Lili Marleen and a Two Sided War

I couldn’t quite tell you what this Axis-Allied Second World War song meant to me throughout my childhood. While it might seem to the unlearned ear that this is some German propaganda song, it’s actually far from that. It was a tune that inspired and brought hope to both sides of the war, and was actually banned by German propaganda minister Goebbels on Radio Belgrade until popular appeal brought it back. As Allied and Axis troops both marched through Europe, Lili Marleen reminded them of the women they left behind and gave them hope for the future. It’s about a girl waiting under a lantern for her lover to return from war, and is deeply touching.

Lale Andersen

The song was originally recorded by German singer Lale Andersen under the title, “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne,” which is based off of the first World War poem Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht. She recorded the song after she met Norbert Schultz, who had composed the music for the tune.

The link I have provided you with shows a much peppier, war-time, gun-ho version that was recorded after Goebbels banned it from the radio. The original tune was much sadder and slower, along the lines of a ballad. Goebbels allowed it back onto the propaganda-sodden radio so long as it promoted war support rather than lament.

Lale Andersen attempted suicide, but failed. She was allowed to perform again after the song Lili Marleen was brought back to the radio, but she could not perform Lili Marleen, despite its soaring popularity.

Belgrade Map
Because of its popularity, Lili Marleen was played at the end of each Radio Belgrade broadcast. The German-controlled Serbia had Allied forces close enough to hear its radio, and Lili Marleen became a song that was popular on both sides of the front. Both Allied and Axis troops reminisced about their sweethearts. Let me take an excerpt from Wikipedia on the matter:

Many Allied soldiers made a point of listening to it at the end of the day. For example, in his memoir Eastern Approaches, Fitzroy Maclean describes the song’s effect in the spring of 1942 during the Western Desert Campaign: “Husky, sensuous, nostalgic, sugar-sweet, her voice seemed to reach out to you, as she lingered over the catchy tune, the sickly sentimental words. Belgrade…The continent of Europe seemed a long way away. I wondered when I would see it again and what it would be like by the time we got there.”

Lili Marleen

The next year, parachuted into the Yugoslav guerrilla war, Maclean wrote: “Sometimes at night, before going to sleep, we would turn on our receiving set and listen to Radio Belgrade. For months now, the flower of the Afrika Korps had been languishing behind the barbed wire of Allied prison camps. But still, punctually at ten o’clock, came Lale Andersen singing their special song, with the same unvarying, heart-rending sweetness that we knew so well from the desert. […] Belgrade was still remote. But, now that we ourselves were in Yugoslavia, it had acquired a new significance for us. It had become our ultimate goal, which Lili Marlene and her nostalgic little tune seemed somehow to symbolise. ‘When we get to Belgrade…’ we would say. And then we would switch off the wireless a little guiltily, for the Partisans, we knew, were shocked at the strange pleasure we got from listening to the singing of the German woman who was queening it in their capital.”[4]

Marlene Dietrich

So now you know how much of an impact this song had on Europe, though you may never have heard it before in your life. Perhaps it rang through the corners of your history classroom, or perhaps you turned it off when you heard it come on some weird Pandora station. The song was also recorded by Marlene Dietrich as a way of demoralising enemy soldiers. A film and music icon and an avid anti-Nazi immigrant to the United States, Marlene Dietrich helped to popularise the song back in the States.

I’ve included a verse from the song to help you understand the nature of the translation.

Deine Schritte kennt sie,                    It knows your footsteps,
Deinen zieren Gang.                    Your beautiful walk.
Alle Abend brennt sie,                    It burns every evening,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang.                    Although it forgot me long ago.
Und sollte mir ein Leid gescheh’n,                    And if a mishap should befall me,
Wer wird bei der Laterne steh’n,                    Who will stand by the lamppost,
Mit dir, Lili Marleen!                    With you, Lili Marleen?

-A.
Photos Courtesy of:

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William Bishop Ford

A common form of art in the 16th-19th century was portrait miniatures. Women would keep them of their husbands who were in the army or away and men would carry ones to remind them of their families. Another popular use was to celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

Because of the enormous sentimental value and personal attachment to portrait miniatures I was determined to find myself one. Even though I cannot express how much I adore these tiny masterpieces, I was a bit nervous about acquiring one. For the same reasons I love them (their personal value), I also feel that it is difficult to possess something that meant so much to someone.

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It took me about a year to find the perfect one, but eventually I did. The one I found was of three whippets. Perfect, I thought, because animals have a very close connection with their owners, but it is not like I am carrying someone’s husband around on my collar.

(this one’s mine!! =D)

When I first purchased my portrait miniature, I was unaware of who had painted it or how old it was. The back on it had been replaced at some point in time (probably very early 20th century), and was sealed. Being too afraid to remove the backing, for fear of damaging the piece, I decided to research it solely on its technique, medium, and subject.

I was genuinely shocked when I found who I was definite is the artist. I never expected to be able to come up with a definite answer, but there is no doubt about it…my miniature was painted by William Bishop Ford.

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Ford was a British artist who lived between the years of 1832 and 1922. He was a specialist painter of miniature enamels. He apprenticed under William Essex (who perfected the technique of reverse essex glass painting, which is how mine if done). His subjects included many animals as well as people, and the framing used is unmistakable.

This piece has become one of my most prized possessions. I feel such a personal connection to it and am proud to wear it frequently.

-C

Photo Credits:

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery & my collection

The Diamond Jubilee

As many of you probably already know, Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year!

When she was only 26, Elizabeth was crowned queen. At birth, she had been third in line of secession and it was extremely doubtful that she would ever gain this position. As chance would have it, however, on February 6, 1952 Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne and one year later (On June 2) she was crowned.

Today kicked off the celebrations with a visit to the Epsom Derby. Surprisingly, the Queen has attended all races here since here coronation in 1952. She even attended one only four days after she was crowned!

The Queen records an annual Christmas Broadcast at Buckingham Palace ©PA

In addition to this, numerous celebrations throughout the weekend will celebrate this rare event. On Monday, the BBC will host a concert at Buckingham Palace. On Tuesday all of the celebrations will result in the largest event yet – a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London and two following luncheons…not to mention all of the smaller celebrations taking place all around the world.

It is so exciting to be able to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event and an honor to take part in celebrating it.

-C

Source for information and pictures:

http://www.thediamondjubilee.org/

5 Stunning Gothic Cathedrals

Cathedral of Santa Maria, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Palma de Mallorca Catedral de Santa María
This sandstone Cathedral is both the pinnacle of Majorcan architecture and an orchestra demonstrating the glory of religious handiwork. It appears like a fortress on the hillside, absolutely glowing with Spanish sun. It was built on the foundations of a Moorish mezquita (mosque) and sports massive external buttresses. The support system’s elegance and practicality lend historians to believe that Catalan master mason Berenguer de Montagut (known to have worked on the Catedral de Manresa and at Santa María del Mar in Barcelona) was summoned for this island cathedral’s construction.

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral, England

This Cathedral, built ca. 1337-60, was presumably built by the royal master mason Thomas of Canterbury. It was formally a Benedictine abbey church and the Benedictines residing there were interested in keeping as much of the original building as possible. The master mason used lattice work with vertical and horizontal lines to satisfy the abbey’s wishes, and is, in fact, a continuation of the Decorative style. However, what makes the Gloucester Cathedral special out of Decorative Gothic architecture, is that the motifs were entirely standardised. This style was continued well throughout the 14th century in England because of the architectural possibilities.

Marienkirche LübeckMarienkirche, Lübeck, Germany

Unlike other parts of Europe, the Gothic architecture of Northern Europe, including the Germanic regions, is often structurally more simple, yet colossal. The Marienkirche is no exception. It has bright turquoise towers, menacing in their almost minimalist lack of decoration. The spires are incredibly steep, and the entire floorplan of the building is surprisingly wide. A gorgeous Cathedral with much gold plating, the interior is spectacular, yet without ostentatious architectural decoration.

Milan CathedralMilan Cathedral, Italy

As we all know (pfft!), Milan was the seat of the Lombardi rulers during the Gothic architectural period, and as connoisseurs of the arts, the Lombardis funded the building of gorgeous structures such as the Milan Cathedral. It was built in the late 14th century, around 1387, and sports a double aisle structure that allows for a wider floorplan and the aesthetic depth of multiple rows of columns. There were severe issues in building this Cathedral because of the dimensions and weight distribution necessary for it to be as tall as it was wide. While it was completed in construction in 1572, the final additions of decorations were added in the 19th century. While you can’t see it well from the pictures I provide, I urge you to look at the windows of this structure, especially along the choir and transept. They have organic, Elven-esque patterns that are stunning, even in photographs.

Albi Cathedral

Albi Cathedral, France

Formally known as the Cathedral of Ste.-Cécile, this gorgeous Cathedral (shown above) was built in 1287, and it doesn’t look like much but a large sandy block from the outside. But when you walk inside, one notices the immense amount of handiwork, not to mention architectural splendor of this magnificent construction. While it appears much like a keep from the outside, almost bulky and clumsy, the interior has vast, breathtaking painting and gold lining.

If you’re interested in any of these Gothic pieces, I urge you to go visit them yourself! Of course, not all of us can enjoy this luxury, so consider investing in the book Gothic, by Könemann, for an in-depth look into Gothic architecture, sculpture, and painting. Almost all of the structural information I’ve noted here has been from this book, and it contains breathtaking photographs that cannot be found on the internet.

-A.

 

Photos Courtesy of:

Quirky Victorian Etiquette

First off, my technological problems are solved!! Yippie! Not having a computer for a few days really made me realize how dependant I am on it (even though I like to think I scarcely use it). As always, this thought led me back to thinking about the “olden days” before computers and cell-phones, which led me to thinking once more about one of my favorite topics – Victorian Etiquette (yay for trains of thought!).

Victorian Etiquette has become a modern fixation through movies and books. We are quite familiar with it, but there are also many quirky rules that have captured my attention. Today I’m going to share some of those with you. (Some of these are from the Edwardian Era too…)

Do not beat “the devil’s tattoo” by drumming with your fingers on a table; it cannot fail to annoy everyone within hearing, and it is an index of a vacant mind. (Hill)

As the [married] couple pass out of the front door it is customary for the guests to throw after them, for luck, rice, rose leaves, flowers, old shows, ect. (Green)

A bride does not usually dance at her own wedding, but she may join in a square dance I she chooses (Hall)

It is evident, therefore, that although a man may be ugly, there is no necessity for his being shocking. (Gentlemen)

If you have any defect, so shocking and so ridiculous as to procure you a nickname, then indeed there is but one remedy – to renounce society. (Gentlemen)

No lady worthy any gentleman’s regard will say “no” twice to a suit which she intends ultimately to receive with favor. (Young)

It lies with drivers to keep clear of pedestrians. All persons have a right to walk on the highways at their own pace. Dogs, chickens, and other domestic animals at large on the highway are not pedestrians, and if one is driving at a regulation speed, or under, one is not responsible for their untimely end. (Levitt)

Be careful not to be over-nice, or you will impress people with the idea that your life began in vulgarity, and you are now trying so hard to get away from it, that you rush to the opposite extreme. (Gentleman 2)

Some people prefer children to dogs, principally because a license is not required for the former (Graham)

The skin should be cut off [a banana] with a knife, peeling from the top down, while holding in the hand. Small pieces should be cut or broken off, and taken in the fingers, or they may be cut up and eaten with a fork. (Green)

-C

Bibliography:

Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society by Charles William Day (1843)

A Dictionary of Etiquette by Walter Cox Green (1904)

Social Customs by Florence Howe Hall (1887)

Laws of Etiquette, or Short Rules and Reflections For Conduct in Society by a Gentleman (1836)

Our Deportment by John H. Young (1882)

The Woman and the Car by Dorothy Levitt (1909)

The Perfect Gentleman by A Gentleman (1860)

The Bolster Book by Harry Graham (1910)

A Dictionary of Etiquette by Walter Cox Green (1904)

Photo Credits:

http://mistercrew.com/blog/2010/09/29/victorian-era-style-1872/

http://abedofroses.com/tag/bb-etiquette/

http://www.victoriana.com/bridal/prints/bridalprints.htm

http://www.victoriana.com/Mens-Clothing/mens-clothing-1868.html

http://cottageinthemaking.blogspot.com/2008/11/victorian-childrens-etiquette.html