĉa franca ter' el mornaj
barakoj, kaj el inter la homformaj
gardistoj, kiuj rasorgojlon spiras,
kaj kies sanga romantik' aspiras
je l' glor' de l' tempoj de la kaskoj kornaj.

Alia estis tiu romantiko
germana, kiun amis vi, amiko...
Ho, vin konservu firma la espero
je l' fea tago, kiam vi alhejme
eskapos el la romantika tero,
kiun malamis-amis via Heine.

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