The authors were prisoners in Börgermoor, one of fifteen Elmslanderlager, opened following the burning of the Reichstag in '33 to concentrate German 'subversive elements' (see footnote). Hans Eisler heard the song in London in 1935 and arranged the music for singer Ernst Busch (recorded in Moscow). Dutch translation ('35): Henk Wielek. Later versions as Wir sind die Moorsoldaten. There's also a French version as Le Chant des marais.
Paul Robeson [as Peat Bog Soldiers]
Theodore Bikel [idem]
Pete Seeger [idem]
Mouloudji [as Le Chant des marais]
Jaap van de Merwe [as De Moorbrigade; own lyrics]
Rum [as De Moorsoldaten]
Jan Van Calsteren [as De Veensoldaten]
Lankum [as Peat Bog Soldiers]
After thirteen months at the Börgermoor prison camp, Wolfgang Langhoff was released, escaped to Switzerland and turned his Moorsoldaten diary notes into a book. It was published before the war began. Langhoff tells about a circus session set up by the prisoners to cheer up each other. Showstopper was the song of the Veensoldaten (or Börgermoorlied), sung by all prisoners and SS-janitors alike. Two days later that song was banned for its hopeful last refrain. The song was smuggled outside and made it just in time on the repertoire of Spanish Civil War partizans. Melody also used for Lied Van De Vierde Wereld (Vlaams Vierde Wereld Syndicaat).