Song Lyrics – “No, I Will Not Give My Sons”

A friend in Germany sent me the link to a song, and I would like to share it with all my blogging friends. The lyrics are in German, sung by many famous European artists who all decided to not ask for any kind of pay or reimbursement to be able to participate in this powerful arrangement.

For us here in the US, the Ukraine war, like most wars, is far away. We hear and read about it, and we feel the impact financially, but overall we are watching it all from a safe distance.

“No, I will not give my sons” is the title of the song. A mother’s rebellion to let her two sons go to war. Powerful, thought-provoking, leaving us wanting to hear more.

The singer/songwriter Reinhard May, a very well-known artist in German-speaking countries and known as Frédérik Mey in France, releases a new album approximately every two years. So far he has released 27 -he is now in his late 70’s.

When he sings, people listen. I listened to him when I was a child and have followed his career over the years from far away.

The melody and the lyrics didn’t leave me alone and so I translated a bit so that some of my English-speaking friends might get to understand not just the vocals but perhaps also my feelings. I am not generally against war, some of them are necessary to stop men like Hitler, Mussolini, or Putin, but I am very much against senseless wars.

I thought about my Grandmother, who watched one son go to war when he was just a teenager. Taken right from the school bench, sent to the front in Russia, to fight for Hitler in World War II. My father survived, came back as damaged goods, and became a violent alcoholic, yet never talked about the time he spent on the front and in a Russian POW camp.

I thought about all the mothers in Ukraine who watch their sons fight for freedom and independence, something most of us take so much for granted.

Almost every soldier has a mother at home who worries every day, every hour until they come back home.

To listen to the song and read the lyrics at the same time in English, please turn on CC (Subtitles/Closed Caption) in English.

No, I will not give my sons”
“Nein meine Soehne geb ich nicht”

I think I’d better write to you in time
Ich denk’, ich schreib’ euch besser schon beizeiten

And decline your request one and forall
Und sag’ euch heute schon endgültig ab

You won’t need to spend much time looking through your list
Ihr braucht nicht lange Listen auszubreiten

To see that I also have two sons!
Um zu sehen, dass ich auch zwei Söhne hab’!

I love them both, I want to tell you that
Ich lieb’ die beiden, das will ich euch sagen

More than my own life, more than my eyesight
Mehr als mein Leben, als mein Augenlicht

And they, they will not carry weapons!
Und die, die werden keine Waffen tragen!

No, I will not give my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I won’t give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

I taught them respect for life itself
Ich habe sie die Achtung vor dem Leben

To have respect for every living being
Vor jeder Kreatur als höchsten Wert

I taught them to be merciful and forgiving
Ich habe sie Erbarmen und Vergeben

And whenever possible, they were taught to love!
Und wo immer es ging, lieben gelehrt!

I won’t allow you to corrupt them with your hate
Nun werdet ihr sie nicht mit Hass verderben

No goals, no honor, and no duty
Keine Ziele und keine Ehre, keine Pflicht

Are worth killing and dying for
Sind’s wert, dafür zu töten und zu sterben

No, I will not give my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I will not give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

As their mother I did not suffer giving birth to them for you
Ganz sicher nicht für euch hat ihre Mutter

Giving birth to them for you
Sie unter Schmerzen auf die Welt gebracht

Not for you, and not as cannon fodder
Nicht für euch und nicht als Kanonenfutter

Not for you have I spent fevered nights in fear
Nicht für euch hab’ ich manche Fiebernacht

And desperationstanding at the small crib
Verzweifelt an dem kleinen Bett gestanden

Cooling a small face glowing with fever
Und kühlt’ ein kleines glühendes Gesicht

Until we found rest in exhaustion
Bis wir in der Erschöpfung Ruhe fanden

No, I will notgive my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I will not give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

They will not march in rank and file
Sie werden nicht in Reih’ und Glied marschieren

They will not hold out or fight to the end
Nicht durchhalten, nicht kämpfen bis zuletzt

They will not freeze to death in some godforsaken field
Auf einem gottverlass’nen Feld erfrieren

While you settle into soft cushions!
Während ihr euch in weiche Kissen setzt!

Protecting my children from all dangers
Die Kinder schützen vor allen Gefahren

It’s my damn duty as father
Ist doch meine verdammte Vaterpflicht

And this also means protecting them from you!
Und das heißt auch, sie vor euch zu bewahren!

No, I will not give my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I will not give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

No, I will not give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

I will teach them to disobey
Ich werde sie den Ungehorsam lehren

I will teach them resistence
Den Widerstand und die Unbeugsamkeit

To take no orders or commands
Gegen jeden Befehl aufzubegehren

And won’t bow down before the authorities!
Und nicht zu buckeln vor der Obrigkeit!

They will learn to go their own way
Ich werd’ sie lehr’n, den eig’nen Weg zu gehen

Before no bugbear, no doomsday
Vor keinem Popanz, keinem Weltgericht

That they only have to answer to themself
Vor keinem als sich selber g’radzustehen!

No, I will not give my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I will no give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

And I rather flee with them myself (The songwriter Reinhard Mey himself)
Und eher werde ich mit ihnen fliehen

Than let you make them your servants
Als dass ihr sie zu euren Knechten macht

I rather move far away with them
Eher mit ihnen in die Fremde ziehen

In poverty and like thieves in the night!
In Armut und wie Diebe in der Nacht!

We only have this one short life
Wir haben nur dies eine kurze Leben

I swear and I’m telling you straight to your face
Ich schwör’s und sag’s euch g’rade ins Gesicht

They will not give it to your madness!
Sie werden es für euren Wahn nicht geben!

No, I won’t give my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I won’t give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

No, I won’t give my sons
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht

No, I won’t give my sons!
Nein, meine Söhne geb’ ich nicht!

Reinhard Mey (Singer/Songwriter)


36 thoughts on “Song Lyrics – “No, I Will Not Give My Sons”

  1. This was such a moving song… thank you for sharing it and the translations too. We are so removed from the situation here in the US. We say we understand but how can we truly do so without being such an involved part of it.


  2. Bridget, this is really powerful. It occurs to me regularly how divorced and protected I am from the horrors experience in the Ukraine. I read and try very intentionally to be “supportive” but I’m also aware that I really have no idea! This touched me deeply. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Song Lyrics – “No, I Will Not Give My Sons” – Nelson MCBS

  4. Powerful song, powerful message and melody. I would feel the same. Heartbreaking to have your son go to meet their death, torture or mental destruction. My husband narrowly missed compulsory teenage conscription to the Vietnam war. War = Horrors for all

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very moving and powerful, Bridget. Made me think of my husband’s grandparent’s (who were sent on a transport and never heard from again) when they lived in Germany- some of his grandmother’s siblings changed their last name to their mother’s maiden name as it somehow kept them from going to into the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, I’m in tears, thinking about my own son, his birth, the long nights he struggled with croup, barely able to breathe, and all the other things I went through with him. I understand these mothers (and fathers) very well! And I agree, there are times it’s necessary to fight tyranny, but what a heavy price is paid.
    So grateful this Thanksgiving that my Father in heaven gave HIS Son to free me from the tyranny of death and hell. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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