In the wake of the Wall Street crash in October 1929 as Great Depression erupted Julian Tuwim wrote the following poem. Ten years later the world was engulfed by the World War Two.
To the simple man
When every wall is hid by many
new posters freshly pasted up,
when ‘to the people’, ‘to the Army’,
in black print stare appeals alarming,
and any dolt, and any pup
will take for gospel each old lie
that one should go and shoot off guns
and murder, poison, rob, at once;
start drumming into all our noggins
the ‘Fatherland’; the mob incite,
bamboozle with bright-coloured slogans,
egg on with ‘Our historic right’,
‘every inch’, ‘glory’, ‘sacred borders’,
with ‘our forebears’, ‘pay the price’,
with ‘heroes’, ‘flag’ and ‘sacrifice’;
when bishop, pastor, rabbi come
to say a blessing on each gun,
for God has told them, that His will
is that for Country – you should kill;
when gutter tabloid screams and rages
in letters huge on its front pages,
and herds of females lose their voice
throwing bouquets at ‘our brave boys’,
– O, my untutored simple friend,
mate from this land, or other land!
Know that the bells for these alarums
kings strike, with girls with ample charms,
Know it’s all hogwash, lies perverted,
And when these call out: ‘Shoulder arms!’
That somewhere from the ground oil spurted,
With dollars soiling the bright colours;
That in their banks there’s something rotten,
They smelled some moneybags, it looks,
Or cooked some scheme, the oily crooks,
For higher import tax for cotton.
Drum on the pavement with your gun!
Ours the blood, the oil is theirs!
And through each capital and town
Scream out, to guard your cash blood-won:
‘Tell us another, noble sirs!’.
(translated from Polish by Marcel Weyland)