Lily Marleen

The text used in the German version of this song was written by the German soldier Hans Leip. Before he left for the Russian front in 1915, he wrote a poem called "Das Lied eines jongen Soldaten auf der Wacht". In that poem a young soldier thinks about his girlfriend Lily Marleen (Lily was the name of Leips girlfriend) who was always waiting for him under a lantern. As the text progresses, the young soldier has left the kazern and moved to the battlefield. There he asks himself whether Lily Marleen is still waiting for him under that lantern. In the last verse Lily's loving words make the soldier rise from the earth to the lantern where he ever met her. Nobody knows whether the soldier rose from the trench or his soal from the grave ...

Norbert Schultze wrote music to the poem and Lale Anderson made a record of it. For a long period the song was laying under the dust, till in 
1941 a German Corporal, who made radio programs for the troops in Africa, thought this could be a song for the soldiers at war. And he was right: even the Australians who heard the song from the camp of their opponent, in the beleagered Tobruk, called loudely to increase the volume on the radio.
At this point the BBC decided to make an English version of the song, written by Tommy Connor and sang by Anne Shelton. Also the text was cleaned up a bit: in the German version, it was about a soldiers girl waiting at the kazern for her soldier and there was an uncertain ending, in the English version it was about a civilized girl and the sinister end of the original was made easier to digest.

During the whole wartime, the song was very popular to both sides of the front. It is officialy known that Goebbels thought that Lily Marleen was an unpatriotic song. He hated it because he thought that the morbide character of it was not in line with the nationalsocialistic character of the German man/soldier. Goebbels called the song a corpse of a tearjerker. 
The song was even played during executions of civilians in the Eastern Areas.
Lili Marleen - Original version

Bei der Kaserne vor dem grossen Tor
Stand eine Laterne, und stebt noch davor,
Da wolln wir uns da wiedersehn
Bei der Laterne wolln wir stehn,
Wie einst Lili Marleen, wie einst Lili Marleen.

Unsre beide Schatten sahn wie einer aus.
Dass wir lieb uns hatten, das sah man gleich daraus
Und alle Leute solln es sehn,
Wenn wir bei der Laterne stehn,
Wie einst Lili Marleen, wie einst Lili Marleen.

Schon rief der Posten: Sie blasen Zapfenstreich
Es kann drei Tage kosten! Kam'rad, ich komm ja gleich.
Da sagten wir auf Wiedersehn.
Wie gerne wollt ich mit dir gehn,
Mit dir Lili Marleen, mit dir Lili Marleen.

Deine Schritte kennt sie, deinen schonen Gang
Alle Abend brennt sie, doch mich vergass sie lang
Und sollte mir ein Leids geschehn,
Wer wird bei der Laterne stehn,
Mit dir Lili Marleen, mit dir Lili Marleen?

Aus dem tiefen Raume, aus der Erde Grund
Hebt mich wie im Traume dein verliebter Mund.
Wenn sich die spaeten Nebel drehn,
Werd' ich bei der Laterne stehn
Mit dir Lili Marleen, mit dir Lili Marleen
Lili Marlene English version

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 allways be
My Lili of the lamplight, my ownLili 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 Lili of the lamplight, my own lily Marlene

Orders came for sailing somewhere over there
All confined to barracks 't was more than I could bear
I knew you were waiting in the street
I heard your feet, but could not meet
My Lili of the lamplight, my own Lily Marlene

Resting in our billet just behind the line
Even though we're parted your lips are close to mine
You wait where that lantern softly gleamed
Your sweet face seems to haunt my dreams
My Lili of the lamplight, my own Lili Marlene

My Lili of the lamplight
My own Lili Marlene.
Back to previous page