This week the long awaited next installment of the legendary Wolfenstein series will be available fort he gamer community. Every since Wolfenstein 3D (1992, free-to-play on http://3d.wolfenstein.com) revolutionized the game genre, its name stands for darkness, occultism and Nazism, conjoined in a most twisted fashion. We all remember the Lady Blavatsky, a reference to the famous founder of the Theosophy, as head of the SS Paranormal Division (Return to Castle Wolfenstein, 2001) and the dimension walking iconic superhero “B.J.” Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein, 2009).
In the new installment, dubbed The New Order, Bethesda Softworks stayed true tot he Wolfenstein legacy, but also to its own history of allohistorical game narratives (like Dishonored and Fallout 3). Before the events of WNO, Adolf Hitler – apparently – has won the race to develop a working atomic bomb just before the Americans, leading to the Nazi victory not only in Europe, but also in the United States of America. In one of the trailers the famous presidential heads of Mount Rushmore are detonated by grinding Nazi’s.
What the game will be like, is largely to be guessed, but the signs are promising. For promotional purposes Bethesda set up a fake music company, named ‘Neumond Recording Company’. Die 1960er- eine Zeit des Friedens. Wohlstands und rock ‘n’ roll. Jetzt sind die beliebsten Hits dieser ära zum ersten Mal für Sie, unseren treuen Fans, erhältlich. Bethesda recreated the most famous American hits from the sixties, but adjusted to the new ‘order’, that is Nazi ideology. Most important change is the language: the new lingua franca is not English anymore, but German.
Amongst the titles of Neumond one can find music from Die Käfer (The Beatles) and songs like Weltraum Surfen (a German rendering of Surfin’ USA) and Haus Abendrot (a pastiche of the famous song The Hous of the Rising Sun). When you’re a fan of the Wolfenstein series, keen on the German language and if you have a heart for the perfect allohistory in Bethesda style, you will their Haus Abendrot. Thanks to my colleague Tobias Knoll from Heidelberg University, I can present you with the German text of House and a English translation. Performing is Wilbert Eckart und seine Volksmusik Stars.
Es gibt ein Haus in Neu Berlin
man nennt es Haus Abendrot.
Es war der Ruin vieler guter Jungs
und von mir, mein Gott litt ich Not.
There is a house in New Berlin
they call House of the Setting Sun.
It’s been the ruin of many good boys
and me, god how I did suffer.
Hätt ich meinem Anführer zugehört
ich wäre heute daheim.
War jung und dumm, war ein armer Jung
auf den Abweg geführt und gemein.
Had I listened to my leader
I would be home today.
I was young and stupid, was a poor boy
who was led astray.
Sagt meinem kleinen Schwesterlein
dass sie mir nicht nachrennt.
Soll meiden das Haus in Neu Berlin
das Haus Abendrot man nennt.
Go tell my baby sister
not to follow in my steps.
To shun that house in New Berlin
they call House of the Setting Sun.
Meine Mutter war eine Schneiderin
verkaufte diese Uniform.
Meine Liebste ist eine Trinkerin
Mein Gott sie trinkt gern in Neu-Berlin.
My mother was a tailor
she sold this uniform.
My beloved is a drunkard
my god she likes to drink in New-Berlin
Ich geh zurück nach Neu Berlin
ein getriebener von meiner Not.
Den Rest meiner Tage bleib ich dort
dort bei dem Haus Abendrot.
I’m going back to New Berlin
driven by my misery.
The rest of my days I will remake
at the House of the Setting Sun.
The exact meaning of the The House of the Rising Sun is unknown. Texts, perspective and interpretation varies among the number of artists who have worked with this song (The Animals, Jody Miller, Dolly Parton, etc.) Sometimes the ‘I’ is a man (usually a gambler who is trapped in a live of brothels and casinos), more often a female (let astray by a gambling man, deserted and forced to work as a prostitute). Other interpretations include slaves mourning their lost freedom or prisoners warning society not ‘to do what I have done’. Pamela D Arceneaux (from the Williams Research Center in New Orleans):
I have made a study of the history of prostitution in New Orleans and have often confronted the perennial question, ‘Where is the House of the Rising Sun?’ without finding a satisfactsory answer. Although it is generally assumed that the singer is referring to a brothel, there is actually nothing in the lyrics that indicate that the ‘house’ is a brothel. Many knowledgeable persons have conjectured that a better case can be made for either a gambling hall or a prison; however, to paraphrase Freud: sometimes lyrics are just lyrics. (Bron: http://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A12460772)
Pacifistic or anti American?
The Neumond version of WNO also variates slightly in its lyrics. With some fantasy you can hear the voice of a German Nazi soldier, going to ‘New Berlin’, that is, occupied America. Their he mourns about the troubles of his military life. And he warns his family and fellow Germans not to follow in his steps. Two interpretations are possible. The first is that the singer of Haus Abendrot has second thoughts about winning the Second World War, making this song sound somewhat pacifistic. The second interpretation is that America is compared to the brothel the original ‘House’ is often thought to be, making this song strongly anti American.
Pacifistic or anti American, Bethesda has done a remarkable job in making the allohistory of their Wolfenstein New Order a believable one. I, for one, am certainly going to play. Review will follow shortly after.