The Soldiers’ Song

"Neues Europa"



By Mike Walsh

Lili Marlene, the soldiers’ song, crossed the trenches and won the hearts of both Allied and Axis servicemen during World War Two. The ballad’s wistful lyrics were composed in 1918 by Hans Leip (1893~1983). The 25-year old was a German infantryman during The Great War.

hans-leipHans Leip

The ballad started life as a poignant poem. It was inspired by the infantryman’s desire to record the angst of barracks life and a soldier’s pain of his being separated from his loved one. The poem’s words were penned shortly before Leip and his comrades left for the Russian front. Lili Marlene is not a single young lady but two. Lili, daughter of a local greengrocer, was Hans Leip’s sweetheart. Marlene, a comrade’s girlfriend, was a nurse.

Lili Marlene was first published in 1937 in a collection of poetry under the title “The Song of a Young…

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