In the days of the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of Sarajevo siege, Goran Bregovic, born in Sarajevo, wrote a song as a present to Boris Tadic, who was also born in this city. The song is a compilation of March to the Drina and the Ode to Joy. Bregovic attempted to mask the best known Serbian war song with Beethoven’s symphony, to unite what cannot be united – a Serbian war song and the hymn of united Europe, founded on antifascism and pacifism. Same as Boris Tadic, who is masking his politics with European integrations, Bregovic also deemed it logical to give our president a March to the Ode of Joy.
The present Goran Bregovic gave to the president comes on the day he generously resigned and announced he is running for the next elections, once again for the president office. It appears that Bregovic’s terrible lack of taste, which has been spreading throughout the region and the globe for decades, has been met with exhilaration in the cabinet of the outgoing president, and it seems it will really be chosen as the soundtrack of Boris Tadic`s campaign.
March to the Drina dates back to World War I, and was later appropriated and abused by chetniks, fascists and hooligans of all types, who have been overpopulating Serbia during the last century. In year 1992, on Milosevic’s referendum on new state symbols, citizens voted for March to the Drina to become the new national anthem of Serbia, in the hysterical atmosphere of wars for greater Serbia. However, March to the Drina did not become the national anthem, but is widely perceived in the public as one of ‘the most patriotic songs’. Today, we can hear this song at almost all football games in Serbia and Republic of Srpska; sung by the hooligans; at Ravna Gora (a highland where celebrations of the chetnik movement take place, tr.); at Guca trumpet festival on the chetnik-stage; at the gatherings of the Serbian Radical Party, and ultra-nationalist organizations Obraz , National Alignment and Dveri . It can also be heard on a large amount of archive footage from the war in Bosnia – ‘Serbian state on the other side of the Drina river’ – this song comes as a backdrop for scenes of ethnic cleansing and genocide, committed by the Bosnian Serb forces and the members of Milosevic’s paramilitary and police forces.
The Democratic Party probably thinks it is rather becoming and ‘authentically Serbian’ to mix March to the Drina, genocide, the Republic of Srpska, Ode of Joy and the European Union. The transfer of vexation and shame some of us feel after such ugly jokes, which have been an integral part of the culture of this society for a very long time (if it can be called culture at all), once again end at the same place – in our silent rooms. And somewhere outside, at the meetings of the biggest pro-European party, trumpet players are performing The Heroes Played, Who is saying, who is lying that small is Serbia and March to the Drina. As I write these words, a group of soccer fans is, passing by the Croatian embassy in Knez Milos street, yelling an incomprehensible song through a loudspeaker. All I am able to discern is ‘… against ustashas…’. Citizens of Belgrade avert their eyes, in fear of those groups of boys, who were still in diapers, if they had been born at all, in the time of our wars against ‘ustashas and balijas’.
We can thank Slobodan Milosevic, Ivica Dacic, Vojislav Seselj and Tomislav Nikolic for giving birth and raising these children of ours. We can thank Vojislav Kostunica and the Serbian Orthodox Church for showing them the right path, straight into our everyday life; and we can thank Boris Tadic for encouraging them to grow, steadily and bravely, for the Serbian cause. March to the Drina, Kalashnikov and other ‘patriotic’ songs and iconography should be ostracized as symbols of war crimes, and should make us all ashamed, not morbidly proud.
To battle, go forth you heroes,
Go on and don’t regret your lives
Let the Cer see the front, let the Cer hear the guns
and the river Drina’s glory, courage!
And the heroic hand of the father and sons!
Sing, sing, cold water of the Drina,
Remember, and tell of the ones whom fell,
Remember the brave front, full of fire and mighty force
Whom expelled the invaders from our dear river!
Sing, sing, Drina, tell the generations,
How we bravely fought,
The front sang, the battle was fought
Near cold water
Blood was flowing,
Blood was streaming by the Drina… for Freedom!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly one, your sanctuary!
Your magic reunites
What custom strictly divided.
All men become brothers,
Where your gentle wing rests.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic