Lili Marlene

Music piece by:
Hans Leip
Testimony by:
Renato Alvarado Vidal
Experience in:

During the daily flag-lowering ritual in the camp Melinka, the prisoners first had to get into formation in the courtyard and then walk in line to the location of the mast.

This manoeuvre was carried out while singing to the beat, then they would get into formation again and sing the National Anthem while the national banner was being lowered to spend the night in safety.

One day I was looking after a mother with her little son in the infirmary when the ceremony began.

I was just giving the mother the last treatment instructions when I heard the column marching.

To get to their destination, the marchers had to go past the infirmary shed, mere centimetres from where I was. The column was coming nearer and singing 'Lili Marlene'.

I asked the mother to wait for a moment and be quiet.

I lowered my head, closed my eyes and listened, just listened, to these steps approaching, becoming louder, shaking the ground, going past me, and as they marched away, they left their singing floating in the air, where the loyal Lili Marlene was waiting for me under the light of a single streetlamp outside the barracks gates.


Published on: 26 April 2020

Right next to the barracks
by the main gate
there stood a streetlamp
and it stands there still
We're going to meet there again
Under the streetlamp we will be
Like before, Lili Marlene.

Our two shadows
appeared as one
We loved each other so
it gave that impression
And all the people will see it,
when we are under the streetlamp
Like before, Lili Marlene.

Soon the sentry called out,
“They’re passing an inspection
this will cost you three days”
Comrade, I’m on my way
So we said our goodbyes
How I would have loved to go with you
With you, Lili Marlene.

She knew the sound of your steps
your elegant way of walking
every evening she was burning
although now I had forgotten
And if something happens
Who will stand under the streetlamp
with you? Lili Marlene.

From the silent space
From the lands of the Earth
Your adorable lips
keep me as if in a dream
When the mist of night swirls all around
I will be by the streetlamp
Like before, Lili Marlene.