Lili Marleen (1915)

On 11 November, Armistice Day in most of Europe, remembering the end of a cruel and absolutely pointless war in Europe, I thought I draw your attention to this one:
Few internationally-known songs symbolise the two horrid World Wars in Europe of last the last century (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) more than the song Lili Marleen. - Here a little history of the song, together with the lyrics of it's original German version and many, many international adaptions.
The words were written in 1915 during World War I by Hans Leip (1893–1983), a school teacher from Hamburg who had been conscripted into the Imperial German Army. Hans Leip reportedly combined the names of his girlfriend and another female friend. The poem was published as 'Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht' ('The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch') in 1937, now with the two last (of five) verses added. It was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938 and first recorded - contrary to popular belief by Lale Andersen - not Marlene Dietrich - in 1939.

Norbert Schultze (left)
Lale Andersen (middle)
Hans Leip (right)

After the occupation of Belgrade, Serbia, in 1941 Radio Belgrade became the German forces' radio station under the name of Soldatensender Belgrad (Soldiers' Radio Belgrade), with transmissions heard throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. While on leave in Vienna, a lieutenant working at the station was asked to collect some records for broadcast. Amongst the pile of second-hand records from the Reich radio station was the little known two-year-old song 'Lili Marleen' sung by Lale Andersen, which up til then had barely sold around 700 copies. For lack of other recordings, Radio Belgrade played the song frequently.
At one point the Nazi government's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, ordered broadcasting of the song to stop. Radio Belgrade received many letters from Axis (German & Italian) soldiers all over Europe asking them to play 'Lili Marleen' again. Goebbels reluctantly changed his mind, and from then on the tune was used to sign-off the broadcast at 9.55pm.
Its popularity quickly grew. Soldiers stationed around the Mediterranean, including both German Afrika Korps and British Eighth Army troops, regularly tuned in to hear it. Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps, admired the song and asked Radio Belgrade to incorporate it into their broadcasts, which they did. Many Allied soldiers made a point of listening to it at the end of the day.
While the Italian version, translated by lyricist Nino Rastelli and recorded in 1942 by Lina Termini, was probably the first to be released, the earliest English language recording of the song was probably Anne Shelton's in 1944, but a number of cover versions followed. A version called 'The D-Day Dodgers' was sung by the Canadian Army remaining in Italy once the Normandy invasion had begun in 1944. A recording was made by Perry Como on 27 June 1944 and issued by RCA Victor Records.

International Lyrics:

German (Hans Leip, 1915)

1. Vor der Kaserne
Vor dem großen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht sie noch davor
So woll'n wir uns da wieder seh'n
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh'n
|: Wie einst Lili Marleen. :|

2. Unsere beide Schatten
Sah'n wie einer aus
Daß wir so lieb uns hatten
Das sah man gleich daraus
Und alle Leute soll'n es seh'n
Wenn wir bei der Laterne steh'n
|: Wie einst Lili Marleen. :|

3. Schon rief der Posten,
Sie blasen Zapfenstreich
Das kann drei Tage kosten
Kam'rad, ich komm sogleich
Da sagten wir auf Wiedersehen
Wie gerne wollt ich mit dir geh'n
|: Mit dir Lili Marleen. :|

4. Deine Schritte kennt sie,
Deinen zieren Gang
Alle Abend brennt sie,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang
Und sollte mir ein Leids gescheh'n
Wer wird bei der Laterne stehen
|: Mit dir Lili Marleen? :|

5. Aus dem stillen Raume,
Aus der Erde Grund
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein verliebter Mund
Wenn sich die späten Nebel drehn
Werd' ich bei der Laterne steh'n
|: Wie einst Lili Marleen. :|

English literal translation:

1. At the barracks compound,
By the entry way
There a lantern I found
And if it stands today
Then we'll see each other again
Near that old lantern we'll remain
As once Lili Marleen.

2. Both our shadows meeting,
Melding into one
Our love was not fleeting
And plain to everyone,
Then all the people shall behold
When we stand by that lantern old
As once Lili Marleen.

3. Then the guard to me says:
"There's tap call, let's go.
This could cost you three days."
"Be there in half a mo'."
So that was when we said farewell,
Tho' with you I would rather dwell,
With you, Lili Marleen.

4. Well she knows your foot steps,
Your own determined gait.
Ev'ry evening waiting,
Me? A mem'ry of late.
Should something e'er happen to me,
Who will under the lantern be,
With you Lili Marleen?

5. From my quiet existence,
And from this earthly pale,
Like a dream you free me,
With your lips so hale.
When the night mists swirl and churn,
Then to that lantern I'll return,
As once Lili Marleen.

English version (Tommie Connor, 1944)

Underneath the lantern,
By the barrack gate
Darling I remember
The way you used to wait
T'was there that you whispered tenderly,
That you loved me,
You'd always be,
My Lilli of the Lamplight,
My own Lilli Marlene

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 Lilli of the Lamplight,
My own Lilli Marlene

Orders came for sailing,
Somewhere over there
All confined to barracks
was more than I could bear
I knew you were waiting in the street
I heard your feet,
But could not meet,
My Lilly of the Lamplight,
my own Lilly Marlene

Resting in our billets,
Just behind the lines
Even tho' we're parted,
Your lips are close to mine
You wait where that lantern softly gleams,
Your sweet face seems
To haunt my dreams
My Lilly of the Lamplight,
My own Lilly Marlene

Italian version:

Tutte le sere
sotto quel fanal
presso la caserma
ti stavo ad aspettar.
Anche stasera aspetterò,
e tutto il mondo scorderò
|: con te Lili Marleen :|

O trombettier
stasera non suonar,
una volta ancora
la voglio salutar.
Addio piccina, dolce amor,
ti porterò per sempre in cor
|: con me Lili Marleen :|

Prendi una rosa
da tener sul cuor
legala col filo
dei tuoi capelli d'or.
Forse domani piangerai,
ma dopo tu sorriderai.
|: A chi Lili Marleen? :|

Quando nel fango
debbo camminar
sotto il mio bottino
mi sento vacillar.
Che cosa mai sarà di me?
Ma poi sorrido e penso a te
|: a te Lili Marleen :|

Se chiudo gli occhi
il viso tuo m'appar
come quella sera
nel cerchio del fanal.
Tutte le notti sogno allor
di ritornar, di riposar,
|: con te Lili Marleen :|

French version:

Devant la caserne
Quand le jour s'enfuit,
La vieille lanterne
Soudain s'allume et luit.
C'est dans ce coin là que le soir
On s'attendait remplis d'espoir
|: Tous deux, Lily Marlène. :|

Et dans la nuit sombre
Nos corps enlacés
Ne faisaient qu'une ombre
Lorsque je t'embrassais.
Nous échangions ingénûment
Joue contre joue bien des serments
|: Tous deux, Lily Marlène. :|

Le temps passe vite
Lorsque l'on est deux!
Hélas on se quitte
Voici le couvre-feu...
Te souviens-tu de nos regrets
Lorsqu'il fallait nous séparer?
|: Dis-moi, Lily Marlène? :|

La vieille lanterne
S'allume toujours
Devant la caserne
Lorsque finit le jour
Mais tout me paraît étrange
Aurais-je donc beaucoup changé?
|: Dis-moi, Lily Marlène. :|

Cette tendre histoire
De nos chers vingt ans
Chante en ma mémoire
Malgré les jours, les ans.
Il me semble entendre ton pas
Et je te serre entre mes bras
|: Lily...Lily Marlène :|

Russian version:

Перед казармой
У больших ворот
Фонарь во мраке светит,
Светит круглый год.
Словно свеча любви горя,
Стояли мы у фонаря
С тобой, Лили Марлен.

Обе наши тени
Слились тогда в одну,
Обнявшись мы застыли
У любви в плену.
Каждый прохожий знал про нас,
Что мы вдвоем в последний раз,
С тобой, Лили Марлен.

Часовой кричит мне:
Труба играет сбор!
Пойдешь на гауптвахту,
Кончай свой разговор!
Друг мой, прощай, auf Wiedersehen.
Ах, как хочу уйти я с ней,
С моей Лили Марлен.

Фонарь во мраке ночи
У ворот горит.
Твои шаги он знает,
А я уже забыт.
Сердце болит в краю чужом -
Вдруг ты с другим под фонарем,
Моя Лили Марлен.

В тесной землянке,
Укрывшись от огня,
О тебе мечтаю,
Милая моя.
Снова наступит тишина,
И к фонарю придет она
Ко мне, Лили Марлен.

Dutch version (Herre de Vos, 1940)

Onder de lantaren, bij de groote poort,
vrijen vele paren bij avond ongestoord.
Als ik van boord kom, ga 'k meteen
terstond naar die lantaren heen,
met jou Lili Marleen, met jou Lili Marleen!

Onder de lantaren, heel dicht bij elkaar...
dat verliefd wij waren, zag wel een ieder daar!
En elk die glimlacht - naar ik meen -
gaat hij langs die lantaren heen:
om ons Lili Marleen, om ons Lili Marleen!

Onder de lantaren, werd een sein gehoord,
dat kwam van de baren en riep mij weer aan boord!
Ik zei vaarwel en ging toen heen,
bij de lantaren stond alleen,
mijn schat Lili Marleen, mijn schat Lili Marleen!

Onder de lantaren, loop jij nu mijn kind...
Ik ben weer gaan varen en zwalk door weer en wind.
Soms is mijn hart zoo zwaar als steen
en dan gaan mijn gedachten heen
naar jou Lili Marleen, naar jou Lili Marleen!

Spanish version:

Al salir de España
Sola se quedó,
llorando mi marcha
La niña de mi amor.
Cuando partía el tren de allí
Le dijo así mi corazón:
Me voy pensando en ti,
Adiós, Lili Marlen.

Aunque la distancia
Vive entre los dos,
Yo siempre estoy cerca
De tu claro sol,
Pues cuando tu carta llega a mí,
Se alegra así mi corazón,
Que sólo pienso en ti,
Soñando con tu amor.

Cuando vuelva a España
Con mi División
Llenará de flores
Mi niña su balcón.
Yo seré entonces tan feliz
Que no sabré mas que decir:
Mi amor, Lili Marlen,
Mi amor es para ti.

Danish version:

På den stolte skude
fjernt fra hjemmets strand
står den tavse sømand
og længes hjem i land.
Tænker, mens skibet står mod nord,
på den, som i hans hjerte bor,
på sin Lili Marleen,
kun om Lili Marleen.

Det var på en knejpe
i Marseilles havn,
at han pluds'lig hørte
det nu så søde navn;
mændene talte kun om een
med ravnsort hår og slanke ben,
kun om Lili Marleen,
kun om Lili Marleen.

Det var kærlighed ved
første øjekast,
men i dag så står han
med hende last og brast;
for da han fried', fik han ja,
og han blev gift den næste da'
med sin Lili Marleen,
med sin Lili Marleen.

Og når fra det fjerne
Peter vender hjem,
er en grøn lanterne
det tegn, der viser frem.
Han ved, når rejsen, den er endt,
så står hun dér og venter spændt,
hans eg'n Lili Marleen,
hans eg'n Lili Marleen.

Hungarian version:

Csöndes az éjjel, sehol semmi fény
Õrszem áll a vártán, derék magyar legény
Nagy Muszkaföldrõl gondol rám
A sóhajtása száll hozzám
Szeretlek Márikám, szeretlek Márikám

Üzenetem néki míg csak leírom
Könnyeimtõl ázik a levélpapírom
Elküldöm mégis gyorspostán
Mert érzem, épp most gondol rám
Felsóhajt Márikám, felsóhajt Márikám

Kinn a Muszkaföldön tombol már a tél
Jancsikám szívébe a síró szél zenél
S õ egyre ott áll a vártán
Szerelmes szívvel csak vár rám
S azt súgja: Márikám, szeretlek Márikám

Amióta elment róla álmodom
Érte szenvedek és csak néki szól dalom
Elbúcsúzott ottan némán
Csak annyit mondott várj énrám
Én szívem, Márikám, én szívem, Márikám

Istenem teremtõm adj szívembe erõt
Ne kelljen már várnom, hozd vissza nékem õt
Add hogy ne sírjak én árván
Ki tárt karral és úgy vár rám
Úgy súgja: Márikám, szerelmem, Márikám

Finnish version:

Kasarmimme eessä suuri portti on,
Illan pimetessä jään lyhdyn valohon.
Menneessä jälleen kohdataan,
ja lyhdyn alla haastellaan,
|: kuin ennen Liisa pien´. :|

Huomas kaikki heti, meitä katsoessaan,
Et´ lempi yhteen veti, kun yks´ jäi varjo vaan.
Menneessä kaikki kyllä saan,
jos lyhdyn alla rakastaa,
|: Sun kanssas´ Liisa pien´. :|

Iltahuudon hetki liian pian sai, vois tulla kallis retki,
Siks´ nyt jo lähden ain.
Sulle nyt kuiskaan näkemiin,
vaik´ tahtoisin mä kaupunkiin,
|: Sun kanssas´ Liisa pien´. :|

Askeleesi siellä, kauniin käyntis myös,
ne tuntee lyhdyn siellä, mi´ jälleen loistaa yös´.
Jos en mä enää tavallain,
sen lyhdyn alla seisoain,
|: Sun kanssas´ Liisa pien´. :|

Kaikki sumuun häipyy, maa ja taivaskin,
Huulillasi säihkyy nimi rakkahin.
Luokses mä unelmissain saan,
taas lyhdyn alla kohdataan,
|: Kuin ennen Liisa pien´. :|

Polish version:

Światło mrok rozgarnia,
bo u koszar bram
Pali się latarnia,
którą dobrze znam.
Zobaczyć ciebie w wieczór ten
W jej blasku chcę
Lili Marleen,
Tak chcę, Lili Marleen.

Zbliżasz się i oto
wśród latarni lśnień,
Cienie dwa się splotą
w jeden wspólny cień.
Niech wszyscy ujrzą obraz ten,
Mój cień i twój,
Lili Marleen,
I twój, Lili Marleen.

Słyszę twoje kroki,
a złociste skry
Twarz twą rzeźbią w mroku,
ból sprawiają mi
Kto będzie z tobą w wieczór ten
I noc po świt,
Lili Marleen,
Po świt, Lili Marleen.

Lecz gdy w otchłań runę,
mocno wierzę że
Jeden pocałunek
twój ocali mnie,
Znów będziesz ze mną w wieczór ten
I noc po świt,
Lili Marleene,
Po świt, Lili Marleen.


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