"Lili Marlene"

Based on a German poem of 1915, this song became a favorite of both German and American troops during the Second World War, both in English and in the original German.

A curious example of song transcending the hatreds of war, American troops particularly liked Lili Marlene as sung by the German-born actress and singer, Marlene Dietrich.

The lyrics:

Marlene Dietrich did a variation on the lyrics, probably to endear the song to the troops of the day:

Marlene Dietrich

Maria Magdalene Dietrich was born on December 27, 1901, the second child of Lieutenant Louis Erich Otto Dietrich and Wilhelmina Elisabeth Josephine Felsing.

In 1935, Adolf Hitler demanded that the famous German actress return to the Fatherland.  Dietrich, an ardent anti-Nazi, refused, resulting in all her films being banned from Germany.  Dietrich became a naturalized United States citizen and devoted most of her energy during World War II to entertaining Allied troops.

Her major claim to fame during World War II was her work with the USO.  There is no doubt that she made a major contribution to the morale of the troops.  During the Africa & Italy campaigns, she withstood much privation in order to stay with the troops at the front, where she not only entertained but helped coordinate hospital and mess details.  In the French & German campaigns, she often rode with Patton at the front.

Her vehement denouncement of the Nazi regime, and her participation in radio broadcasts aimed at Germany, got the desired result - she got under the skin of the Nazis.  For her work, the U.S., French and (eventually) Israeli governments awarded her medals.

Click here to listen to a portion of "Lili Marlene" as sung by Marlene Dietrich

Click here to listen to the full song as sung by Marlene Dietrich

Return to Collecting History