Ludwig von Gress
We are trying to keep some balance here, for, after all, Fog of Chaos is not like that infamous Australian Labor Party propaganda channel, masquerading as Australian Broadcasting Commission. Following the Soviet, Eastern Front song Katjusha [see and hear here] I present a song from the west. Lili Marleen was sang and listened to on the both sides of the Western front during the World War II. It was written by a school teacher during the previous war to end all the wars as “Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht” (“The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch”), recorded in 1937 as “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” and gained popularity in 1941 when Soldatensender Belgrad, lacking music records, had to play it frequently. Apparently, at one stage the Nazi government’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, ordered broadcasting of the song to stop. One has to admit the lyrics are not in the politically correct, national socialist style. Yet the complaints from Axis soldiers all over Europe made Goebbels to change his mind. One can hardly imagine today’s Australian equivalent, comrade Stephen Conroy to take any notice of the public opinion.
Later in the war, in 1944, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) came up with the idea of musical propaganda broadcasts designed to demoralise enemy soldiers. Marlene Dietrich, recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including Lili Marleen.
My first ever knowledge of the song was when as a young boy I heard that a certain lower echelon communist party official, after a drunken spree, was aprehended by the police in Prague for singing it in public. The meistersinger of Wenceslau Square was punished by expulsion from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Undoubtedly, if he is still alive, he proudly claims his dissident status.