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Before the war
Vuk Lješevostupac
Vuk Raslapčević
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 Old Montenegrins



Until the end of the last war, until 1945. Montenegrins were able to fight, and always against more powerful enemy, which constantly attacked Montenegro, "as it concealed all the treasures of the world". All the many troubles and suffering of Montenegrin people made the suffer the people across this region as well, which, if used to live in peace, must always be ready - waiting for a new war. "You'll hear from him (Montenegrin) every winter about a war in the spring, and every summer about some preparations for war in the fall," - says Simo Šobajić in his book about Montenegrins.

Those constant enemy attacks on small Montenegro nicely is sung by poet from Cetinje  Alexander - Leso Ivanovic (1911-1965) on "Campaigns to Montenegro", in which, inter alia, states:

"What a treasure were are looking for in you, dear,

with mighty armies and fleets of war ships,

when freedom was only only thing born in your rocks

and bravery was the only industry?

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  .   .  . ....................

o why attacked angrily at your door

like you were hiding all the treasures of the world

and all the gold mines,

you poor my Slovenian"

Indeed, why attacked it, when the only thing they could take was - the freedom, and it could be taken only temporary and seemingly, and soon return it - and pay.

About Montenegrins in Europe long dominated thinking that they know only to fight, and are often considered almost savage people. However, foreign visitors who in early 19 century, on foot or on horseback travelled through Montenegro, quite objectively convey their impressions and break such an opinion about this nation. One of them Viale de Somijer, Colonel of the French Army, commander of Kotor and border the sector towards Montenegro during the French occupation of the Bay of Kotor, which was travelling on foot through Montenegro, and 1810 wrote the book "Historical and political time in Montenegro." In his, quite extensive work, in the one place writes: "Since you yourself provoked these people with violent and torturers doings, you accused them for savagery. When the people do not allow your soldiers to kill, when they resist the theft and plunder your (.. .) agents, it is a wild people!

What is unusual in this nation? When they threaten his survival, he has put on vigilance. When he was attacked, he defended himself. In fact, there is nothing unusual. On the contrary, it is in accordance with reason! What do other people in such cases? What were we doing ourselves? And what we would do in the future? ... It would be better to admire them, that in any place develop noble feelings for the defence of independence! Do not criticize, rather support heroic devotion of Montenegrins against the enemies of freedom".

That Montenegrins all in the world subordinated to freedom - witness many examples from our history. Of many terrifying ultimatums in front of which would fall much more powerful countries, and same spite responses, we will mention only two.

Ultimatum from the large Turkish conqueror - Sultan Mustafa, governor of the two parts of the world and the two seas ", who threatened Montenegrins with full extermination if they do not accept surrender, followed also by threatening response "from us The Bishop and The Guvernadur, Dukes and Serdars, with agreement and unanimously vote, all Council Montenegrin and Mountain. They say: "You threatened and went before, but we are waiting on our land, so our land take our blood. We will, hope to god, put mind in the head, as we had many Pashas and Vezirs. For We never lived for anyone's grace, but always, from time immemorial, on our efforts and gun. We are not in debt but you are indebted to us... Come, and we will give you cold rock and fire from our guns, to you and your power, if God willing, and will be waiting for you night and day. And more of us there will be no writing.

When the infamous Omer Pasha Latas in 1853 with 60,000 Turks besieged from all sides of Montenegro (by Bar, Crmnica, Zeta, Nikšić and Trebinje), sent a letter to Bishop Danilo in Cetinje, whom he calls for surrender. "Don't you see Vlah chief," wrote Pasha, "that I besieged you from all sides, so You can't escape even if you have wings. Caught you like in mousetrap. Come to me with the leaders to the tent and do not hesitate, because sooner you come the more you will be favoured by Padishah and Allah. Without hesitating, and inviting him to contest, Bishop Danilo write him off: "Come Allah's glory, since you won't be honest man if you don't come. My people for several centuries fought against your Padishah and never bent neck like a lamb to the Turkish sword. Come or tell me where are you with your army - so I come to you with my own, and that you and I have little to encounter, after that our armies can do as they wish".

Comment, of course, would superfluous because these examples say how much this people despised death in situations when forced to choose between life and freedom. When freedom needed to be defended - the Montenegrin had no doubt. He went to war as the Holy Commandments, and from these campaigns sought nothing but bare freedom, and always was in a position to defend it to life and death, and to pay it with a lot of blood.

Whatever they discussed, Montenegrin had to mention the war - there was no a theme for conversation which is not connected with the war. Because he fought from the time of his first steps to the last breath: he fought for bread, for survival, fighting for freedom - with a gun in his hand, spent his entire life. With such a mentality and habits he had entered a new era, about that fact there is one anecdote from our part of the country.

Sometime around 1930 in a school in the Katunska district come school supervisor (inspector) to test students' knowledge, and to assess the work of teachers. Of student who performed before the board asked to show where is Kosovo (then about the Fight of Kosovo and the Kosovo tragedy students learned a lot). Unprepared and confused boy put his hand on the part of map where was marked Cetinje with surroundings. "Did teacher taught you that", pointedly asked the master.  "I am, I am," the teacher snapped boldly, "Every point here is Kosovo!"

Heroism of the Montenegrins is considered as a feature without which one can not imagine a good reputation in the village and tribe. The term "good man" always means: good (human) man and a good warrior. They built a special philosophy of morality - so-called law of man, whose principles can not stand the difference between words and doings, and require a great relinquishment and sacrifice for other. The nation developed a cult hero of "kućića" and "odžakovića, facing the "tanjevići" and "nemrčipuške" and the like, as they called those who did not properly perform warrior duties.  Are common and accurate statements as "a good man and good warrior", "good warrior", "better warrior than a man" and so on, so that everyone, not just the village but in the tribe knew who deserves which judgment. Stand the rule that you are not the kind of - as you think you are, but what kind they say you are, which means that the "court of the people" was absolutely paramount.  

In Montenegro, is still a widespread custom of lamentation over the dead. Through lament, as a kind of speech, there are moral and martial virtues, and lamentation are priced according to how well balanced are word on the merits. The one who after the physical death earns the assessment that a lived as a man, he was in fact justified the reasons why he came into this world" - says Slobodan Tomović.  The greatest flaw was when to someone you couldn't say a word "on that moment".

With so tightly constructed criteria, it was strengthening the reputation of those who were able to withstand the court of the people. They all tried to be good at something, mentioned and remembered, and the fastest way to achieve it was the gun. Anyway, people considered a good reputation in the tribe as the biggest capital they can leave to posterity. Those who would morally fallen on this difficult path, caused not only to dirt themself, but also clan and tribes. Because mothers, when their sons went to war, often said, "Come on son, if not became a hero, hence do not come alive".

When talking about morality, about the heroism of the old men law and Montenegrins, who had the full significance in this region, it must be borne in mind that since the old time - many things changed. As soon as began mass politicization, modernizing and towns; as soon as they appeared able to acquire wealth and advanced "foreign" influences - have suddenly started to change and ideas and behaviour. These sudden changes have had later - in the 20th century - fatal effect on this politically inexperienced rural element. Such effects have begun to feel at the beginning of this century, to be demonstrated in particular since 1918. onwards. This caused erosion of the old morality that expressed drastically in the last war, 1941-1945.

However, those high moral characteristics, typical of most of these people always at the end triumphed, although with a lot of effort, and open-minded spirit lives in them as something that is considered an integral part of human nature.

The main features that characterized Montenegrins were characterized Bjelica too, although, of course, every tribe has and its own features, too. Simo Šobajić for them in one place says, "Bjelica (are) modest and humble". They really are modest-they had never been characteristic of large noise and fuss, praise and boasting, are not too much racing for leadership - but therefore still in force as strong and secure tribe warriors, uncompromising and persistent when was need for sacrifice.