Universal Soldier - What happened at Labau?

In the original the lyric is “without him how would Hitler have condemned them at Dachau” in the Donovan cover it is “without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Labau”.

I totally get the reference to Dachau and it makes sense in the lyric. I have no idea what the Labau thing is about. I’ve tried to find out but failed.

So will someone please tell me what “condemned him at Labau” refers to… or did Donovan just mistake the lyric and go with his mondegreen?

I know many lyric sites give Donovan’s lyric as without him how would Hitler have condemned them at Labau but I think he actually sings without him how would Hitler have condemned them at Liebau.

Liebau was the German name for the Polish town of Lubawka. During the war, Lubawka was the site of a training centre for the Hitler-Jugend (Hitler Youth). There was also a labour camp situated in the vicinity.

Why Donovan changed the lyric is a guess, but maybe he viewed the training of young people at Liebau as a kind of condemnation by Hitler upon the youth of Germany, rather than a condemnation by Hitler of concentration inmates.

Let’s try again.

Why Donovan changed the lyric is a guess, but maybe he preferred to comment on the training of young people at Liebau as a condemnation by Hitler of the youth of Germany, rather than comment on Hitler’s condemnation of concentration camp inmates.

Thank you very much! I had always thought he sang “condemned them at Liebau” (thanks for spelling as well) butthe lyrics sites I went to all said “condemned him” so I went with it. That’ll learn me :S

Thanks again for clearing that up for me :slight_smile:

Author of this song is Buffy Sainte Marie.She wrote this song in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in 1963 after witnessing wounded soldiers returning from Vietnam. She has described the song as being “About individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.” Though not a hit for her it was covered by British folk singer Donovan in 1965 on an EP titled The Universal Soldier, which was a success and bought attention to the song. In the US it was released as a single peaking at #53. The song became an anthem of the Vietnam Peace movement.
Sainte-Marie naively sold the publishing rights to this song for a dollar to a man she met one night at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village who wrote a contract on a napkin. She recalled to The Guardian July 31, 2009: “Ten years later I bought it back for 25,000 bucks – the good news is that I had 25,000 bucks.”
Speaking to Bruce Pollock about this song, Sainte-Marie said: “I wanted it to get people out of their classrooms and onto their feet. But certain things I have to say are pitched at too high a level to bring any lasting benefit to as many people as I would like to bring it to. If I have something of myself that gets me off, that’s brought me through hard times and that refreshes and nourishes me, what good does it do if I’m not smart enough to get it to the people? And I don’t mean only the people who are like me, I mean all the people. That’s communication. There’s no sense being a closet genius. It doesn’t do me any good to keep the medicine in the bottle.”
And in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTFnWdOzrMM&feature=fvwrel (Live, 1969) she sings it straight and cleary :
" But without him, how would Hitler have condemned them at Dachau? "
BTW : IMHO Buffy’s version is lights years ahead to that of Donovan which is just “pretty good”. On the other hand without Donovan this song would have vanish in the haze of oblivion. So this the best thing he has done :slight_smile: