"The Internationale"
"L'Internationale", original French version

International anthem of anarchists, communists, socialists, social democrats, and democratic socialists
Also known asL'Internationale (French)
LyricsEugène Pottier, 1871
MusicPierre De Geyter, 1888
Audio sample
"The Internationale" (instrumental)

"The Internationale" (/ˌɪntərnæʃəˈnɑːl, -ˈnæl/ IN-tər-nash-ə-NA(H)L; French: "L'Internationale" [lɛ̃tɛʁnɑsjɔnal]) is an international anthem that has been adopted as the anthem of various anarchist, communist, socialist, democratic socialist, and social democratic movements.[1][2] It has been a standard of the socialist movement since the late nineteenth century, when the Second International adopted it as its official anthem. The title arises from the "First International", an alliance of workers which held a congress in 1864. The author of the anthem's lyrics, Eugène Pottier, an anarchist, attended this congress.[3][4] Pottier's text was later set to an original melody composed by Pierre De Geyter, a Marxist.[5]

It is one of the most widely translated anthems in history.[6]

French version

The original French lyrics were written in June 1871 by Eugène Pottier (previously a member of the Paris Commune) and were originally intended to be sung to the tune of "La Marseillaise".[7][8] However, the melody to which it is usually sung was composed in 1888 by Pierre De Geyter for the choir "La Lyre des Travailleurs" of the French Worker's Party in his hometown of Lille, and the first performed there in July of that year.[7][9][10] DeGeyter had been commissioned to do this for the choir by Gustave Delory [fr], the mayor of Lille.[11][10][10]

There is an early edition of the song, predating the final 1887 version; it was published in 1990 by Robert Brécy.[12] Contemporary editions published by Boldoduc (Lille) in 1888, by Delory in 1894, and by Lagrange in 1898 are no longer locatable.[9]

Pottiers's lyrics contain one-liners that became very popular and found widespread use as slogans; other lines ("Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun") were already well-known in the workers' movement. The success of the song is connected to the stability and widespread popularity of the Second International. Like the lyrics, the music by Degeyter was relatively simple and down to earth, suitable for a workers' audience.[13]

French lyrics, 1887 version

French Literal English translation

Debout, les damnés de la terre
Debout, les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère
C'est l'éruption de la fin
Du passé faisons table rase
Foule esclave, debout, debout
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout

Chorus x2
C'est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous, et demain
Sera le genre humain.

Il n'est pas de sauveurs suprêmes
Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun
Producteurs, sauvons-nous nous-mêmes
Décrétons le salut commun
Pour que le voleur rende gorge
Pour tirer l'esprit du cachot
Soufflons nous-mêmes notre forge
Battons le fer quand il est chaud.

Chorus x2

L'État opprime et la loi triche
L'impôt saigne le malheureux
Nul devoir ne s'impose au riche
Le droit du pauvre est un mot creux
C'est assez, languir en tutelle
L'égalité veut d'autres lois
Pas de droits sans devoirs dit-elle
Égaux, pas de devoirs sans droits.

Chorus x2

Hideux dans leur apothéose
Les rois de la mine et du rail
Ont-ils jamais fait autre chose
Que dévaliser le travail ?
Dans les coffres-forts de la bande
Ce qu'il a créé s'est fondu
En décrétant qu'on le lui rende
Le peuple ne veut que son dû.

Chorus x2

Les rois nous saoulaient de fumées
Paix entre nous, guerre aux tyrans
Appliquons la grève aux armées
Crosse en l'air, et rompons les rangs
S'ils s'obstinent, ces cannibales
À faire de nous des héros
Ils sauront bientôt que nos balles
Sont pour nos propres généraux.

Chorus x2

Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes
Le grand parti des travailleurs
La terre n'appartient qu'aux hommes
L'oisif ira loger ailleurs
Combien de nos chairs se repaissent
Mais si les corbeaux, les vautours
Un de ces matins disparaissent
Le soleil brillera toujours.

Chorus x2

Arise, wretched of the earth
Arise, convicts of hunger
Reason thunders in its volcano
This is the eruption of the end
Of the past let us wipe the slate clean
Slave masses, arise, arise
The world is about to change its foundation
We are nothing, let us be everything

Chorus x2
This is the final struggle
Let us gather together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

There are no supreme saviors
Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune.
Producers, let us save ourselves
Decree on the common welfare
That the thief return his plunder,
That the spirit be pulled from its prison
Let us fan the forge ourselves
Strike the iron while it is hot

Chorus x2

The state represses and the law cheats
The tax bleeds the unfortunate
No duty is imposed on the rich
"Rights of the poor" is a hollow phrase
Enough languishing in custody
Equality wants other laws:
No rights without obligations, it says,
And as well, no obligations without rights

Chorus x2

Hideous in their self-deification
Kings of the mine and rail
Have they ever done anything other
Than steal work?
Into the coffers of that lot,
What work creates has melted
In demanding that they give it back
The people wants only its due.

Chorus x2

The kings make us drunk with their fumes,
Peace among ourselves, war to the tyrants!
Let the armies go on strike,
Guns in the air, and break ranks
If these cannibals insist
In making heroes of us,
Soon they will know our bullets
Are for our own generals

Chorus x2

Laborers, peasants, we are
The great party of workers
The earth belongs only to men
The idle will go reside elsewhere
How much of our flesh they feed on,
But if the ravens and vultures
Disappear one of these days
The sun will shine always

Chorus x2

Authorship and copyright

In a successful attempt to save Pierre De Geyter's job as a woodcarver, the 6,000 leaflets printed by Lille printer Boldoduc only mentioned the French version of his family name (Degeyter).[14][10] The second edition published by Delory named Pierre's brother Adolphe as the composer.[15] With neither money nor representation, Pierre De Geyter lost his first lawsuit over this in 1914 and did not gain legal recognition of authorship until 1922 when he was 74.[15][8][9] His brother had in the meantime died by suicide in 1916, leaving a note to Pierre explaining the fraud and stating that Delory had manipulated him into claiming authorship; and Delory had inscribed on Adolphe's tombstone "Ici repose Adolphe Degeyter, l'auteur de L'Internationale".[15] Despite this dying declaration, historians in the 1960s such as Daniel Ligou were still contending that Adolphe was the author.[15]

In 1972 "Montana Edition", owned by Hans R. Beierlein [de], bought the rights to the song for 5,000 Deutschmark, first for the territory of West Germany, then in East Germany, then worldwide. East Germany paid Montana Edition 20,000 DM every year for its rights to play the music. Pierre De Geyter died in 1932, causing the copyrights to expire in 2002.[16] Luckhardt's German text is the public domain since 1984.

As the "Internationale" music was published before 1 July 1909 outside the United States, it is in the public domain in the United States.[17] As of 2013, Pierre De Geyter's music is also in the public domain in countries and areas whose copyright durations are authors' lifetime plus 80 years or less.[18] Due to France's wartime copyright extensions (prorogations de Guerre), SACEM claimed that the music was still copyrighted in France until October 2014.[19] The "Internationale" is now also in the public domain within France.

As Eugène Pottier died in 1887, his original French lyrics are in the public domain. Gustave Delory once acquired the copyright of his lyrics through the songwriter G. B. Clement having bought it from Pottier's widow.[20][incomplete short citation]


There have been a very wide variety of translations of the anthem from the original French. Kuznar (2002) notes that the nature of these translations has varied widely. Many have been closely literal translations with variations soley to account for rhyme and meter but others have been done to encode different ideology perspectives and or to update contents to adapt the lyrics to relevant more contemporary issues. [21]

Anthem of the Soviet Union

The Russian version was initially translated by Arkady Kots in 1902 and printed in London in Zhizn, a Russian émigré magazine. The first Russian version had only three stanzas, based on stanzas 1, 2, and 6 of the original, and the refrain. After the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the text was slightly re-worded to get rid of "now useless" future tenses – particularly the refrain was reworded (the future tense was replaced by the present, and the first person plural possessive pronoun was introduced). In 1918, the chief editor of Izvestia, Yuri Steklov, appealed to Russian writers to translate the other three stanzas, which did eventually happen.[22]

The full Russian version is as follows:

English: The Internationale

Former national anthem of the Russian SFSR
Former national anthem of the Soviet Union
LyricsАркадий Коц (Arkady Kots), 1902
MusicPierre De Geyter, 1888
Adopted1918 (Russian SFSR)
1922 (Soviet Union)
Relinquished1922 (Russian SFSR)
1944 (Soviet Union)
Preceded byWorker's Marseillaise
Succeeded byState Anthem of the Soviet Union
Audio sample
The Internationale, Russian
Russian translation Transliteration English translation

Вставай, проклятьем заклеймённый,
Весь мир голодных и рабов!
Кипит наш разум возмущённый
И в смертный бой вести готов.
Весь мир насилья мы разрушим
До основанья, а затем
Мы наш, мы новый мир построим, –
Кто был ничем, тот станет всем.

(×2) Это есть наш последний
И решительный бой;
С Интернационалом
Воспрянет род людской!

Никто не даст нам избавленья:
Ни бог, ни царь и не герой!
Добьёмся мы освобожденья
Своею собственной рукой.
Чтоб свергнуть гнёт рукой умелой,
Отвоевать своё добро, –
Вздувайте горн и куйте смело,
Пока железо горячо!


Довольно кровь сосать, вампиры,
Тюрьмой, налогом, нищетой!
У вас  – вся власть, все блага мира,
А наше право  – звук пустой !
Мы жизнь построим по-иному –
И вот наш лозунг боевой:
Вся власть народу трудовому!
А дармоедов всех долой!


Презренны вы в своём богатстве,
Угля и стали короли!
Вы ваши троны, тунеядцы,
На наших спинах возвели.
Заводы, фабрики, палаты –
Всё нашим создано трудом.
Пора! Мы требуем возврата
Того, что взято грабежом.


Довольно королям в угоду
Дурманить нас в чаду войны!
Война тиранам! Мир Народу!
Бастуйте, армии сыны!
Когда ж тираны нас заставят
В бою геройски пасть за них –
Убийцы, в вас тогда направим
Мы жерла пушек боевых!


Лишь мы, работники всемирной
Великой армии труда,
Владеть землёй имеем право,
Но паразиты  – никогда!
И если гром великий грянет
Над сворой псов и палачей, –
Для нас всё так же солнце станет
Сиять огнём своих лучей.


Vstavaj prokljat’em zaklejmennyj,
Ves’ mir golodnyh i rabov!
Kipit nash razum vozmuwjonnyj
I v smertnyj boj vesti gotov.
Ves’ mir nasil’ja my razrushim
Do osnovan’ja, a zatem
My nash my novyj mir postroim,
Kto byl nikem tot stanet vsem!

(×2) Eto jest’ nash poslednij
I reshitel’nyj boj;
S Internacionalom
Vosprjanet rod ljudskoj!

Nikto ne dast nam izbavlen’ja:
Ni bog, ni car’ i ne geroj
Dob’jomsja my osvobozhden’ja
Svoeju sobstvennoj rukoj.
Chtob svergnut’ gnjot rukoj umeloj,
Otvoevat’ svojo dobro,-
Vzduvajte gorn i kujte smelo,
Poka zhelezo gorjacho!


Dovol’no krov’ sosat’, vampiry,
Tjur’moj, nalogom niwetoj!
U vas — vsja vlast’, vse blaga mira,
A nashe pravo — zvuk pustoj!
My zhizn’ postroim po inomu-
I vot nash lozung boevoj:
Vsja vlast’ narodu trudovomu!
A darmoedov vseh doloj!


Prezrenny vy v svojom bogatstve,
Uglja i stali koroli!
Vy vashi trony tunejadcy,
Na nashih spinah vozveli.
Zavody, fabriki, palaty –
Vsjo nashim sozdano trudom.
Pora! My trebuem vozvrata
Togo chto vzjato grabezhjom.


Dovol’no, koroljam v ugodu,
Durmanit’ nas v chadu vojny!
Vojna tiranam! Mir Narodu!
Bastujte armii syny!
Kogda zh tirany nas zastavjat
V boju gerojski past’ za nih –
Ubijcy v vas togda napravim
My zherla pushek boevyh!


Lish’ my, rabotniki vsemirnoj
Velikoj armii truda!
Vladet’ zemljoj imeem pravo,
No parazity — nikogda!
I esli grom velikij grjanet
Nad svoroj psov i palachej,
Dlja nas vsjo takzhe solnce stanet
Sijat’ ognjom svoih luchej.


Stand up, ones who are branded by the curse,
All the world's starving and enslaved!
Our outraged minds are boiling,
Ready to lead us into a deadly fight.
We will destroy this world of violence
Down to the foundations, and then
We will build our new world.
He who was nothing will become everything!

(×2) This is our final
and decisive battle;
With the Internationale
humanity will rise up!

No one will grant us deliverance,
Not god, nor tsar, nor hero.
We will win our liberation,
With our very own hands.
To throw down oppression with a skilled hand,
To take back what is ours —
Fire up the furnace and hammer boldly,
while the iron is still hot!


You've sucked enough of our blood, you vampires,
With prison, taxes and poverty!
You have all the power, all the blessings of the world,
And our rights are but an empty sound!
We'll make our own lives in a different way —
And here is our battle cry:
All the power to the people of labour!
And away with all the parasites!


Contemptible you are in your wealth,
You kings of coal and steel!
You had your thrones, parasites,
At our backs erected.
All the factories, all the chambers —
All were made by our hands.
It's time! We demand the return
Of that which was stolen from us.


Enough of the will of kings
Stupefying us into the haze of war!
War to the tyrants! Peace to the people!
Go on strike, sons of the army!
And if the tyrants tell us
To fall heroically in battle for them —
Then, murderers, we will point
The muzzles of our cannons at you!


Only we, the workers of the worldwide
Great army of labor,
Have the right to own the land,
But the parasites — never!
And if the great thunder rolls
Over the pack of dogs and executioners,
For us, the sun will forever
Shine on with its fiery beams.


Toscanini and Hymn of the Nations

The change of the Soviet Union's national anthem from "The Internationale" to the "State Anthem of the USSR" was a factor in the production of the 1944 movie Hymn of the Nations, which made use of an orchestration of "The Internationale" that Arturo Toscanini had already done the year before for a 1943-11-07 NBC radio broadcast commemorating the twenty-sixth anniversary of the October Revolution.[23] It was incorporated into Verdi's Inno delle nazioni alongside the national anthems of the United Kingdom (already in the original) and the United States (incorporated by Toscanini for a prior radio broadcast of the Inno in January of that year) to signify the side of the Allies during World War Two.[23][24]

Toscanini's son Walter remarked that an Italian audience for the movie would see the significance of Arturo being willing to play these anthems and unwilling to play Giovinezza and the Marcia Reale because of his anti-Fascist political views.[23] Alexandr Hackenschmied, the film's director, expressed his view that the song was "ormai archeologico" (nearly archaeological), but this was a countered in a letter by Walter Toscanini to Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, rejecting the objections of Borgese, Hackenschmied, and indeed the Office of War Information.[25] At the time, Walter stated that he believed that "The Internationale" had widespread relevance across Europe, and in 1966 he recounted in correspondence that the OWI had "panicked" when it had learned of the Soviet Union's plans, but Arturo had issued an ultimatum that if "The Internationale", "l'inno di tutte le glebe ed i lavoratori di tutto il mondo" (the anthem of the working classes of the whole world) was not included, that if the already done orchestration and performance were not used as-is, then they should forget about distributing the film entirely.[25]

The inclusion of "The Internationale" in the Toscanini's minds was not simply for the sake of a Soviet Union audience, but because of its relevance to all countries of the world.[26] Although Walter did not consider "The Internationale" to be "good music", he considered it to be (as he stated to the OWI) "more than the hymn of a nation or a party" and "an idea of brotherhood".[26]

It would have been expensive to re-record a new performance of the Inno without "The Internationale", and it remained in the movie as originally released.[27] Some time during the McCarthy Era, however, it was edited out of re-released copies, and remained so until a 1988 Library of Congress release on video, which restored "The Internationale" to the movie.[27]

Winston Churchill and National Anthems of the Allies

A similar situation had occurred earlier in the War with the BBC's popular weekly Sunday evening radio broadcast, preceding the Nine O'Clock News, titled National Anthems of the Allies, whose playlist was all of the national anthems of the countries allied with the United Kingdom, the list growing with each country that Germany invaded.[28][29] After the Germans began their invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), it was fully expected that "The Internationale", as the anthem of the Soviet Union, would be included in the playlist that day, but to people's surprise it was not, neither that week nor the week after.[29] Winston Churchill, a staunch opponent of communism, had immediately sent word to the BBC via Anthony Eden that "The PM has issued an instruction to the Ministry of Information that the Internationale is on no account to be played by the B.B.C." (emphasis in the original).[30][31]

Newspapers such as the Daily Express and Daily Mail were sharply critical of the Foreign Office, and questions were asked in the House of Commons.[32][31] Ambassador Ivan Maisky recorded in his diary a conversation with Duff Cooper on 11 July 1941 where Cooper asked him if the music played after Vyacheslav Molotov's speech on 22 June would be acceptable to the Soviet Union, and he replied that it would not be.[33][34] (The music was Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.[29]) On the evening of 13 July, the BBC instead played, in Maisky's words, "a very beautiful but little-known Soviet song", which he described as demonstrating "the British Government's cowardice and foolishness".[35][34] Rather than risk offending the Soviet Union by continuing to pointedly refuse to play its national anthem in a radio programme entitled National Anthems, the BBC discontinued the programme.[30][36] Six months later, on 22 January 1942, Churchill relented and lifted the prohibition.[36][31]

This relaxation enabled "The Internationale" to be used in wartime broadcasts and films, and at public occasions, thereafter.[37] The BBC's 1943 Salute to the Red Army had a mass performance of "The Internationale" at the Royal Albert Hall by the choir of the Royal Choral Society, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and military bands, in front of the flag of the Soviet Union and following a speech by Anthony Eden.[37][38][39] The day before, which was Red Army Day, troops and the audience had sung "The Internationale" to the Lord Mayor of Bristol.[38] The 1944 movie Tawny Pipit depicted schoolchildren in the fictional village of Lipton Lea welcoming the character Olga Boclova (based upon Ludmilla Pavlichenko) to their town by singing "The Internationale".[37]

Soviet cinema and theatre

Dmitry Shostakovich used "The Internationale" twice for the movie soundtrack to the 1936 Soviet movie Girl Friends, once performed by a military-style band when a group of women are preparing for war, and a second time as a solo performance on a theremin.[40]

Nikolai Evreinov's 1920 The Storming of the Winter Palace used both "The Internationale" and "La Marseillaise" symbolically in opposition to each other, with the former sung by the "Red platform" proletariat side and the latter sung by the "White platform" government side, the former starting weakly and in disarray but gradually becoming organised and drowning out the latter.[41]


Qu Qiubai revised the translation of the lyrics into Chinese after having attended the Fourth Conference of Comintern in November 1921 and having not been able to join in the spontaneous singing by attendees there of "The Internationale" in their various home languages with their own Chinese rendition because the Chinese attendees did not have a good one.[42] He proceeded, according to the political memoirs of his contemporaries, in 1923 to re-translate the lyrics from the original French at the organ in his cousin's home in Beijing, publishing them in New Youth, a journal of which he was the editor-in-chief.[43]

This has become part of the cultural narrative of Qu's life, including in a 2001 television dramatisation of events, The Sun Rises from the East, where Qu is depicted as explaining to Cai Hesen that he (Qu) did not translate the song's title because he wished to make the Chinese version, which used a phonetic rendering of the French name using Chinese words "yingtenaixiongnaier", accessible to a multi-lingual non-Chinese-speaking audience.[43] The television dramatisation included excerpts from the movie Lenin in October, a popular movie in China during the time of Mao with scenes that were set to "The Internationale".[44]

Lenin in October was one of several movies from Soviet cinema translated into Chinese in the 1950s that led to the widespread popularity of "The Internationale" in the early years of the PRC.[45] Others include Lenin in 1918, a 1939 movie which came to China in 1951, with "The Internationale" abruptly terminated at the point in the movie that Lenin is shot by an assassin; and the 1952 The Unforgettable 1919 which came to China that same year and used "The Internationale" for a mass rally scene involving Joseph Stalin.[46]

Chinese movies about martyrs to the CCP cause would begin to incorporate the song into pivotal scenes later in the 1950s, this use peaking in the 1960s with inclusion into such movies as the 1965 Living Forever in Burning Flames depicting the execution of Jiang Jie.[47] In the 1956 movie Mother, the character Lao Deng, a local revolutionary leader, is depicted singing "The Internationale" on the way to his execution, and in the 1960 A Revolutionary Family, the son of the protagonist (in chorus with his fellow prisoners) also sings "The Internationale" on the way to his execution.[48] It would become a leitmotif of Chinese Revolutionary (model) cinema.[49]

Political memoirs of Li Dazhao's daughter Li Xinghua recount his explaining the lyrics of the song to her, he having encountered it on his travels with Qu in 1923 and during his visit to Moscow the following year.[44] He also encouraged people to sing it during socialist activism training sessions in 1925 and 1926.[44] As with Qu, the song forms part of the cultural narrative of his life, it being the widely accepted account of his execution in 1927 that he sang the song in the last moments of his life.[44]

As with Qu and Li, the song is found in many places in political histories of CCP leaders and martyrs to its cause, symbolising their socialist ideals, including Zhu De, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping.[50] It has also seen continued, and sometimes contradictory, uses over the decades as politics in China have changed, such as (for one example) Chen Yun's use in the 1960s to justify a new agricultural land allocation policy.[51] It has maintained its status as a de facto CCP anthem, and its continued relevance over the decades can be seen in its inclusion in all three of the 1964 The East Is Red, the 1984 The Song of the Chinese Revolution, and the 2009 The Road to Prosperity.[45]

While the song has a wide influence as an adjunct of official ideology, it has also been used in counter-cultural movements, such as the demonstrators in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests singing it during their final retreat.[52] Barbara Mittler maintains that this dual use of "The Internationale" by the government and by people demonstrating against it disproves any hypothesis that "a certain type of music 'depicts' a certain social environment".[53]

"The Internationale" continues to be popular with 21st century Chinese audiences, as exemplified by its reception by audience when sung at the second curtain call of the "Shocking" concert of Liu Han, Liao Changyong, and Mo Hualun.[54]

Qu was hired as a translator for students at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East in Moscow, where he met Xiao San in 1922, who had newly arrived from France.[55] There, Xiao was drawn into the performing arts as a vehicle for revolutionary messages and, in conjunction with other students, translated "The Internationale" and several Soviet songs from the original French and Russian into Chinese, separately from Qu's work in Beijing in 1923.[56] Xiao re-worked his translation in 1939, adding to it an explanatory history.[57] Ironically, the translation in the television dramatisation The Sun Rises from the East that is recited by the character of Qu, is not in reality Qu's translation at all, but is the 1949 official approved translation based upon Xiao's, that is additionally credited to Zheng Zhenduo.[58]

The 2004 movie My Years in France, a biopic of Deng Xiaoping, re-framed this history into a dramatic scene, set in 1920s Paris before Xiao leaves for Moscow, in which Zhou Enlai, Liu Qingyang, Zhang Shenfu, and others climb to the top of Notre Dame to sing "The Internationale" to the accompaniment of its bell Emmanuel, and the character of Xiao resolves at that point, instead, to translate the song into Chinese.[59]

Other translations

One of the earliest translations of the song dates from around 1900, when Dutch communist poet Henriette Roland Holst translated it into Dutch, with "Ontwaakt, verworpenen der aarde" ("Wake up, all who are cast away"). The American English version by Charles Kerr, and anonymous British English and Rumanian versions, were made around the same time. By the time of the 1910 International Socialist Congress in Copenhagen, versions had appeared in 18 different languages, including a Danish one by A. C. Meyer, which was sung at the end of a cantata by 500 singers.[13]

The traditional UK version of "The Internationale" is usually sung in three verses, while the American version, written by Charles Hope Kerr with five verses, is usually sung in two.[60][61] The American version is sometimes sung with the phrase "the internationale", "the international soviet", or "the international union" in place of "the international working class". In English renditions, "Internationale" is sometimes sung as /ɪntərnæʃəˈnæli/ rather than the French pronunciation of [ɛ̃tɛʁnasjɔnal(ə)]. In modern usage, the American version also often uses "their" instead of "his" in "Let each stand in his place", and "free" instead of "be" in "Shall be the Human race".

The first line of the song has been translated differently into various languages.[62] The original French "debout" means "stand up", and this is retained in the Russian translation and several English ones, but the German translation is "aufwachen" meaning "wake up"/"arise" and this connotation of sleeping can also be found in English versions that read "Arise ye workers from your slumber".[62]

The existence of multiple translations led the song to gain pride of place in the official songbook of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, as it was a song that volunteers from many countries could all sing together, each in their own languages but all to the same tune.[63]

Timothy Garton Ash related a pronounced role reversal in the August 1980 negotiations surrounding the creation of Solidarity, describing in his 1983 book The Polish Revolution striking workers watching the plenary of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party on television.[64] In response to the government officials singing "The Internationale" on screen, a Party ritual, workers spontaneously broke into a recital of the national anthem of Poland, which Ash characterised as "'Arise ye prisoners of want' pipes the box; 'Poland is not yet lost' thunders the hall."[64]

Allusions in other works

The "anthem" in the early pages of George Orwell's Animal Farm has been described as a "parody"[65] or a "reconfiguration"[66] of "The Internationale"; Orwell's text states (as a "humorous introduction") that it was sung as "between Clementine and La Cucaracha",[67] in reference to "Oh My Darling, Clementine" and "La Cucaracha".[66]

William Carlos Williams' poem Choral: The Pink Church alludes to the lyrics of "The Internationale" in order to symbolise Communism, the poem otherwise barely mentioning Communism directly, Williams himself claiming to be "a pink [...] not a red" in a letter discussing the poem.[68]

One of Aleksandr Lebedev-Frontov's most famous works, which hung in the headquarters of the National Bolshevik Party, is a poster of the French Fantomas aiming a pistol at the viewer, subtitled with the first line of the Russian version of "The Internationale".[69]

The Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky concluded his play Mystery-Bouffe with an "Internationale of the Future", set to the tune of the Internationale, but with lyrics describing a complete, perfect classless society as an existing fact.

Translations into other languages

English translations

Pete Seeger asked Billy Bragg to sing "The Internationale" with him at the Vancouver Folk Festival in 1989. Bragg thought the traditional English lyrics were archaic and unsingable (Scottish musician Dick Gaughan[70] and former Labour MP Tony Benn[71] disagreed), and composed a new set of lyrics.[72] The recording was released on his album The Internationale along with reworkings of other socialist songs.

Bengali translation

"The Internationale" was first translated to Bengali by the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. It was also translated by Hemanga Biswas[73] and Mohit Banerji, that was subsequently adopted by West Bengal's Left Front.[74]

Chinese translations

In addition to the Mandarin version, "The Internationale" also has Cantonese[75] and Taiwanese Hokkien[76] versions, occasionally used by communists or leftists in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The word "Internationale" is not translated in either version. There is also a Uyghur version, a Tibetan version,[77] and Mongolian version translated from the Chinese version which is used for ethnic minorities of China.

Filipino translation

There were three Filipino versions of the song. The first was composed by Juan Feleo of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 under the title "Pandaigdigang Awit ng Manggagawa" (The International Worker's Anthem) which was translated from the English version. The second version was a retranslation of the first two stanzas on the basis of the French original by the Communist Party of the Philippines. The third version, which introduced the third stanza, was derived from both Chinese and French versions and translated by Jose Maria Sison, the CPP's founding chairman.[78]

German translations

The original French text has six stanzas. The best-known and still widespread German-language adaptation was created by Emil Luckhardt (1880–1914) in 1910. His version is merely based on the original French text and is limited to a translation of the first two stanzas and the last stanza of the French song that is somewhat weakened and romanticised in its radicalism.

Apart from Luckhardt's version, there are at least seven other lesser-known German text variants—each relating to specific historical situations or ideologically divergent socialist, communist and anarchist alignments. In addition to the Luckhardt version mentioned above, there is a version penned by Franz Diederich (1908) and by Sigmar Mehring. In 1919 a version was written by Erich Mühsam and in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War another one for the German Thälmann Brigade (cf. also International Brigades) by Erich Weinert.

Kurdish translations

This anthem was translated into Kurdish language by poets such as Kakay Falah and Rebwar and performed by singers such as Kalle Atashi and Raza Yusif Beygi.

Korean translation

The Internationale is used in both Koreas, though it is more commonly used in the North. The DPRK uses "The Internationale" in propaganda and music,[79] Party Congresses,[80] and even sports events.[81] In the South, the Internationale has been used by labour unions and protestors but remains less celebrated. As the northern lyrics are often considered too archaic and Communistic by southerners, there are 2 presently used versions of the Korean Internationale – the traditional lyrics, and the newer lyrics. While the northern lyrics borrow heavily from the Russian Internationale, the southern lyrics are completely original. In addition, the Southern refrain is longer and does not repeat.[82]

Persian translation

For the first time, Abolqasem Lahouti, an Iranian poet and songwriter, translated and standardized this hymn into Persian. It was used as the official anthem of the short lived Persian Socialist Soviet Republic and one of the main anthems of the communist Tudeh Party of Iran.[83][84]

Portuguese translation

Originally translated to Portuguese by Neno Vasco in 1909 from the French version,[85] a very similar version was wildly disseminated during the general strike of 1917 by anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists. The main difference between the two versions is that in the third verse the Brazilian version goes "Lords, bosses, supreme chiefs" (Senhores, Patrões, chefes supremos) while the Portuguese version is "Messiah, God, supreme chiefs" (Messias, Deus, chefes supremos).

Sinhalese translation

On April 5, 1978, Lionel Bopage translated and released a Sinhalese version titled "Jātyantara Gītaya" ("ජාත්‍යන්තර ගීතය"), or "The International Song". This version was translated from the original French and German versions. The vocals were provided by Lionel Bopage and Sunila Abeysekera. Sena Weerasekera, State Music Director of Radio Ceylon composed the music. Bopage and Abeysekara had initially approached Premasiri Khemadasa to compose, but he declined.[86][87]

Vietnamese translation

"The Internationale" was first translated into Vietnamese by the founder of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the first President of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, under the pseudonym "Nguyễn Ái Quốc".[88] The current lyrics in Vietnamese were translated by the 1st and 2nd General Secretaries of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Trần Phú and Lê Hồng Phong. It was subsequently adopted by the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Audio files

See also



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  10. ^ a b c d Brécy 1991, p. 245.
  11. ^ Maugendre 1996, p. 266.
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  25. ^ a b Marvin 2017, p. 107.
  26. ^ a b Marvin 2017, pp. 107–108.
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  70. ^ Gaughan, Dick. "The Internationale". Dick Gaughan's Song Archive. Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. I can see no more point in trying to 'modernise' it than I would in repainting the Cistine [sic] Chapel or rewriting Shakespeare's plays.
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  72. ^ Billy Bragg – Internationale on YouTube, from the Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Concert (The Clearwater Concert) at Madison Square Garden, 3 May 2009.
  73. ^ "Remembering Hemanga Biswas: An artivist who fought to have it all".
  74. ^ "জাগো জাগো জাগো সর্বহারা – Bangla Lyrics । বাংলা লিরিক".
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  83. ^ "Taraneh sorod". Archived from the original on 1 November 2005. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
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Further reading

  • Taruskin, Richard (2016). "The ghetto and the imperium". Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520288089.
  • Drott, Eric (2011). Music and the Elusive Revolution: Cultural Politics and Political Culture in France, 1968–1981. California Studies in 20th-Century Music. Vol. 12. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520950085.

Documentary film on the anthem

Peter Miller produced and directed a half-hour documentary on the anthem (The Internationale (2000) First Run/Icarus Films) with interviews with a range of people including Annette Rubinstein, Vladimir Grigorʹevich Zak, Marina Feleo-Gonzalez, Pete Seeger, Dorothy Ray Healey, Li Lu and Billy Bragg. The film aims to provide a cultural history of the anthem that addresses the complexities of the relationships between the collective and the individual. [1][2] The film was short-listed for the Academy Award nomination for the Best Short Documentary and won the Woodstock Film Festival, Best Short Documentary award.[3]

  1. ^ Atkinson, Ted. "The Internationale." Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 31, no. 2 (2001): 62-62.
  2. ^ Fletcher, I. C. (2002). The Internationale. Radical History Review, 82(1), 187-190.
  3. ^ TVF International : The Internationale https://tvfinternational.com/programme/15/the-internationale