Monday, May 28, 2012

Lilli Marleen

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


In World War II, every country had it's song that more than any other "spoke" the mood. For most countries, that song was not Lilli Marlene.

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.


But throughout the countries involved in the European war, on both sides, in many languages, Lilli Marlene was at the very least a close runner-up, and by being so widespread surely qualifies as the leading song of that war.

The version that first pushed Lili Marleen to fame was by Lale Anderson, who was born in Bremerhaven, Germany, in the Lehe district.

In 1971, while with Det B, 42d MP Gp (Customs) at the US Army installation in Bremerhaven-Weddewarden, I had an apartment in Bremerhaven-Lehe, on Artilleriestraße, named for the artillery barracks or Kaserne that was across from my kitchen window. I looked down into its courtyard. Lale presumably grew up knowing that same barracks as "the Kaserne," and its gate may have been what she pictured as she sang "vor dem großen tor."

I wish I had known that when I listened to Marlene Dietrich singing Lili Marlen in my tiny mansard apartment.

I certainly thought of the song when I looked at that gate.

Lili Marleen An Allen Fronten has 184 historical recordings of different versions on 7 CDs. I wish I could get that out of the Library. Maybe my kids will get it for me for Father's Day? Nah.

Today is Memorial Day, and I think of my father's friends who died in that war, my friends who died in Vietnam, family and friends who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost friends there. Of everyone who has lost family and friends in any war.

I watch our flag dance in the breeze.



1 comment:

Katie Douglas said...

I really like your blog. (: