Žive naj vsi narodi


France Prešeren Commemoration Day


Szentgotthárd, 2006/02/12


On that sunny winter’s day, many Slovenes from Porabje and Slovenia gathered in the theatre of Szentgotthárd in order to commemorate one of the leading figures in Slovene culture history: the great national poet France Prešeren.*


The significance of Prešeren for Slovene culture


Already at the very beginning it became clear, how important Prešeren is for Slovene history, since the event started with the most essential contribution of Prešeren to Slovene community spirit: by playing the Slovene national anthem. Part of the lyrics (the 7th verse) of the national anthem contains excerpts from Prešeren’s work "Zdravljica". When the first bars of the Slovene national anthem resounded from the loudspeakers, those present rose and some also sang out loud. Afterwards Jožef Hirnök, the president of the Association of the Hungarian Slovenes, and Marko Slotar, the consul general of the Republic of Slovenia in Szentgotthárd, went on stage and welcomed the audience one after the other. Hereupon Marijana Sukič, the chief editor of the local weekly magazine "Porabje", depicted in her speech the meaning of commemoration days, culture and of the Slovene consciousness and soul. The ending of the first topical section of the commemoration day was represented by a little boy, who played popular songs on his harmonica.


Book presentation by Ferenc Mukič


The second part of the event consisted of the presentation of the novel by the author Ferenc Mukič. His book entitled "Garabancijaš" plays at the border area of the Slovene Raba region in Hungary and former Yugoslav constituent republic of Slovenia in the 1940s and 50s and addresses the problem of the relations between Slovenes from the Raba region (Porabje) and Slovenes from the Mura region (Prekmurje) concerning the aspect of separation, which was caused by the Iron Curtain. Ferenc Mukič and Milan Vincetič, a colleague from Prekmurje, portrayed vividly the incidents of that time. The transition to the third and final act of the celebration consisted once more of a musical performance by a young harmonica player.




In the end, a five-member theatre group called "Nindrik-indrik" caused good humor among the large attendance. Neighborhood conflicts, how they could occur anywhere and anytime, were satirized. If and only if the situation was on the brink of escalation, a mediator appeared who managed to bring the wranglers to terms. Ultimately, the quarrel at the garden fence led to war. The antagonists, who were dressed in uniforms, fought each other with (plastic-) weapons. However, the play offered a peaceful ending, which left the audience in delight. And thus the two hour commemoration day in Prešeren’s honor was acknowledged with applause by a highly pleased audience.


* In Slovenia, this day is celebrated on February 8. Since this day is a regular working day in Hungary,

   France Prešeren was commemorated on the following Sunday, February 12.


                                                                                              Joël Gerber  / Tibor Horváth 




France Prešeren – The Slovene National Poet


Origin and Professional Career


France Prešeren was born in Vrba, in the former dukedom of Krain on December 3, 1800.


Franz Prešeren descended from a rural family and was the third of eight children. He went to elementary and high school in Ribnica and in Ljubljana respectively, and afterwards he studied law in Vienna (1821-1828). His passion for poetry grew during his studies. In addition, he got to know both the German Krainer poet Anthony of Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) and the Slovene literary scholars Bartholomew (Jernej) Kopitar und Mathew Tschop (Matija Čop) at the Institute of Klinkowström on Schlesinger square (where you can find a memorial tablet).


In 1832 Prešeren moved to Klagenfurt in order to sit the bar exam at the appellation court (memorial tablet on New Square) on May 26. He almost failed this important exam due to his additional research on the cases of the defendants. In Ljubljana, where he lived working as an employee of a lawyer’s office, the cosmopolitan found only little favor with his fellow men and grew lonely. Only in 1846 he had his long-awaited bar (in Krainburg, Kranj) after having applied for it several times before vainly.


Private Life


In Klagenfurt he contacted the Carinthian Slovene author Urban Jarnik, whom he visited in Moosburg. What is more, he got to know the spiritual Anthony Martin Slomšek.


Prešeren’s love life was characterized by negative experiences. His big love Julia Primitz (Julija Primic) did not respond to his love, even though a part of his issue of “Poezije’ contained her name in its acrostic*. In 1839 he got to know the worker Ana Jelovšek, whom he had three children with. However, she left him again later.


* The initial letters or words of poems or texts add up a meaning when being read successively.


On February 8, 1849 he died in Kranj, which was still called Krainburg at that time, of cirrhosis of the liver.


Prešeren’s Work


Prešeren is considered one of the greatest Slovene poets. Not only did he write Slovene literature but he is also known for his German works (poems and sonnets). He is famous for his love and nature lyric and his great historical epic "The Baptism on River Savica" (Krst pri Savici). In 1848 his opus magnum Poezije (Poetries) was published.


Today’s Slovene hymn still contains the 7th verse of the Zdravljica:



Žive naj vsi narodi                                                   

ki hrepene dočakat' dan,                                          

da koder sonce hodi,                                                                

prepir iz sveta bo pregnan,                                       

da rojak                                                                   

prost bo vsak,                                                                          

ne vrag, le sosed bo mejak!                                    


God's blessing on all nations,

Who long and work for that bright day,

When o'er earth's habitations

No war, no strife shall hold its sway;

Who long to see

That all men free

No more shall foes, but neighbours be.


Translation: Janko Lavrin



The main square of Ljubljana, Prešeren Square, was named after Prešeren.




Boris Paternu: France Prešeren. Ein slowenischer Dichter 1800-1849, München 1994

Wilhelm Baum: France Prešeren, ein slowenischer Dichter in Österreich, in: Österreich

 in Geschichte u. Literatur, 43, 1999,107-117 

France Prešeren: Deutsche Dichtungen, hrsg. v. Wilhelm Baum, Kitab, Klagenfurt 1999



                Pictures                                                         Joël Gerber  / Tibor Horváth