Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mars na Drinu // March on the Drina

Note from Aleksandra:

One of the greatest patriotic songs of any people, anywhere, is "March on the Drina", a World War One song written by Serbian composer Stanislav Binicki. The Drina River runs through Serbia and Bosnia, and was the site of the Battle of Mt. Cer in August of 1914, a pivotal battle between the Serbs and the occupying Austro-Hungarian forces. The Serbs won the great battle of Cer and "March on the Drina" was written to honor the bravery of the fallen Serbian soldiers.

This was one of the very first songs I remember from my childhood and the video below, posted by "cveti007" on YouTube, includes a great version of the song, a photo slide show, and actual live film footage! You cannot help but feel deep national pride and patriotic passion upon listening to this timeless tribute to the military bravery so embedded in the soul of the Serbs.

If you are not Serbian, you will still enjoy it and be moved. Both the English and Serbian lyrics are included below.

Zivela Serbia!

Aleksandra Rebic


English Lyrics:

To battle, go forth you heroes,

Go on and don't regret your lives

May Cer see the front, may Cer hear the battle

and river Drina glory, courage

And heroic hand of father and son!

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 foreigner 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!

Serbian Lyrics:

У бој, крените јунаци сви

Крен'те и не жал'те живот свој

Цер да чује твој, Цер нек види бој

А река Дрина славу храброст

И јуначку руку оца, сина.

Пој, пој Дрино, водо хладна ти

Памти, причај кад су падали

Памти храбри строј

Који је пун огња, силне снаге

Протерао туђина са реке наше драге.

Пој, пој Дрино, причај роду ми

Како смо се храбро борили

Певао је строј, војев'о се бој

Крај хладне воде

Крв је текла, крв се лила

Дрином због слободе.


To get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at


Monday, August 24, 2009

Battle of Cer: First Allied Victory of World War One led by Serbs

Monument to the heroes of Cer in Serbia August 23, 2009

On August 23rd, 2009, In the midst of ceremonies marking the 95-year anniversary of the Battle of Cer [pronounced Tser], the first Allied victory of WWI, the archpriest of the Serbian Šabac Diocese announced the building of a church dedicated to the fallen heroes of the First World War and to the glorious Serb-Russian saint, St. John the Wonderworker

We shall do everything to make sure the Cer heroes finally have their own church. Back in 1939, the reserve officers from this region collected money and received permission to build the holy temple by the Tekeriš Memorial, but the war thwarted their plans. Many of them lost their lives while fighting as Chetniks, and those who survived the war ended up in communist prisons. St. John of Shanghai — missionary, wonderworker and benefactor - will be the patron saint of the church,” Fr. Petrović said.

St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.

The Serbian state ceremony of the laying of the wreaths at the Tekeriš Monument to the heroes of the Battle of Cer on August 23rd, 2009 was also attended by representatives of the governments of Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Hungary and Austria, who also laid wreaths at the monument to the fallen Serb WWI heroes.

"Mr. Colonel, Sir! Requesting permission to retire. I have been wounded."

"Permission denied," the colonel responded over the field phone.

"Mr. Colonel, Sir! Requesting permission to go to the unit’s infirmary to get the wound bandaged, I will return immediately!"

"Permission denied!"

A few minutes later, the winded messenger brought a letter to the wounded lieutenant from the colonel, reading:

My son, I beg you as I beg the Lord, do hold on — the auxiliary is on its way. The eyes of all of Serbia are upon you!

This dialogue of the commander of the Third Division of the Serbian Army with his son, officer in charge for combat security, took place 95 years ago, on the slopes of Cer Mountain in central Serbia.

The famous battle, deemed a masterpiece of the art of war for its brilliant strategy, command and execution, courage, heroism, tactics, sacrifices and triumphant outcome, broke out near the village Tekeriš on Cer Mountain, in the night between the 15th and 16th of August 1914.

By August 24th, there wasn’t a single Austro-Hungarian soldier left on the territory of Serbia.

The Battle which marked the beginning of the end of the Habsburg Empire

Austro-Hungarian soldier Egon Erwin Kisch described in his personal diary the devastating defeat that the Austro-Hungarian army suffered in Serbia in the following way:

Our army has been crushed and it is running away in utter disarray, in a wild and panic-stricken flight: a beaten army — no!, an uncontrolled mob running towards the border in senseless panic. Drivers whipped their horses, artillery troops jabbed their horses with spurs, officers and soldiers shoved and squeezed through between the columns of wagons, or ran in bunches through the roadside trenches…

Kisch also made a following note:

These Serbs are remarkable... they know how to defend their land.”

In the Battle of Cer Serbian forces lost more than 16,000 soldiers, while the Austro-Hungarians, who invaded Serbia from Bosnia, suffered a loss of over 25,000 troops.

In honor of those known and unknown Serbian heroes of the Battle of Cer, whose immense sacrifice marked the beginning of the end of the Habsburg Monarchy, we have started building a wooden church near the mountain summit, for which we have received a blessing by the Šabac Diocese Bishop Lavrentije,” Father Vojislav Petrović from the town of Šabac told the Belgrade daily Politika, adding that “Cer Mountain is Serbia’s undeniable Olympus of Freedom, and it should also be its spiritual junction.”