(K. Brent Tomer),
ON the outbreak of the first world war, Sir Edward Grey, Britain’s foreign secretary, stated that “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” When Europe was thrown once again into the darkness of conflict, the association of lamp light with peace was taken up by a German voice. “Lili Marlene”—originally written as a poem and set to music years later—came to rule the European airwaves between 1941 and 1945. Marlene Dietrich, one of the song’s most notable performers, said she sang it through Africa, Sicily, Italy, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, England, France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia during the war. Its popularity is not merely a testament to its brilliant words and melody; it speaks to a shared longing for peace.
In 1915 Hans Leip, a German fighter, penned “Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht” (“The Song of a Young Soldier on Watch”), a poem in which the soldier declares that he will be reunited with his lover once again. He is summoned to the barracks and laments the forced separation, risking reprimand for a few more seconds with his love. Throughout,…Continue reading