Freedom and Honor of the Fatherland

The Guča trumpet festival in central Serbia, which started as a humble gathering of trumpet players in 1962, was recently called "Europe's biggest, baddest summer music festival" by the Guardian. Amid the wild street parties and constant flow of Balkan trumpet music and alcohol, foreign participants are less likely to notice the prevalence of Serbian nationalism. Festival goers sing patriotic anthems, dance to traditional folk songs, and wear the regalia of the chetniks.

Chetniks formed in the early 20th century as a royalist guerrilla force fighting for liberation of Serbia from the Ottoman Empire. During the Second World War, they took up arms as a royalist resistance group, at times collaborating with the Partisans and at times with the Axis Powers, fighting on the side of the Nazis.

Since the fall of Yugoslavia in the 90s, chetnik, which loosely means militia, has come to refer to anyone who is ideologically aligned with the nationalist movement, which is linked to the massacres of the Yugoslav wars. Young people in the countryside confuse patriotism for nationalism and get caught up in celebrating the glory of the Serbian monarchist past.