Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lili Marleen — Its World War I Roots

Underneath the lantern by the barrack gate
Darling I remember the way you used to wait
Twas there that you whispered tenderly
That you loved me
You'd always be
My Lili of the lamplight
My own Lili Marleen

Time would come for roll call
Time for us to part
Darling I'd caress you and press you to my heart
And there 'neath that far off lantern light
I'd hold you tight
We'd kiss good-night
My Lili of the lamplight
My own Lili Marleen

Marlene Dietrich Entertaining British Troops in World War II

"Lili Marleen" was a German love song which became popular during World War II with soldiers of both sides.  It was based on a 1915 poem written by a German Soldier name Hans Leip, who was serving in the Carpathian Mountains at the time. Leip wrote his poem to express the anguish of separation from his sweetheart, a grocer's daughter named Lili. On sentry duty at night, he would receive a friendly wave from a nurse going off duty; her name was Marleen.  In 1937, feeling that the darkness of another war was looming, Leip released his collection of poems, including "The Song of a Young Sentry", under the title Die Hafenorgel ("The Little Organ by the Harbour"). 

It was his hope that those who had not lived through the First World War might be alerted to the pain and horror of wars fought in the name of "national pride". It was published under the title "Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht" (German for "The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch") in 1937 and was first recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939 under the title "Das Mädchen unter der Laterne" ("The Girl under the Lantern").

Despite efforts by the Nazis to suppress it because of the song's antiwar tone, it was played on a German Army radio station playing to the troops in North Africa. It soon became as popular with the British troops as with the German. It later became the signature sone of Marlene Dietrich when she performed for Allied troops.

Marlene Dietrich Sings the English Version on YouTube

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