Words by Hans Leip, a German soldier on his way to the east front during WW I. It's a poem to both of his girlfriends as he couldn't choose between them: Lili, his sweetheart at home, daughter of a Berlin business man, and nurse Marlene, his sweetheart at war. During his vigil at night those first three lines came in a flow: 'Vor der Kaserne, vor dem grossen Tor, unter den Lanterne'. But he waited twenty years before giving it the finishing touch. First published in 1937 in the poem collection Die Kleine Hafenorgel (The Little Harbor Organ). Lale Andersen, singer in night clubs and literary cabarets in Munich and Berlin, loved the poem and cut an unsuccessful Urfassung with music composed by a friend (Rudolf Zink). Then she found out composer Norbert Schultze (prominent nazi propagandist) had done a better job with ten Hans Leip poems, Lili Marleen being one of them. Lale Andersen has always denied sympathy for national socialism.
Lale Andersen [as Lili Marleen with the enduring Norbert Schultze melody; her Decca recording from '48 was used in tv-series The Singing Detective]
Lou Bandy [idem]
Suzy Solidor [idem; post-war victim of repression for singing it for an audience of German officers in her cabaret]
New Mayfair Dance Orch. [as Marlene]
Anne Shelton [as Lilli Marlene]
Hildegarde [as Lili Marlene]
Marlène Dietrich [idem]
Leo den Hop [as Morgen Een Kater]
Hanna Schygulla [as Lale Andersen in R.W. Fassbinder's film version]
Madder Rose [all as Lili Marleen]
War hit on both sides of the line, adopted by both armies. Soldatensender Belgrad, the nazi propaganda short-wave station spanning the whole of western Europe and North Africa, had Lale Andersen's song on the playlist since 1941. Rommel's Africa korps picked Lili Marleen up as their musical mascotte, but so did the English. Following excessive requests, Radio Belgrad programmed the song dayly in a fixed time scedule (9:55 pm). That's when Lili Marleen became a phenomenon. English translation: Tommie Connor.