The True Story of Lili Marlene

Tuesday, 30 March 2021  |  Admin

 In 1939 a young Swedish singer, Lale Andersen, recorded Lili Marlene, a sentimental love song, and when it was played to the Afrika Corps via Radio Belgrade, which had the most powerful short wave transmitter available to the German Army, it became a big hit with the lonely soldiers in the deserts of North Africa.

But when this ballad began to be adopted as a battle song by both opposing armies, Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for the Third Reich, used his knowledge of her Jewish sympathies to silence Lale Andersen, and had her taken to a concentration camp. The song's fame grew and it was also recorded by Vera Lynn, Anne Shelton and Marlene Dietrich.

When the BBC heard of this cowardly injustice, they broadcast a cutting parody of the song, ridiculing Hitler, sung by Lucie Mannheim (murdered agent in "The 39 Steps"), and eventually Andersen was freed. She later suffered one further indignity - appearing in the Eurovision song contest! The film is introduced and narrated by Marius Goring and was directed by Humphrey Jennings.

Also features Before The Raid re-telling how a British task force freed a Norwegian fishing village which was being pillaged by Nazi soldiers. The reconstruction of this raid was filmed by Czech director Jiri Weiss in the fishing village of Portmahomack, Easter Ross.

The True Story of Lili Marlene is now available on DVD.