Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Mandolin Kills Fascists

Posted last week on Marek Edelman and the 1943 resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto. Surviving this, he later took part in the following year's wider anti-nazi uprising in the city. From the latter episode I have come across this interesting tale in 'The Recollections of Witold Górski Р1944 Warsaw uprising' (for some reason there is a mistake on the webpage and it says 1994 - but clearly it's about 1944):

'I was involved in transporting guns, in a mandolin.., a stringed instrument vaguely similar to a guitar. The notes it produced when played under such circumstances were atrociously off key. The conductor of the streetcar I was riding with my illicit cargo was in on the secret. When he sensed that the streetcar was about to be stopped and searched by the Germans, my dreadful playing gave him an excuse to grab me by the scruff of the neck and throw me off the vehicle. That way, while the Germans were searching the streetcar passengers for weapons and contraband, I was able to walk calmly by. Further on, there would be a street musician playing a similar mandolin. It was to him that I was to deliver the gun by somehow swapping mandolins'.

I love this as it combines my interests in both militant anti-fascism and mandolins, and adds further credence to my slightly romantic but not unfounded 'notion of the portable, guerrilla instrument... a hidden history of itinerant strollers, refugees, prisoners, wobblies and other malcontents making music on small stringed instruments like ukuleles, fiddles, mandolins and the Greek baglamas' (see earlier post on the ukulele underground).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

tram trouble? speak yiddish? get`on donkey lad.