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WWII & Music

Updated on May 12, 2017
"Music Inspires," 1941–1945.
"Music Inspires," 1941–1945.

Could A Song Affect A Battle?

Sometimes I wonder how music and war could be connected. They are two quite different things… There are songs that are connected to some wars though. Maybe isn’t only music that can do this… As I’m thinking about it I cannot find any other art.

Music is direct… Soldiers could sing a song as they were fighting or resting. So through them some songs got connected to a war… The most known war-songs were born or became famous in WWII. This totally makes sense. In the period of the WWII, technology had already done a big progress. Many soldiers used to listen to the radio so it was easier to embrace and love those songs. Till now, some of them are still popular.

I recently heard a story about a song and how it encouraged the soldiers who were going to the front in WWII. Perhaps it isn’t the only one. So I am wondering… is there any chance that a song could affect a battle? It might have done it, I answered to myself…

Let's talk about four war-songs which were written by different countries...

Bella Ciao

In this topic a song will be always come first in our mind… Bella Ciao! Today it is used worldwide as a hymn of freedom and resistance. The most interesting thing about this song is that you don’t have to be a leftist to like it… I am saying this because it was sung by the anti-fascist resistance movement active in Italy between 1943 and 1945. Its original composer is unknown so is the author of the lyrics. The lyrics are based on a folk song sung by rice-weeders on the River Po basin in the early part of the 20th century – "Alla mattina appena alzata" though.

Many artists have sung it or even published it! Like Manu Chao and Goran Bregovic. I think this doesn’t make them leftists… So this is quite interesting. Mentionable is that no one have ever changed its lyrics. It has been translated for more than 30 languages.


Katyusha is a Russian song composed in 1938 by Matvei Blanter. The lyrics were written by Mikhail Isakovsky. The song became known in July 1941 when it was sung by a Russian industrial school in Moscow to bid farewell to Russian soldiers going on the battle front against Nazi Germany. The song depicts a girl who’s named Katyusha (diminutive of Cathrine in Russian). This girl is longing for her absent love. The main theme of the song is that the soldier will protect and fight for the people’s Motherland as his girl will preserve their love.

Who knows? The song could empower them to win a battle. As they were fighting, they might have been thinking about their “Katyushas”. The strength of these songs didn’t trap into their countries… For instance, this song has been sung from other soldiers as well. Italian partisans took its melody and wrote new lyrics. The song is called Fischia il vento. Greek partisans also took its melody and wrote new lyrics. This song became very known in Greece. In 1981 it was released in an album. Same thing happened in 2015…

Lili Marleen

Lili Marleen must be next! And this song is really unique! It was sung by both Axis and Allied troops. In 1915 was written as a poem and in 1937 was published as a song. This song is a love song though. This makes me think how the Allied could use this song? It is a German song after all. Music -as it seems- helps us overcome those fetters.

Lale Andersen is the original singer though. And her performance leads us towards to Germany. As I noticed the main theme of the war-songs is the war itself. However Lili Marleen speaks exclusively about love. If you noticed all these songs speak about love as well. And this makes me sad. I am thinking about the soldiers… They were completely lonely and this explains why all these songs have the same theme… what else? Love.

Lili Marleen is probably the most known song during the WWII!

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy was a well-known among the USA soldiers song. This is not the only American song that helped them to be pushed in the war! There are actually lots of American songs which were released in wartime of WWII to inspire the soldiers.

These songs are quite different from the Europeans songs. First of all they differ in style and this is very logical. The biggest difference between American and European songs is that the latter were chosen (or even written) by the people. The first ones were given by the state so that their soldiers could have inspiration and daring during the war.

This is the main reason that these songs aren’t that famous nowadays in USA. On the other hand in Europe they keep being used in people’s celebrations. The European songs also focused on people’s fight and sacrifices. The American songs focused on the nation’s pride or glory more than its people. And it’s totally understood. The American citizens surely were worrying about the soldiers but in the end of the day the war was taking place far from their homeland. The citizens of Europe lived 100% the war. Of course, we are not in their position. We can't know how they felt or what they thought!

"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in 60s, that's his problem.  Love and Peace are Eternal..."
"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in 60s, that's his problem. Love and Peace are Eternal..."

No More Wars

I’ll Be Home for Christmas is one of the American songs that were famous during the war. And it’s one of these which had been kept using in Vietnam’s war by American soldiers.

Anyway, the topic is quite sad. It reminds me that many people died or suffered during the war. All they needed was peace and love and we can see it through the songs…

So let's try to seek for love in every period not only in the wartime. But, as it's known, humans appreciate something when it's gone...


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