Zoldnere is a Latvian film director, curator and publicist. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

When the war comes reveals not only the increasing threat we are facing from far-right groups, but also the vulnerability of our constitutional systems.

When the war comes (Až přijde válka)

Jan Gebert

Czech Republic / Croatia 2018

The title of Jan Gebert’s documentary When the War Comes (Až přijde válka) might suggest a military conflict, but the film is instead a portrayal of the war of political ideas in the Western World. Against the political background of Brexit, Trump, Putin, Orbán and Duda, the Slovak far-right paramilitary organization Slovak Recruits (Slovenski Braci) comes off as a small player. Unfortunantely, it symbolizes a global trend instead. The nationalists are posing a severe challenge to the political powers and demonstrate that they need to be taken seriously, regardless of how absurd their ideas sound to many of us.

Tyranny and populism

The film is constructed around its main character Peter Švrček, a young nationalist, who obviously identifies himself with the influential leaders of the past. After receiving military training in Russia, he becomes the founder of an ambitious project called Slovak Recruits – an organization whose proclaimed goal is to protect the Slovak state in a case of war or other exterior threat. In a relatively short time, the paramilitary group manages to gain a visible position in the Slovak society. Its members are even allowed in schools to teach children patriotism based on Slovak Slavic origins.


The democratic opposition, which questions the organization’s real intentions and criticizes its members for liking such Facebook pages as The Voice of Russia, Donbass Revolution and Stop Islamization of Europe-march, doesn’t manage to hinder Peter and his followers. The young nationalists are not only succeeding in the battlefield but also in populist speech. Some of the things proclaimed by the main hero are surprisingly similar to the announcements made by the current president of the United States.

«The young nationalists are not only succeeding in the battlefield but also in populist speech.»

When asked about the refugee crisis, Peter answers: «First we need to ensure the safety of Slovak and EU citizens.» This resembles Trump’s «America first» to a great extent. Moreover, after an interview the protagonist further claims: «There is no such a thing as bad publicity. If they make us sound like fascists, so be it.» Let´s not forget that in the case of Trump, this dangerous idea worked out surprisingly well.

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