All Or Nothing

Words: Bertolt Brecht, 1934-5
English translation: Eric Bentley, c. 1940s
Melody: Hanns Eisler, 1934-5
Arranged: Ricardo Andino, 1990

What we like to describe as our one ‘show tune’, this piece was used in the final scene of a play by Ruth Berlau, Bertolt Brecht and others, called Days Of The Commune which appeared in 1949, The song however was written earlier – shortly after the Nazis rise to power in Germany. The melody is by Hanns Eisler, accused by Richard Nixon in 1947 of being the ‘Karl Marx of communism in the musical field’. Eisler reportedly replied that his interrogators were flattering him.


Who, oh slave, is going to free you?
Those who stand in darkness near you,
From the lowest depths shall hear you,
In the darkness they shall see you,
Other slaves are going to free you!

So it’s all or nothing!
None or everyone!
One cannot rescue any,
But many can rescue many!
For it’s all or nothing!
None or everyone!

Wer, Geschlagner, wird dich rachen?
Du, dem sie den Schlag versetzten,
Reih dich ein mit den Verletzten
Wir, in allen unsern Schwachen
Werden, Kamerad, dich rachen.

Keiner oder Alle!
Alles oder Nichts!
Einer kann sich da nicht retten.
Gewehre oder Ketten!
Keiner oder Alle!
Alles oder Nichts!

“Who will dare?” You ask in sorrow
Those whose misery’s past bearing
Finding finally the daring
Join with those who are declaring
“We won’t wait until tomorow!”

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