Hej Slovani, naša reč / Hey, Slavs, our Slavic language
Slovanska živo klije / Lives on
Those are lyrics from the former Yugoslavia’s national anthem. The wording and language varies a bit between the different national groups that comprised “The Land of Southern Slavs.” Balkan experience is different from that on the northern plains. The mountains and the shadow of the Ottoman empire shaped things differently than our history did, with Germany to the west and Tsar/Stalin to the east.
Doris Dragović Željo Moja. I linked to a live performance at 1986 Eurovision because there is some vintage Euro stuff in the announcers’ prelude to this performance, including a shot of Norwegian reindeer-sledding. But you can look up the recorded version easily for a high-definition sound; it’s a pretty song. It is introduced in English and French as “Love is Fire” for some reason, but Željo Moja means “My Wish.” It’s interesting to compare languages. For example, the line before the chorus:
Croatian: “Tiho tiho, suzo, ne daj se”
Polish: “Cicho cicho, łzo, nie daj się”
English: “Hush hush, my tears, don’t give in”
1991 Yugoslavian Civil War. The wounded Serbian soldier in the footage below appears to have been conscripted and assigned to a unit that didn’t have much in the way of leadership. He was left behind by his platoon, interrogated here by a more professional-looking Croatian unit that found him:
Croat commander: “Don’t worry, we won’t kill you”
Serb: “Please don’t, brothers”
Croats [laughing]: “Brothers? we are not brothers”
Serbian and Croatian languages are nearly identical, though the former is written in Cyrillic and the latter in Roman alphabet. The enemy soldiers in the video communicate without difficulty. My fluency in Polish allows me to pick up many of the individual words but without the subtitles, I’d be almost, but not quite, able to understand what they are saying.
It seems nonsense to us now, to see Serbs and Croats at each others’ throats. We just don’t understand the Balkans of that period. It helps to envision things coming to a showdown right here. Compare their ethnic conflict to our incipient ideological one and think about the liberal down the street who’d have you fired from your job if he discovered that you comment on right wing blogs. In a hypothetical situation similar to the one in the video, we’d understand our prisoner’s English just fine and all the same, we’d laugh at his appeals to brotherhood.
I think a lot about this. I don’t want a civil war so I’ve tried to be patient with libs because our paths are not separate, we’re just having to wait out their hysteria. But neither reason nor compassion works. There is no communication. They want to go down, and take us with them.
“In the modern Europe there is no room for homogeneous national states. It was an idea from 1800s, and we are going to carry it [multiculturalism] through…and we are going to create multi-ethnic states.” — Gen. Wesley Clark
NATO’s bombing of Christian Serbs on behalf of Muslim gangsters woke me up to the malevolent nature of the American empire. There was a news story about U.S. bombers hitting a downtown bridge in Serbia and people scrambling to help the wounded civilians. Then the planes made another pass, this time killing the bystanders who ran to give first aid. A man was quoted grieving over his teenage daughter, who was among the people who rushed to help.
Amadeus Band’s Moja Zemlja (“My Country”) features a contemporary HD video of a Serb special ops team rescuing a hostage in a hero-villain story. Watching it will increase your testosterone. As a commenter here once put it:
One thing that I’ve noticed about the music scene among the Slavs, is that a lot of mainstream music takes on nationalistic, militaristic, masculine/patriarchal and anti-“globalist” themes, and isn’t relegated to the fringe like it is in the western world. Love and pride of culture, country and people is promoted rather than outright ignored or even intentionally trashed.
There was a tired quality to Warsaw Pact’s and Yugoslavian armed forces. Since then, and especially as a result of several countries’ joining NATO, it’s been a different story. As dramatized in the video, the armed forces of these countries have modernized and some of them have combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. And arguably, morale and personnel quality is higher in east-central Europe than elsewhere on the continent.
Bijelo Dugme Te Noci Kad Umrem (“The Night I Die”). The great Bosnian band — I blogged about them a while back. The song is about different women’s reactions to the news of the speaker’s death. The guitarist (wearing a white shirt) in this 1987 fan-participation live performance, Goran Bregović, is now regarded in Europe as the Balkan folk-pop musician.
Divlje Jagode Krivo Je More (“The Sea is Wrong”) is a contemporary performance some years after the power ballad’s original release. Also from Bosnia. Something I find cool in Yugoslavian languages is the words that have an “r” but without any nearby vowel. They are spoken in a trochaic consonant burst. Examples: srce (heart), krv (blood), mrvica (crumb), or crni (black). Their equivalents in Polish are more pronounceable: serce, krew, mrówka, czarny.
Ti, ti si ga upoznala / You, you met him
jedne ljetne večeri / one summer evening
On, on te poljubio / He, he kissed you
dok more se pjenilo / while the sea was foaming
I ti si se zaljubila / And you fell in love
mada nisi htjela to / though you didn’t want to
Krivo je more / The sea is wrong
Znaj, ljeto je varljivo / You know, summer is deceptive
a srce ti zavodljivo / and your heart was seduced
Kući kad si došla ti / When you came home
znala si da si u zabludi / you knew you were lost
A to veče uz mora šum / But that evening by the roaring sea
Od sreće sva si blistala / you blissfully glowed
Krivo je more / The sea is wrong
Yugoslavian National Anthem, (1943 – 1992). Its opening line is at the top of the post. The melody is based on “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego,” which has been the national anthem of Poland since 1926, but the Yugoslav variation is at slower tempo. The video shows propaganda images from pre-civil war Yugoslavia, along with English subtitles.
“We are not brothers.”
— Croat soldiers laughing at a wounded Serb POW
Is that still true?
Laibach. Their pan-Slavic interpretation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia anthem in English, from their 2006 “Volk” album: