Norbert Schultze, the well-known German composer, died on October 14th, 2002 in Bad Tolz, at the age of 91. He was, for many years, President of the GEMA, the German society for the protection of performing rights for composers, arrangers, authors and publishers. He composed, among many other works, the world-famous wartime song Lili Marleen in 1938. The original text of Lili Marleen, shown here, bears little resemblence to either the German song or the well-known British version. The German lyric here is a plea for sanity in the turmoil of World War One. See translation below
Am 14. Oktober 2002 ist der bekannte Komponist Norbert Schultze, unter anderem Schöpfer des weltbekannten Liedes "Lili Marleen", der Märchenopern "Schwarzer Peter" und "Das kalte Herz", des Musicals "Käpt'n Bay-Bay" mit dem Evergreen "Nimm mich mit, Kapitän, auf die Reise" und unzähliger Film- und Fernsehmusiken, im Alter von 91 Jahren an seinem letzten Wohnsitz in Bad Tölz verstorben. Die Trauerfeier für Norbert Schultze fand am Montag, 21.10.2002, am Münchner Nordfriedhof statt.
Vor dem großen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht heute noch davor!
Steht da und kann es nicht verstehn,
Was wieder mal bei uns geschehn -
Wie einst Lili Marleen -
Wie einst Lili Marleen!
Geht es noch um Ehre
Oder nur um Macht?
Was hat uns mit einmal
Um den Verstand gebracht?
Wie wir's auch wenden,
Wie wir's auch drehn -
Wir werden vor dem Richter stehn
Lili Marleen -
Dereinst, Lili Marleen!
Wer birgt die Toten
Verweht im Wüstensand?
Wer zählt die Opfer
Am ölverseuchten Strand?
Sag, wieviel Leid muss noch geschehn,
Bis wir den Wahn, den Irrsinn sehn?
O Gott, Lili Marleen!
O Gott, Lili Marleen!
Aus dem stillen Räume -
aus der Erde Grund
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein todesbleicher Mund!
Eh sich die späten Nebel drehn,
Lass Krieg und Hass zu Ende gehen -Noch heut, Lili Marleen!
Norbert Schultze, 1938
Nun aber haben die
späten Nebel das Abendsonnenlicht dieses überaus erfüllten
Lebens eingeholt. - Die GEMA, der Deutsche Komponisten-Verband und wir
alle nehmen nun Abschied von dir, Norbert.
Photos and text: GEMA Nachrichten, Berlin
Klaus Doldinger plays at the funeral
Surely the favourite song of soldiers during World War II, Lili Marleen became the unofficial anthem of the foot soldiers of both forces in the war.
Original German lyrics from a poem The Song of a Young Sentry by World War I German soldier, Hans Leip *22.9.1893 in Hamburg, 6.6.1983 in Fruthwilen, near Frauenfeld (Thurgau), Switzerland who wrote these verses before going to the Russian front in 1915, combining the name of his girlfriend, Lili (the daughter of a grocer), with that of a friend's girlfriend or by a wave given to Leip, while he was on sentry duty, by a young nurse named "Marleen" as she disappeared into the evening fog.
His poem was later published in a collection of his poetry in 1937.
The poems caught the attention of Norbert Schultze (born 1911 in Braunschweig, died 14.10.2002), who set this poem to music in 1938.
Schulze was already rich and famous before the success of The Girl under the Lantern, who awaited her lover by the barrack gate. His operas, film scores, marches and tunes for politically inspired lyrics were successful. In 1945 the Allies told Schultze to forget about composing but he got back to it in 1948.
The tune had a rocky road. The propaganda secretary of the Nationalist-Socialist party, Joseph Goebbels didn't like the song, he wanted a march. Lale Andersen didn't want to sing it and the DJ who was supposed to get it on the charts also gave it two thumbs down.
Recorded just before the war by Lale Andersen (Eulalia Bunnenberg), the song sold just 700 copies, until German Forces Radio began broadcasting it to the Afrika Korps in 1941.
The song was immediately banned in Germany, for its portentous character, which did nothing to slow its spread in popularity.
After the German occupation of Yugoslavia, a radio station was established in Belgrade and beamed news, and all the propaganda fit to air, to the Africa Corps. Lieutenant Karl-Heinz Reintgen, the director of Radio Belgrade had a friend in the Africa Corps who had liked the tune. He aired Lale Anderson's version for the first time on 18. August 1941. General Feldmarschall Rommel liked the song and asked Radio Belgrade to incorporate the song into their broadcasts, which they did. The song soon became the signature tune of the broadcast and was played at 9:55 pm, just before sign-off.
After the song was broadcast there was no holding it back. The Allies listened to it and Lili Marleen became the favourite tune of soldiers on both sides, regardless of language.
The immense popularity of the German version spawned a hurried English version, supposedly when a British song publisher named J.J. Phillips reprimanded a group of British soldiers for singing the verses - in German. One irate soldier shouted back : "why don't you write us some English words?". Phillips and a British songwriter Tommie Connor soon had an English version in 1944. Anne Sheldon's English hit record started the song's popularity with the Allied countries. Vera Lynn sang it over the BBC to the Allied troops. The British Eighth Army adopted the song.
It was sung in military hospitals and blasted over huge speakers, along with propaganda nuggets, across the frontlines, in both directions.
Marlene Dietrich featured The Girl under the Lantern in public appearances, on radio and "three long years in North-Africa, Sicily, Italy, in Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, in England," as she later recalled.
An RCA US recording, by an anonymous chorus in June, made it to No. 13 in 1944. It hit the US charts again in 1968, the German charts again in 1981 and the Japanese charts in 1986.
The song is said to have been translated into more than 48 languages, including French, Russian and Italian and Hebrew. Tito in Yuogoslavia greatly enjoyed the song.
Lili Marlene is easily the most popular war song ever. Its theme of dreaming for one's lover is universal. Why is the song so popular? The last word goes to Lale Anderson : "Can the wind explain why it became a storm?"
Verbatim translation of the original text, shown above, of Lili Marleen
Translated for Jazz Professional by Ron Simmonds