In 1938, as troubles started in Europe, which would cause WW II, composer Matvey Blanter and his friend poet Mikhail Isakovsky wrote the score and lyrics for the song Katyusha. It tells the story of a peasant girl, Katyusha, who longs for her boyfriend, who is serving at the army far away. The song evokes three central themes that are very important for the Russians: the loyal girl, the heroic soldier and the motherland.
In July 1941, as the German armies had already killed or captured thousands of Russians, female students from an industrial school in Moscow sang the song to the soldiers marching past them to the front. From that moment the song became popular throughout Russia and Poland, it became a call to fight off the nazis.
At the same time, in July 1941, mobile rocket launchers were used for the first time. The letter K on their side, from the Voronezh Komintern Factory where they were built, led to the adoption of the name Katyusha. The scream of the rockets, as they left the launcher was called Stalin's Organ.
Still during war, in 1943, as Italy joined the Allies, Felice Cascione wrote Italian lyrics for "Katyusha". His adaption "Fischia il vento" (The wind blows) became one of the most famous partisan anthems.
During the Greek civil war, Greek partisans who had also fought against the German invasion in 1941, wrote their own version of Katyusha. They called it "The hymn of EAM".
In 1968 the song was recorded in Russian, the French adaption came under the name "Casatshock". Katyusha was sung in America by Nat King Cole and it was also sung in Germany. Till now it has been covered several times. The melody has been used as background music for video games and it has been used in movies. Nowadays and throughout the world Katyusha still is a wellknown and highly appreciated song.
Расцветали яблони и груши,
Поплыли туманы над рекой.
Выходила на берег Катюша,
На высокий берег на крутой.
Выходила, песню заводила
Про степного, сизого орла,
Про того, которого любила,
Про того, чьи письма берегла.
Ой ты, песня, песенка девичья,
Ты лети за ясным солнцем вслед.
И бойцу на дальнем пограничье
От Катюши передай привет.
Пусть он вспомнит девушку простую,
Пусть услышит, как она поёт,
Пусть он землю бережёт родную,
А любовь Катюша сбережёт.
Rastsvitali yabloni i grushi,
Paplyli tumany nad rekoy.
Vykhodila na bereg Katyusha,
Na vysokii bereg na krutoy.
Vykhodila, pesnyu zavodila
Pra stepnovo, sizogo orla,
Pra togo, katorogo lyubila,
Pra togo, ch'i pis'ma beregla.
Oy ty, pyesnya, pyesenka devich'ya,
Ty leti za yasnym solntsem vsled.
I boytsu na dal'nem pogranich'e
Ot Katyushi peredai privyet.
Pust' on vspomnit devushku prostuyu,
Pust' uslyshit, kak ona payot,
Pust' on zemlu berezhyot rodnuyu,
A lyubov' Katyusha sberezhyot.
Apple trees were blooming white and fuchsia.
O'er the river fog began to creep.
Out along the water walked Katyusha
Down the river's bank so high and steep.
As she walked, she started sweetly singing
Of a gray steppe eagle high above,
Of him to whose letters she was clinging,
Of the one, to whom she'd pledged her love.
Oh you song! You little maiden's chorus,
Fly away beyond the sun and snow.
To the distant soldier serving for us
Tell him that Katyusha says hello.
May he think about her on occasion,
May he hear her heartfelt little song,
May he guard our homeland from invasion,
And their love Katyusha will keep strong.
Translation David Bennett