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"Lili Marleen" (a.k.a. "Lili Marlene", "Lily Marlene", "Lili Marlène" etc.) is a German love song which became popular during World War II.
Written in 1915 during World War I, the poem was published under the title "Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht" (German for "The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch") in 1937, and was first recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939 under the title "Das Mädchen unter der Laterne" ("The Girl under the Lantern").
Following Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia, from 1941 Radio Belgrade became Soldatensender Belgrad to entertain German armed forces; the song was played frequently and became popular throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops.
Its popularity quickly grew. Soldiers stationed around the Mediterranean, including both German Afrika Korps and British Eighth Army troops, regularly tuned in to hear it. Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps, admired the song and asked Radio Belgrade to incorporate it into their broadcasts, which they did.
Many Allied soldiers made a point of listening to it 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."
Straycat requested this song, and here it is in English, French and its original German.
In the dark of evening
where you stand and wait
Hangs a lantern gleaming
by the barrack gate.
We’ll meet again by lantern shine
as we did once upon a time
We two Lili Marlene
We two Lili Marlene
Et dans la nuit sombre
Nos corps enlaces
Ne faisaient qu'une ombre
Lorsque je t'embrassais
Nous echangions ingenument
Joue contre joue bien des serments
Aus dem stillen Raume,
Aus der Erde Grund,
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein verliebter Mund.
Wenn sich die späten Nebel dreh'n,
Werd' ich bei der Laterne steh'n
Wie einst, Lili Marleen!