Fassbinder had the joy of courage to just dare to do something in his films. If you don’t have the guts, you cannot progress. Fassbinder had it.
Giancarlo Giannini (who played in “Lili Marleen” the leading character Robert Mendelsohn)

Fassbinder’s “Lili Marleen” is not about Nazi Germany destroying the popular German singer as it destroyed many people and many lands (although it includes this motif). And it’s not a film about a courageous fight with the monstrosity of the Third Reich by heroic people participated in cleaning the world from Nazism of pre- and WWII periods (although it includes this motif as well). And, of course, Fassbinder’s film is not about a super-pure and super-strong love between Jewish underground fighter Robert Mendelsohn and a German young woman Willie/Lili Marleen, which triumphed against the Nazi power and its destructiveness (although this motif in a way is also present in the film). By reducing Fassbinder’s film into a Hollywood clichés we would be reducing the inevitable controversies of life and the multifaceted ambiguity of life’s perception by the millions of various people (which Fassbinder’s camera is capable of detecting with unique exactitude) – into a Steven Spielberg’s propagandist and entertaining inspirations (which reduce meaning to sentimental banalities and simultaneously exaggerate them in standardized way. Life is not one giant stone that looks the same from various angles.

Fassbinder poly-microscopic vision in “Lili Marleen” is about the similarity of Nazi state’s manipulation of personal love for the purpose of psychologically dominating the young minds and hearts, and of the non-Nazi – more, the anti-Nazi organization’s manipulation of private love with similar intentionality and results. When totalitarian state was trying to destroy love between Robert Mendelsohn and Willie-Lili Marleen it‘s of no surprise to anyone. But it’s a similar type of destruction when an anti-Nazi organization (presided over by Robert’s father David Mendelsohn) uses against freedom of love between Robert and Willie-Lili) – pressure and manipulation. After the war ended Lili’s heart is still with Robert, and his with hers, but his life and career are manipulatively organized by his family in a way that he finds himself trapped into a marriage according to ethnic marriage conventions. Love of two human beings is crushed with indifference and contempt. Some no doubt will say – what is one love in the middle of a war that swallowed millions of human lives? But don’t wars begin with the political neutralization and weakening of the importance of human love – the very nucleus of human life?

It’s the tragic similarity between the Nazi totalitarian state and anti-Nazi heroic organization in relation to human private love – between family patriarchy or peer-group authoritarianism on the one hand and despotic federal elite of decision-makers on the other, is the real topic of Fassbinder’s film.

The essence of Nazism is not only located in the semantic knots of Nazi ideology of world domination (our country first!) and racial superiority (German exceptionalism), but in the Nazis’ psychological posture vis-à-vis the world and their own population, a behavior which is accepted on a much wider land.

In “Lili Marleen” Fassbinder shows that it’s not too difficult to transform especially the young people into carriers of hate and destruction – just devaluate their ability to love – rip them away from whom they love and teach them obedience to their leaders, idols, power, wealth, weapons, careers, hate and domination, and how to forget about loving other people.

Posted on July/25/2017 –   Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Lili Marleen” (1981) – The Young People and Nazism: Private Love Archetype and Socio-political and Family Structures Manipulating and Even Parasitizing on It by Acting-Out Politics