The Legendary, Lovely Marlene

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Dietrich's War

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Medals awarded to Marlene Dietrich.
top, left to right : Ordre pour le Merite (France) , Ordre Nationale de la Legion d'Honneur : Commandeur (France) , Operation Entertainment Medal (United States) , Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) , Medallion of Honor of the State of Israel. Bottom, left to right : Ordre Nationale de la Legion d'Honneur : (France) , Medal of Freedom (United States) , Fashion Foundation of America award , Chevalier de l'Ordre de Leopold (Belgium) , Operation Entertainment Medal (U.S. Armed forces).

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Below is a photograph of one of Marlene's wartime uniforms (centre) which is housed in the Imperial War Museum North, Salford Quays, Gtr. Manchester U.K.
Special thanks to IWM for permission to take and show photograph.
© John Mills

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'Good will alone is not enough,' the general had said. If you lose your nerve, if you break down, then this goodwill only harms me. But if you can swing it - then bravo. It'll do the soldiers good to know that you're at the front. They'll tell themselves the situation can't be so bad if Marlene Dietrich's there. If we were all going to be mowed down here, the old man certainly wouldn't expose her to such danger. 'False reasoning,' he added. 'But you must reduce the tension; they need that.' 

'You can only imagine what all this meant to those guys fighting. Listen: can you imagine being at a military camp in Tallhassee, Florida, somewhere waiting to be shipped out and getting to see this gal? Or being over there, preparing to fight some guy you don't even know who is trying to get you, but there you are waiting to do this and Marlene Dietrich arrives, someone that you've seen on the screen, someone you've been a fan of, and here you are watching her in person? I would think that would be overwhelming.'

'She went pretty far out there, really close to the actual front lines. She went to places...listen, as a matter of fact, I would think the War Department and the studios were certainly worried about where she was, because she went to places where it was...I mean really dangerous. I mean, my God, she almost got caught in the Battle of the Bulge. There was even one newspaper article that said she was captured.'

'Again that incredible, completely intuitive weather vane of Dietrich's pointed her in the direction that would eventually prolong her visual fame by thirty years.'

Below, soldiers recall Marlene during the war.

'Yes I do recall her visit to the front to entertain us. We all loved her and respected her. She was the only USO entertainer who came up, within enemy artillery range, to put on a show.'
'We all enjoyed the songs of Marlene Dietrich that we heard during the war, especially our favorite ''Lili Marlene''. We heard her songs over the Allied radio network and also occasionally over the German stations. I was a Communications Sargeant, so I always had radios in my halftrack.'
John Glascock, Communications Sargeant. 

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Courtesy John Glascock

'I was fortunate to see Marlene in Germany around the 20th of March 1945. I was always impressed with her arrival during the middle of combat. At the time we had just broken through the German West Wall (Siegfried Line) and were pursuing the Germans. Combat lines had not been established and in fact we were not sure where the German Army was at the time. It took a lot of guts on her part and the part of her troupe to perform so close to ''enemy'' lines that were not even established at the time.' Fred Clinton, 63rd Infantry Division.

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Courtesy 63rd Infantry Division Association

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Courtesy 63rd Infantry Division Association

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Courtesy 63rd Infantry Division Association

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Marlene with 63rd Band members. Courtesy 63rd Infantry Division Association

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Marlene entertaining 63rd Infantry Division Troops, Germany 1945. Courtesy 63rd Infantry Division.

'Throughout the years I have heard various comments made of her during her visit, but alas those memories have long disappeared along with many of those who were able to meet her. At my age of four score and ten and more than sixty years since those happenings, true and honest remembrances are difficult for most of us that remain'. Bob Searl 56th Signal Battalion.

'My father, George Weber, was operating the switchboard in a truck somewhere in Belgium before the Bulge when Marlene Dietrich surprised he and Lee Lucas with a visit into the truck. He is sitting next to me relating this story. He believes the USO brought her in. The pictures you have were taken by Stars and Stripes. He thinks there were others taken. My father was not that taken aback. He was surprised, but was so busy he couldn't focus on the visit. She asked if he was going to do this kind of work for a living. It was only a few questions and some small talk. Just light chatter. She posed for some pictures and that was it. Unfortunately, Dad is 93 years old and he cannot recall all the details'.
JoAnn Weber Dervay.

George Weber mentioned above and pictured below has just been presented with the Legion d'Honneur medal. (''to honour individuals of merit who have aided France''.) Nov.2007.

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Bob Searl's WWII photo Album of Memories-56th Signal Battalion Dec. 1944 G.Weber to left of Marlene.

The five photographs below also appear courtesy Bob Searl.

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PFC Clayton Oliver, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Marlene; T/5 Theodore Kulkieski, Chicago, Illinois.

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PFC Roland Sparks, Yonkers, New York; Marlene; Pfc George Weber, Bronx, New York.

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Marlene, Lt.Col. Ernest Smith, Battalion Commander.

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T/5 Ernest Mitchell, Abbeville, South Carolina; Marlene.

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Nov. 1944 Nancy, France MD at the TUSA Officer's Mess. Photo by Raymond Getz.

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Unknown Officer, Marlene Dietrich with LT. Winthrop A. Jackson Jr. at a USO event. © Alan Case

Marlene Dietrich on USO tour with the Coast Guards 1944 at Narsarssuak, Greenland. L-R LT F. A. Shelton, LTJG H. C. White, LT L. C. Salsbury, ENS G. I. Kellogg, Marlene Deitrich, LTJG W. M. Braswell, CDR V. O. Johnson, CPO A. B. Wilchar. Photo courtesy of W. M. Braswell.

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Marlene Dietrich on USO Tour 1944 with US Coastguards

USO Tour March 1945 Marlene and Lynn Mayberry using a M3A4 Utility Hand Cart to move their personal clothing. Mourmelon, France. 101st & 17th Airborne Divisions.
  © Johan Willaert

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'At ease' © Johan Willaert

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17th Airborne Division Sgt. goes along for the ride. © Johan Willaert

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The three photographs below appear with kind permission from Rich Heller.

www.warfoto.com

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Marlene Dietrich with Bobby Seesock 3rd Signal Co Photographer

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Marlene showing her loyalty to the 3rd Division-1945

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Marlene showing off her gams, while the MC fields the reaction

One morning I stood at the main entrance and welcomed the troop. To my delight the headline was the one and only Marlene Dietrich! She arrived in a rush, she returned daily for an entire week, she remained and left in a rush. It was her style.

First order of business was a show, presented to the patients who were able to gather in the huge cafeteria/dining hall. Marlene sang, did magic tricks and told raunchy jokes. She was clad in a translucent, shimmering blue gown, slit to reveal those million dollar legs; speaking of nice legs, I was and remain a "leg man.". Before she turned the show over to her supporting musicians and entertainers, she hiked up her dress and paraded across the stage. Then she started tossing autographed blue garters to the audience. There was pandemonium, bedlam. Wheel chairs collided; crutches and canes became weapons as the men fought to capture a prize. The authorities had to stop the show to keep from adding to the casualty list. Marlene then began a relentless, seven day, dawn to dusk tour of the entire hospital. She visited every room except the quarantine ward. She sang, she joked, she gave autographs, she flirted; she ran from bed to bed and room to room. I struggled to keep up with her. She never stopped. She lived on cigarettes, coffee and martinis worked 16-hour days every day, and was a hell of a trooper.
At one time she met up with Rita Hayworth's kid brother. He was wounded and distraught because he couldn't get a message home to tell his family that he was recovering. La Dietrich marched into the hospital commander's office, commandeered a phone and put through a call from Naples to Hollywood. She was able to link mother and son, transoceanic.

She was middle aged, she was a mother, in fact she was a grandmother, but unlike any grandmother that I had ever met. She was kind, caring and fun to be with. She autographed a picture for me and even signed a cartoon-like drawing that my girlfriend then, later my wife of many years, had sent me. Unfortunately the cartoon disappeared from the letter I sent to Jane. I always suspected some dishonest censor. I even tried to trace it but to no avail.

Finally the week was up and Marlene and company moved on. It was a tearful good-bye. Few entertainers matched the Blue Angel with her husky voice, her glamour, and her genuine dedication to the troops. When she finally left I had to go back to bed for two days to recover from the pace of trying to keep up with her.

You can be certain that I became and remain an avid fan, loyal to memory of Marlene Dietrich-the lady who laughed at Hitler, refused his command appearance order and poured body and soul into the WW II effort.

Russel Weiskircher L, K, Hqs Co, 3rd Bn, 157th Inf.

01-11-2005 (Dr. Russel R. Weiskircher, Ph.D., DST, Brigadier General, AUS-Retired).

Extract above taken from 45th Infantry Division website (see 'Links' page)

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Courtesy 45th Infantry Division

Marlene knocking out a tune on her musical saw.

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The picture below of the B24 bomber appears courtesy of Daniel L. Stockton of ''B-24 Best Web''.

www.b24bestweb.com

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Below, Marlene (with Linda Darnell) Moffett Field nr. Palo Alto, 1942

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Below, radio branch of the bureau of public relations war dept. munitions building. May1942.

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Marlene makes a broadcast at BBC Ottringham.

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The photograph below appears courtesy of Paul Cohen.
Paul's Father David Cohen is pictured 2nd to the left of Marlene (looking through the open window). David Cohen was in The Postal Service in the war, he died in 1974.
© Paul Cohen

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Lili Marleen
Outside the barracks by the corner light
I'll always stand and wait for you at night
We will create a world for two
I'll wait for you the whole night through
For you, Lili Marleen
For you, Lili Marleen
Bugler tonight, don't play the Call To Arms
I want another evening with her charms
Then we will say goodbye and part
I'll always keep you in my heart
With me, Lili Marleen
With me, Lili Marleen
Give me a rose to show how much you care
Tied to the stem, a lock of golden hair
Surely tomorrow you'll feel blue
But then will come a love that's new
For you, Lili Marleen
For you, Lili Marleen
When we are marching in the mud and cold
And when my pack seems more than I can hold
My love for you renews my might
I'm warm again, my pack is light
It's you, Lili Marleen
It's you, Lili Marleen
My love for you renews my might
I'm warm again, my pack is light
It's you, Lili Marleen
It's you, Lili Marleen
(©Hans Leip)

Where have all the flowers gone

Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone,
Young girls picked them every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the young girls gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young girls gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young girls gone,
gone to young men every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the young men gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young men gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young men gone,
gone to soldiers every one,
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Gone to flowers every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn 
 
© Pete Seeger

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Dietrich appearing here, in the flesh

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The photograph below appears courtesy of Israel ''Irving'' Liss (right of MD) Collection.

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101st Airborne

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Marlene signing autographs

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82nd Airborne Division Landing

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Marlene autographing the cast of Earl E. McFarland at US hospital in Belgium 24/11/944

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Marlene greets the Brits. Rome 1944

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Berlin's Olympic Stadium, 1945

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''hello boys''

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Italy1944 ©Cyril F.Hopper

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Italy1944 ©Cyril F.Hopper

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Italy1944 ©Cyril F.Hopper

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Italy 1944

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Italy 1944

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France 1944

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Marlene with General George Patton in France

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© George Silk

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© George Silk

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© George Silk

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© George Silk

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© George Silk

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© George Silk

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with Danny Thomas

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© Ralph Morse 1945

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© Nat Farbman

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with Irving Berlin in Italy

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Checking out the gams

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MD with Jean Gabin in Paris 1945

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© George Silk

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© George Silk

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with Maria at the El Morocco Club NY July 1945

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with Maria July 1945

All images are copyright protected and may not be copied or reproduced without prior permission.

marlenedietrich.org.uk