Saturday, 6 June 2020


Hans Leip
June, 6 1944. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.

The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front. On the Eastern Front, Russian victories against German troops were essential to the final success of Operation Neptune. The Normandy landings were the landing operations and associated airborne operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II.

The Grandma wants to commemorate June, 6 1944, an important date to remember. Europe started to say goodbye to the fascism and nazism and the WWII began to finish. But June, 6 is also the anniversary of Hans Leip's death, the German poet and writer who wrote one of the most controversial songs of the history, Lili Marleen, a German love song which became popular during WWII throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops.

The Grandma has been talking with The Watsons about Hans Leip and his famous poem Das Mädchen unter der Laterne as an example of a song that has crossed borders and has becoming an hymn for everyone.

More information: BBC

Hans Leip (22 September 1893-6 June 1983), was a German novelist, poet and playwright, best remembered as the lyricist of Lili Marleen.

Leip was the son of a former sailor and harbour-worker at the port of Hamburg. He was educated there and in 1914 became a teacher in the Hamburg suburb of Rothenburgsort. In 1915 he was called up by the German army and after training in Berlin served on the Eastern front and in the Carpathians. After being wounded in 1917 he was discharged on medical grounds.

He first had ambitions as an artist, but then turned to writing, although he illustrated his books himself. In the 1920s he travelled extensively, to Paris, London, Algiers and New York City, among other places.

His breakthrough as a novelist was with the success of Godekes Knecht, which was awarded the prize of the Kölnische Zeitung newspaper. His novels sold well in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War II, while he also wrote plays, short stories, poems, dramas and was also a painter and sculptor.

Hans Leip
Leip wrote the words while serving in the army during World War I. The poem was originally titled Das Mädchen unter der Laterne. He reportedly combined the nickname of his girlfriend with that of a nurse.

The poem was later published as Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht in 1937, now with the two last of five verses added by Leip. It was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938. Tommie Connor later wrote English lyrics. It was recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939 and subsequently, in many translations, became a worldwide hit.

Lili Marleen, also spelled Lili Marlen, Lilli Marlene, Lily Marlene, Lili Marlène among others; is a German love song which became popular during World War II throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops. Written in 1915 as a poem, the song was published in 1937 and was first recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939 as Das Mädchen unter der Laterne.

In 2005, Bear Family Records released a 7-CD set Lili Marleen an allen Fronten, including nearly 200 versions of Lili Marleen with a 180-page booklet.

The words were written in 1915 as a poem of three verses by Hans Leip (1893–1983), a school teacher from Hamburg who had been conscripted into the Imperial German Army. Leip reportedly combined the nickname of his friend's girlfriend, Lili, with the name of another friend, Marleen, who was a nurse. The poem was later published in 1937 as Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht, with two further verses added.

It was set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938 and recorded by Lale Andersen for the first time in 1939. In early 1942 she recorded the song in English, the lyrics translated by Norman Baillie-Stewart, a turncoat former British army officer working for German propaganda.

More information: BBC I & II

Songwriter Tommie Connor also wrote English lyrics with the title Lily of the Lamplight in 1944. Another English translation was done by Dr. Theodore Stephanides during World War II and published in his memoir Climax in Crete in 1946.

After the occupation of Belgrade in 1941, Radio Belgrade became the German forces' radio station under the name of Soldatensender Belgrad, with transmissions heard throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.

While on leave in Vienna, a lieutenant working at the station was asked to collect a pile of second-hand records from the Reich radio station. Among them was Lili Marleen sung by Lale Andersen, which up till then had sold around 700 copies.

Hans Leip
Karl-Heinz Reintgen, the German officer in charge of the station, began playing the song on the air. 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 letters from Axis soldiers all over Europe asking them to play Lili Marleen again.

Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps, admired the song and asked Radio Belgrade to incorporate it into their broadcasts. Goebbels reluctantly changed his mind, and from then on the tune was used to sign-off the broadcast at 9:55 p.m. The song was published in South Africa, in a wartime leaflet, with an anonymous English translation, as Lili Marleen: The Theme Song of the Eighth Army and the 6th Armoured Division.

Lale Andersen was awarded a gold disc for over one million sales (HMV - EG 6993). It is thought she was awarded her copy after hostilities ended. HMV's copy was discarded during renovations to their Oxford Street store in the 1960s, but the disc was recovered and is now in a private collection.

Many Allied soldiers made a point of listening to the song at the end of the day. For example, in his memoir Eastern Approaches, Fitzroy Maclean describes the song's effect in the spring of 1942 during the Western Desert Campaign: Husky, sensuous, nostalgic, sugar-sweet, her voice seemed to reach out to you, as she lingered over the catchy tune, the sickly sentimental words. Belgrade... The continent of Europe seemed a long way away. I wondered when I would see it again and what it would be like by the time we got there."

More information: DW

The next year, parachuted into the Yugoslav guerrilla war, Maclean wrote: Sometimes at night, before going to sleep, we would turn on our receiving set and listen to Radio Belgrade. For months now, the flower of the Afrika Korps had been languishing behind the barbed wire of Allied prison camps. But still, punctually at ten o'clock, came Lale Andersen singing their special song, with the same unvarying, heart-rending sweetness that we knew so well from the desert. [...] Belgrade was still remote. But, now [...] it had become our ultimate goal, which Lili Marlene and her nostalgic little tune seemed somehow to symbolise."

In the autumn of 1944, the liberation of Belgrade seemed not far away. Then, at ten o'clock, loud and clear, Radio Belgrade; Lili Marlene, sweet, insidious, melancholy. 'Not much longer now,' we would say, as we switched it off. As the Red Army was advancing on Belgrade, he reflected again on the song.

Marlene Dietrich sings Lili Marleen
At Valjevo, as at so many other places [...] we would tune our wireless sets in the evening to Radio Belgrade, and night after night, always at the same time, would come, throbbing lingeringly over the ether, the cheap, sugary and almost painfully nostalgic melody, the sex-laden, intimate, heart-rending accents of Lili Marlene. 'Not gone yet,' we would say to each other. 'I wonder if we'll find her when we get there.' Then one evening at the accustomed time there was silence. 'Gone away,' we said."

Allied soldiers in Italy later adapted the tune to their own lyrics, creating the D-Day Dodgers song. A cartoon by Bill Mauldin in the American army newspaper Stars and Stripes shows two soldiers in a foxhole, one playing a harmonica, while the other comments, The krauts ain't following ya too good on 'Lili Marlene' tonight, Joe. Think somethin' happened to their tenor?

In 1944, the Morale Operations Branch of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) initiated the Muzak Project, musical propaganda broadcasts designed to demoralize enemy soldiers. Marlene Dietrich, the only performer who was told her recordings would be for OSS use, recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including Lili Marleen.

Marlene Dietrich also performed Lili Marlene, as well as many other songs, live in Europe for Allied troops, often on rickety, makeshift stages.

More information: The Economist

Lili Marlene became a massive success, specifically on the German language OSS MO radio station Soldatensender, where it became the station's theme song.

After its warm reception by the troops in Europe, the song was re-recorded and released, with the spelling Lili Marlene after her name, Marlene, with Charles Magnante on the accordion, citing him as the orchestra director for both it and the single's B-side, Symphonie, sung in French. The single was released by Decca Records in 1945. The original OSS recording of Lili Marleen remains unissued.

In 1961, Marlene Dietrich starred in the film Judgment at Nuremberg, a dramatization of the war trials. In one scene she walks down a rubbled street, ravaged by Allied attacks, with Spencer Tracy's character. As they approach a bar they hear men inside singing Lili Marleen in German. Dietrich begins to sing along with the song, translating a few lyrics for Tracy, referring to the German lyrics as much sadder than the English.

Marlene Dietrich sang Lili Marlene in her television special An Evening with Marlene Dietrich, which aired on the BBC in the UK and on CBS in the US in 1973, and was featured on four of her six original albums. She also recorded and performed it in both the original German version and the English adaptation. Both versions have appeared on countless compilation albums worldwide, several of them titled after the song.

More information: The Telegraph

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

Hans Leip

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