Originally a popular song from World War I, 'La Madelon' was composed in 1914 by Camille Robert with lyrics by Louis Bousquet, and describes soldiers flirting with a young waitress. The song was so popular that it was translated into Spanish and into English by Alfred Bryan as 'Madelon, I'll be true to the whole regiment'.
The song was revived by the German-American singer Marlene Dietrich in 1939 to mark the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution on 14 July. The song also became popular to commemorate the end of World War I on 11 November each year. The French continued to celebrate this day throughout the war despite it being forbidden by the Germans. In 1940, 5,000 Parisian students gathered at the Arc de Triomphe. Three years later, a group of Maquis resistance fighters repeated the spectacle near Geneva in honour of those who had been killed in the struggle against the Nazis. Specific Resistance lyrics were also written as acts of defiance. Over two dozen versions were collected by musician Paul Arma following the Liberation, and are stored in his archives.