Suzanne Doucet released a series of singles in the mid-sixties in Germany. Like many of her contemporaries her songs often fell somewhere between Schlager and the hipper sounds being produced in France by the Yé-Yé girls.

By 1967 the hits were drying up and Doucet changed direction, moving towards a quieter folk based style. This song, which she wrote herself, was her entry to the Knokke Cup song festival. It’s a gentle protest song, completely different to the upbeat pop she was best known for. It didn’t win but the more thoughtful sound did revive her career.

NB I got the German lyrics from this blog: http://www.tantepop.de/2011/10/kleinode-deutschsprachiger-musik-26.html.

Also, thanks to various people at Lyrics Translate for suggesting improvements to my original translation.


Kleine Kinder
Kleine Kinder müssen spielen
Kleine Kinder
Wissen nicht womit sie spielen
Panzer, Blei und Zinnsoldaten
Blechkanonen, Pappgranaten,
Die die Eltern ihnen schenken
Ohne einmal nachzudenken…
Über Kinder
Kleine Kinder müssen sterben
Kleine Kinder
Wissen nicht wofür sie sterben
Ob für Vietnam und China
Ob für Kuba, Palästina
Was wir 1000 Kindern stehlen
Wenn wir einen Krieg befehlen
Im Vorübergehen
braucht man nicht so richtig hinzusehen
Im Vorübergehen
werden Mörder plötzlich groß und schön
Denn für bunte Spielzeugorden
darf man kleine Kinder morden
Trotz des Grauens aller Kriege
Diese ewig neue Lüge…
Große Kinder
Große Kinder wollen spielen
Große Kinder
Wissen längst womit sie spielen
Panzerkreuzer und Soldaten
Bomben, Flieger und Granaten
Die sie wieder Kindern schenken
Ohne einmal nachzudenken… über Kinder

Little children
Little children have to play
Little children
Don’t know what they’re playing with
Tanks, lead and tin soldiers
Metal toy cannons, cardboard shells
That their parents give them
Without even thinking…
About children
Little children have to die
Little children
Don’t know why they’re dying
Whether for Vietnam or China
Whether for Cuba, Palestine
What we steal from 1,000 children
When we order a war
In passing
One doesn’t need to look straight at it
In passing
Murderers are suddenly big and beautiful
Because for colorful toy medals
One may kill small children
Despite the horror of all wars
That same old lie that is always repeated...
Big children
Big children want to play
Big children
Already know what they’re playing with
Armoured cruisers and soldiers
Bombs, planes and shells
they give children again
Without even thinking… about children


I decided to have a look at German adjectives in this post, hoping they would be relatively simple, but I seem to have opened a can of worms…

In Germany when you order a beer you often get the reply ‘Groß oder klein?’ (‘Big or small?’)

Here we use the root form of the adjective ‘klein’. However, in the title of the song ‘Kleine Kinder’ the adjective ‘klein’ comes with an ‘e’ is added.  Why?

If you use a definite article then the gender of the noun makes no difference and an –e is added to the adjective in all instances. However, an extra –n is added to the plural.

Masculine: (schnell / fast): Der schnelle Tiger (the fast tiger).

Feminine: (jung / young): Die junge Dame (the young lady).

Neuter: (klug / clever): Das kluge Kind (the clever child).

Plural: (gut / good): Die guten Bücher (the good books).

However, for indefinite articles the pattern is different. Masculine nouns add –er, Feminine  nouns add –e and neuter nouns add –es. For plurals (with no article) you add –e.

Masculine: (schnell / fast): Ein schneller Tiger (a fast tiger).

Feminine: (jung / young): Eine junge Dame (a young lady).

Neuter: (klug / clever): Ein kluges Kind (a clever child).

Plural: (gut / good): Gute Bücher (good books).

This is confusing, but one tip is to use the definite articles to help you remember this pattern:

Masculine: Der Tiger => Ein schneller Tiger (a fast tiger).

Feminine:  Die Dame => Eine junge Dame (a young lady).

Neuter: Das Kind => Ein kluges Kind (a clever child).

Plural:  Die Bücher => Gute Bücher (good books).

So finally we can see why the title of the song is ‘Kleine Kinder’ – Kinder is plural and there is no article so an –e is added to the adjective.

NB Above I only considered the Nominative case, the simplest case in German.

Please note that most of the examples here are taken from this excellent article: http://german.speak7.com/german_adjectives.htm


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