Hail the Motherland! Death to the Nemetskie!

Memorial Obelisk at Park Pobedy, Moscow

The Great Patriotic War victory is one that is constantly on display in Moscow and other Russian cities. Between the many memorial park installations, the main museum in Moscow, and the newest war monument in St. Petersburg, people can feel a sense of Russian pride from the victory throughout the vast country. This Russian pride came at a huge cost to the population and morale of Soviets in the 1940s. Nikita Bogoslovsky and Vladimir Agatov produced a song named “Dark Night” in 1943 to symbolize the family struggle during the Great Patriotic War. The lyrics are:

Dark is the night, only bullets careen across the steppe,             
On the wires the wind plays its song, while the stars glitter dimly.           
I know, my love, you don't sleep in the dark of the night. And you secretly wipe your tears back near the baby's cradle. 

Oh how I love the deep regions of your gentle eyes.
How I long to press my lip upon those eyes.
Dark is the night, and it keeps up, my love, far apart,
The perilous steppe, wreathed in black, stretches out between us.

My faith in you, oh beloved friend of my heart,
Is a faith that has saved me from death by an enemy's bullet.
Life is a joy - I can face mortal battle and know,
Know that you'll greet me with love, whatever should happen.

These lyrics mirror the thoughts of millions of soldiers, who had families at home and were not sure if they would survive the war. It also provides an emotional element to a war fought with heavy machinery and caustic ideologies. Bogoslovsky was criticized for his work because many believed it romanticized the war. However, if a reader thinks deeper than the words themselves, they can determine that this ideology was realistic, and applied to all factions of the war. Soviet soldiers fought to protect their families at home and save their country from the German onslaught. This resolve helped them win the war. Many believed the Soviets to be the craziest army during WWII because they lost an immense amount of soldiers, yet never gave up and were unperturbed by their massive losses. This determination, combined with the phenomenal strategies employed to reserve weaponry and mount campaigns, allowed the Soviets to protect their homeland, while capturing other territories simultaneously. Nazi Germany was the true world enemy at this time, and this message did not resonate stronger in any other part of the world, than in the Soviet Union. Fascism never matched Communist ideologies, and German hatred for Slavic populations further aggrandized the anger Soviets held towards Nazi Germany.

While Bogoslovsky’s song is a softer touch on a brutal war effort, its underlying symbolism truly defined a time period filled with horror and death.

The following video provides a beautiful rendition of the song as it was meant to be sung. 





Geldern, James Von, and Richard Stites. Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995. 377-78. Print.


5 thoughts on “Hail the Motherland! Death to the Nemetskie!

  1. Great post!! I think it’s ironic that the song is so soft, gentle, and calm when in reality its talking about the violent and traumatic war effort. Great analysis and connection to the war effort and Soviet Russia!


  2. You do a great job of contextualizing this song and really capturing its poignancy. Dark is the Night is a emotionally deep song that reflects many common themes in other literary and artistic works that were produced during the war. With this song, the consuming and dark sense of the war is captured very well, and in a way that many people could relate to. All had given up something and this song spoke to that loss and struggle. Great post!


  3. Mvalentine says:

    This song really seems to grasp the sense of national outrage the Russians felt after the German invasion, but at the same time, it tempers it with a longing for the war to end, while the Germans reveled in the war (at least at first) the whole experience was painful for the Russians.


  4. This song reminds me of the language used in All Quiet on the Western Front. The war just seems so eternal, likes it always there through the causal language used to describe it. It’s as if though the war is present that it’s no more consequential than a stream that you might notice while writing a letter and casualty reference and not the preeminent focus you would think it would be.


  5. Garrett S says:

    I think the song captures the fatigue russians felt, but the seriousness of the war and why it was being fought pushed them to fight on. The song seems to be invoking a longing for the war to end but at the same time is shows that they understood it needed to be fought


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