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When the War Comes

April 22 / 15:00


Jan Gebert






76 min




De Balie, Amsterdam

Peter lives a seemingly happy life. For his graduation he got an SUV, he has a pretty girlfriend, got enrolled in a college and gets along with his parents. However, his real life is elsewhere – as the head of a paramilitary called “Slovenskí branci” that meets in the hills and mountains of Slovakia. He builds up a pretend totalitarian community that trains for the final clash of civilizations.

Instead of waiting for others to call the shots, Peter has been working on becoming one of Slovakia’s greats. At 15, he travelled to Russia to train with the Cossacks and went through the same course as the separatist units in East Ukraine. Back at home, he established a paramilitary that now has a few hundred members who see it as an island of order in a world filled with fear and danger.

According to Peter, his paramilitary represents a model for what European society should be – i.e., efficient, well armed, and hostile to otherness. This observation of a juvenile paramilitary offers a unique glimpse into the powers that were behind 20th-century dictatorships, fuelled by both the left – and right – wing ideologies.

Poster of the film When the War Comes by Jan Gebert