Belgrade cook fired for objecting to Nazi-era song

A cook in a restaurant in Belgrade's Skadarlija District has been fired for objecting to the song "Lili Marlene" being played at the establishment.

Source: Vecernje novosti
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Skadarlija (Thinkstock)
Skadarlija (Thinkstock)

The newspaper Vecernje Novosti writes on Thursday that the cook, Marko Orelj, stopped the musicians when they started playing the song - which became popular during the Second World War, and was a symbol of the German Nazi occupation of Belgrade - for a group of German guests.

"As I was preparing the food, I heard, coming from the restaurant, the notes of the song that the fascist soldiers had on their lips when they committed the worst crimes in the history of humankind," Orelj recounted the evening for the daily.

He said he then called the restaurant's manager.

"He just laughed at what I said. I asked him if it was normal for songs like this to be played in the middle of Belgrade, to which he told me I could go home," Orelj said, and added: "We are now in a situation where we humbly lower our heads in front of anyone coming from abroad."

The restaurant's manager, meanwhile, confirmed for the newspaper that he "told Orelj to go home" and added: "He was hired as a cook, not to be the music editor."

According to the manager, "Orelj also shouted loudly that the song must not be played."

"Lili Marlene" was the best known song broadcast to the occupied Belgrade at exactly the same time - 21:55 hours - every evening. It was "the favorite song of the German troops, but also an important symbol for the Allied soldiers," the article noted.

Although a love song, it became a symbol of war, and in Serbia, it is tied almost exclusively to the German occupation, and the crimes committed by the Nazis.

The song also had an important place in Serbia's post-war popular culture, with perhaps the best known rendition by late Serbian folk star Toma Zdravkovic, seen in the movie "Balkan Express", set during the German occupation of Belgrade.

(Video in Serbian)

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