Between the Lines: "Lili Marlene," Sexuality, and the Desert War

TitleBetween the Lines: "Lili Marlene," Sexuality, and the Desert War
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBaade, Christina
EditorFast, Susan, and Kip Pegley
Book TitleMusic, Politics, and Violence
Pagination83–103
PublisherWesleyan University Press
CityMiddletown, CT
Abstract

"Lili Marlene" was "the most bewitching, haunting, sentimental song of the war" in the words of the British Captain C. F. Milner, who was stationed in North Africa during the Second World War. Although now closely associated with Marlene Dietrich, the song first became popular with Axis and Allied forces during the Desert War of 1941 and 1942. A nearly legendary level of mutual respect and the sparsely populated desert allowed what the German General Erwin Rommel famously labeled, "Krieg ohne Hass" ("war without hate"). Radio, with its ability to disseminate propaganda and to support troop morale, played a key role in the conflict. First broadcast by the Nazi-controlled Radio Belgrade and later by the British Broadcasting Corporation (bbc), "Lili Marlene" crossed and re-crossed the lines of combat, ultimately becoming the marching song of the British Eighth Army and, according to the 1944 collection of G.I. Songs, nearly "the song of this war." When the Allies finally triumphed in North Africa, the song was one of their "trophies," according to Humphrey Jennings's 1944 Ministry of Information film, The True Story of Lili Marlene.

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785870508

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