Farewell of Slavianka

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The cover of one of the first editions of the Farewell of Slavianka notes

Farewell of Slavianka (Russian: Прощание славянки - Proshchaniye slavyanki) is a Russian patriotic march, written by the composer Vasily Agapkin in honour of the Slavic women accompanying their husbands in the First Balkan War.[1] The march was written and premiered in Tambov in the end of 1912. In summer of 1915 it was released as a gramophone single in Kiev. Slavyanka means "Slavic woman".


The melody gained popularity in Russia and adjoining countries during World War I, when the Russian soldiers left their homes accompanied by this music. This march was performed also during parade of 7 November 1941 on the Red Square, after which soldiers went straight to fight in Battle of Moscow.[2] This march was also used as an unofficial anthem of Admiral Kolchak's White Army.

It was commonly believed, erroneously, that prior to its use in the award-winning 1957 film The Cranes Are Flying, the song was banned in the Soviet Union due to associations with the tsarist regime and the counter-revolutionary movements. This was not the case. This march was published in an official collection of music for Red Army orchestras,[3] and it was recorded in the early 1940s by a military orchestra under Ivan Petrov (1906–1975), though different lyrics were used during that time. There are lyrics which are usually sung by the Red Army choir today.

Subsequently, several Russian and Polish composers have written lyrics for this music. During World War II in German occupied Poland an adapted "underground" version of the song, Rozszumiały się wierzby płaczące ("Weeping willows began to hum") became popular, among anti Nazi partisans, based on lyrics by Roman Ślęzak.[citation needed]

During the 1990s, the Yabloko party lobbied for the march to be adopted as the National Anthem of Russia, but without success.[4]

"Farewell of Slavyanka" was first used in movies in The Cranes Are Flying. It has also featured in the film Charlie Wilson's War which is set around the Soviet war in Afghanistan and in the Russian movies 72 Meters (72 метра) and Prisoner of the Mountains.

A Hebrew version was written in 1945 by singer/songwriter Haim Hefer for the Palmach. In his version of the song, called בין גבולות (Between borders), Hefer coined the phrase אָנוּ פֹּה חוֹמַת מָגֵן (We are a defensive shield) used by Israel Defense Forces when naming Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.[5]


  1. ^ Василий Агапкин и его марш «Прощание славянки».
  2. ^ Владимир Соколов. "Прощание славянки", Москва, изд. "Советский композитор", 1987
  3. ^ Official ceremonial repertoire for orchestras of the Red Army (Russian: Служебно-строевой репертуар для оркестров Красной Армии - Sluzhebno-stroevoy repertuar dlya orkestrov Krasnoy Armii), Moscow, Voenizdat, 1945. The editor of this collection was the great Soviet march composer Semyon Aleksandrovich Chernetskiy (1881-1950), in 1925-1949 - Head of Military Music Service of People's Commissariat of Defense, later Ministry of Armed Forces of the Soviet Union.
  4. ^ The proposed anthem and its lyrics
  5. ^ [1] (Hebrew)

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