icon     bajuschki-baju

„Schlaf mein Kind, ich wieg dich leise, bajuschki-baju“
„Спи младенец мой прекрасный, баюшки-баю“

An artistic intervention in Lienz/Osttirol on the bike path along the Drau near the Cossack-Cemetery. In commemoration of the Cossack tragedy that took place in the valley basin of Lienz at the end of World War II.
Sponsored by the Cultur Department of Tyrol, Funding Programme: Art in Public Spaces.

This project aims to commemorate the women and children who had followed their husbands and fathers into war, and became the victims of political trade-offs and negotiations.

Painted onto the ground of our public path, you see the words: „Schlaf mein Kind, ich wieg dich leise, bajuschki-baju“, what means: „Sleep, my child, I shall rock you gently, bajuschki-baju“ – and once in Russian: „Спи, младенец мой прекрасный, баюшки-баю“. It is the opening line of The Cossack Lullaby, written in 1838 by the Russian poet Michael Lermontov. Set to a variety of melodies, these words have been sung on the bedsides of countless children in Russia and beyond.

Having fiercely resisted the Russian Revolution, many Cossacks decided to fight alongside Germany in World War II. At the end of the war, several thousand 
Cossack soldiers, accompanied by their wives and children, found themselves in the area around Lienz and Upper Carinthia – which were now part of the British-occupied zone. 

Despite an initial promise of safe conduct, the heads of state negotiating at the Conference of Yalta decided on a different fate: all Cossacks were to be surrendered to the Soviet troops. Those who recognised the imminent betrayal attempted to flee or take their own lives, terrified of Stalin’s inevitable revenge.
Desperate mothers took their children to be drowned in the waters of the Drau River – choosing a joint death over Soviet imprisonment and torture. 

The first line of The Cossack Lullaby, whose letters become part of your journey along this path, lets us remember the innocent child – sleeping peacefully until high-level powers incited a terrible human tragedy.

For the opening of the project the choir of the BORG Lienz under the direction of Mathias Thum sings the first two verses of the lullaby. 

Photos: Gisela Erlacher