Naša Vojska

Cover of a CD with Slovene Partisan songs

[audio:nasa vojska.mp3]
Listen to “Naša Vojska” (Our Army)

As we are about to start a week-long celebration of resistance against the occupator (April 27), followed by May Day (May 1) and finally by Liberation Day (May 9), I thought I’d post some fact on the issue:

We’ll skip May Day and start with

April 27 – Day of the Resistance against the ocupator

This date was previously known as Day of the Liberation Front, but the drive to rewrite history after the dissolution of socialism scraped this little piece of history as well and the holiday way renamed to what it is now. On this date we remember the formation of Liberation Front (of Slovene Nation), at first a rather heterogenus group which in 1941 realised that active resitance is the only possible answer to German and Italian occupation. A post dealing specifically with this issue will be posted soon 😀

May 9 – Liberation day

Historical wit would have it that Ljubljana was liberated on the very day in 1945 when Nazi Germany (what was left of it) surrendered unconditionally to Allied Powers. Slovene Partisan Forces (elements of 29th division and 7th Corps) were advancing on the city for several days and have entered it only after taking out an artilliery lair on Castle hill.

Saddly, May 9 is not a national holiday (much less a work-free day). I fail to see why we do not celebrate the victorious end of a struggle that was meant to erradicate Slovenes. Shouldn’t we be proud of that? And if that’s not good enough for us, we might at least celebrate – peace. I mean, this country is full of observances of every fucking gun going off in every war that was fought in this area, but we are unable to pay tribute to guns falling silent. And this is not my idea… It occured to my late grandfather, who was taken to contentration camp during the war. He saw the horrors and didn’t want them repeated ever again.


But to end on a lighter note: You’ve probably already listened to the above audio file. It is (in my humble opinon) one of the most beautiful, upbeat Partisan songs, which were used to boost morale among the people and the Partisans themselves. And although these songs emerged late into the war, when Slovene Partisans were a force to be reckoned with, they remain faithful testaments of the spirit and brotherhood of people who fought for a free and better future.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

19 thoughts on “Naša Vojska”

  1. Can we sing these songs as we’re marching round Ljubljana? I know “Jutri gremo v napad!” and Vstajenja Primorske, among others. (And I sang what is now the slovenska himna with a Slovene choir on tour in Sweden for May Day celebrations in 1988, before Slovenia was its own state.)

  2. If you know the lyrics, that you’re almost reqired to 🙂 I’ll try to concoct something of a walking sound system (but I can’t make any promises)

    As for titles of the songs: Hej tovariši, Hej brigade, Šivala je deklica zvezdo, Na juriš, Domovina naša je svobodna… I get thrilled just by thinking of them 😀

  3. I played a partisan-song to my Slovene neighbour, when I repaired his PC. He looked like punched in the stomach. It seems like he didn’t enjoy growing up in freshly founded Yugoslavia 🙂

  4. I assume, he just didn’t like being forced to be 100% like all the others, just like the party wanted people to be. Maybe it was better for me not to live in a socialist state. Nevertheless I find such stuff interesting.

  5. I can still sing most of them… And I’ve been feeling sorry for myself for not being able to walk the walk with you 🙁

    Which of course does not mean I don’t wish you as much fun as possible 🙂

  6. We should be ashamed to the bottom of our asses that Liberation Day is not being celebrated in a proper manner. I suppose this puts our tiny lighthouse on the dark side of Europe, where no one ever wanders…

    My favourite song from this disc is Brigade s hribov. 🙂

  7. @Dietmar: 100% like all the others? That’s somewhat simplistic statement about communism. It is true in one sense, but I presume not in the way you meant it, for example that women are 100% like all the others, so they only received their right to vote with the communist Yugoslav constitution in 1946. Before that, they were not like all the others! Same goes for the poor, that were not the same as the rich. Aristocrats were not the same as peasants. Slaves were not the same as free men. Well, yes the Party said they were. I don’t see why that is such a problem for your neighbour.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this piece, thanks Pengovsky. I’m so interested to learn how the events of WWII are commemorated (or not), and it just makes me look all the more forward to our walk. For some reason, today, it also brought me back memories of my grandfather. Not a Partisan, totally different type of war experience, but it made me miss his stories and knowledge.

    And you just gave me an idea for an article, :).

  9. *uh, just to clarify, when I say “not a Partisan”, I don’t mean that he was on the other side…(you know my nationality, but not all your readers do). He flew RCAF anti-submarine patrols in the North Atlantic, 1939-45.

  10. @Dinozaver: Funny thing is, that May 9 was not a national in Yugoslavia, either… And noone I know is able to explain why…

    @Luka & Dietmar: The problem of course is that Partisans are equaled to the Communist party, but that is a huge and unfair generalisation. A majoriry of people perceive the resistance during WWII (armed and civilian) as a generally good thing. The songs are about resistance. Their content is mostly nationalistic (a sort of Slavic Blut und Boden ideology with a twist). But some people connect these songs with Party ideology which (ab)used these songs in an effort to legitimise its policies well after the war. I will post on some of this on Friday

    @lisa: I see you’re getting the hang of being Slovenian 😀 God forbid someone thought some part of your family was “on the other side” – whichever side that may be 😀 I’m looking forward to reading your article! 🙂

    P.S.: I just re-read the post… Plenty of typos… Will correct promptly… 😳

  11. @pengovsky: Ha! Yeah, I guess I’m absorbing more than I thought.

    Mind you, I think my clarification has some to do with my nationality as well. Canadians have a very close and strong feeling to our role in the World Wars, having lost so many of our people in them while others (ahem, southern neighbours) joined up late, got the glory and have crowed about it ever since. The issue of “sides” is hugely tied in with national sentiment for us too, as un-nuanced as it might be.

  12. @Luka: that 100%-stuff was my interpretation. All he said was something like “turn that off. We had to sing this stuff, when I was at school”. He said it with a look of something between “someone punched me in the stomach” and “remembering it makes me puke”. From what I heard, Christmas trees weren’t allowed and some other rather religious customs either. I don’t know how much something like that influenced him, but I imagine some sort of being torn between home and public as unpleasant.

  13. In the 80ies we used to listen to a radio programme on Sundays that included lots of Partisan music – in retrospect I would say it had more to do with the spirit of resistance and love for one’s country than with communism… But I was a child so maybe I am not right.
    I also think the KP instrumentalised everything to do with love for one’s country: this love was TAUGHT in schools to excess, stuff had to be repeated and repeated and somehow the feeling remains we were to love the Party as well. No wonder they say communism is a quasi religion…

    LUKA is right about equality of people being a simplicistic notion: there were visible differences between generations, to add an example. And: we did have rock ‘n’ roll 🙂

    PENGOVSKY: I am afraid I am praising you again on my blog. You did deserve it, so. 🙂

  14. Does anybody know where to find a Trzaski partizanski pevski zbor Pinko Tomazic CD?

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