March on the Drina

“March on the Drina” is a Serb patriotic song composed by Stanislav Binicki during World War One after the Battle of Cer. This composition was adopted by the Nazi-collaborate Yugoslav Royalist Army   popularly known as Chetniks during the Second War War. It was played during attacks on Bosniak towns in Eastern Bosnia during the genocide from 1941-1945. During the Communist rule in Yugoslavia, The March on the Drina was banned since it glorified Serb Nationalism and genocide. A film with the same title produced in 1963 was also banned.  In the nineties, during bloody campaigns carried out by Serb armies in the Balkans, this composition was re-introduced especially during the attacks on Bosnian towns bordering Serbia along the Drina River – Zvornik, Bijelina, Visegrad, Foca  and so on.

English translation of the composition:

To battle, go forth you heroes,

Go on and don’t regret living your lives

May the Cer see the front, may the Cer hear the guns

and the river Drina’s glory, courage!

And the heroic hand of the father and sons!

Sing, sing, Drina – of cold water,

Remember, and tell of the ones that fell,

Remember the brave front,

Which full of fire, mighty force

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 was freedom!

Laibach, a Slovenian industrial band was one of the rare foreign bands to perform in Sarajevo during the siege. At the National Theatre in Sarajevo in November 1995, they performed their interpretation of “March on the River Drina” – a dark, mysterious and horrific interpretation.

“”NATO”, the album by Laibach, also features a song called “Mars on River Drina” (read: The War God Mars on the River Drina, read: March on the River Drina), – a Serbian military march from the First World War. Even fanatical professionals and artists such as Laibach hesitated to play this piece at the concert in Sarajevo. Believing that Laibach would play it, I waited in anticipation for the reaction of the audience in the literally packed auditorium of the National Theater. The beating of three drums slowly transformed into what we, or at least most of us, otherwise feel about this composition: pure horror. Sarajevo is perhaps the last city in the world in which “March on the River Drina” should have been performed, but Laibach played it in the only way possible, and they succeeded.”

Srdan Vuletic DANI, No. 38, December 1995 (http://www.laibach.nsk.si/react1.htm)

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