"KGB Museum, my reflections - 1" Top 5 Page for this destination Vilnius Travelogue by matcrazy1
Vilnius Travel Guide: 1,770 reviews and 3,663 photos
When I entered the Museum of Genocide Victims first I bought a ticket and looked at a few books available at the ticket office (some were in English). Then I went downstairs and I looked at the first two cells or rather small boxes. They were enough to room a standing prisoner only. Hmm... could you survive say a week locked inside? As I remember they were used to punish prisoners for smaller "offences" against prison rules. For larger "offences"... go futher...
I wonder what happened to communist criminals who did it and those who gave orders or supported them? They should still live here or there. Where? In Russia, Lithuania ? As noble senior citizens ?
No punishment (even symbolic) means tolerance to crimes and is wrong sign for the future. I mean it would be "good" sign for eventual followers here or there.
In Poland the state institution founded to investigate communist crimes (Institute of National Memory) is too weak and needs much more money. The Polish parliament cut its budget due to high budget deficit or maybe rather... because of some political reasons. Does it work the same way in Lithuania?
In this cell the arrested had to take off all his clothes, which were thoroughly searched. He was deprived of his belt, shoe laces and personal belongings, and every button was cut off.
The next door room was the dactilography and photo room where the pictures of the arrested in full face and profile as well as finger prints were taken.
There was guards room when I could see old telephone switchboard and secret red-light indicators. There was a scale for weighing coming parcels. Well, the parcels were banned till 50', then they were limited in weight and content. Under Stalin's regime NO parcels and NO visits were allowed.
There was a toilet inside small so called isolation cell of KGB prison on my picture.
DIFFERENT APPROACH TO HISTORY
I was a little bit confused when I read info about the KGB buiding: "1929 - 1939 - courts of polish occupying power. In 1920, Poland had occupied Vilnius and the surrounding area. Until the autumn 1939 Vilnius voivode courts were acting here."
Polish historical sources describe it quite different:
In June 1920 Vilnius was occupied by Bolsheviks. Polish troops entered Vilnius to defend its Polish majority against Bolsheviks and did it with no fights and were welcomed by Vilnians with great joy. Reffering to official German census population of Vilnius consisted of 54% Poles, 41% Jews and 1.6% Lithuanians in 1917. Vilnius became the capital of the new state: so called Middle Lithuania with Poles as majority. They chose Polish parliament which decided to join the Middle Lithuania to Poland in 1922.
ANNEXED OR OCCUPIED?
Well, I would rather use word: "annexed" than "occupied". I found word "occupation" a little bit Lithuanian - nationalistic unless German dates of only 1.6% Lithuanian population in Vilnius were wrong. Well, it's not that important for me but for those Poles who were born or whose parents were born in Vilnius it maybe important. Am I wrong?
NATIONALISM AND FUTURE
Don't take me wrong, please. I am not a Polish nationalist. I am very sorry about Poles who ever acted against Lithuania and its culture in the past. I am more than happy about Lithuanian independence. I was keeping my fingers crossed for Lithuanian independence in 1989 - 1991 and as great Polish poet and my friend Kaczmarski sang in his song "The fall of the Soviet Union" in 1991: "a neighbour Lithuania has its independence and I myself feel somewhat more independent". I want to have good future with Lithuania.
There was a cell of Adolfas Ramanauskas in the Museum of Genocide Victims (on my picture).
He was born in the USA in 1918, educated in Lithuania (Kaunas Military Academy). He led the units of partisans of southern Lithuania. In 1950 he was appointed the commander-in-chief of the defence forces of the Movement of the Freedom Fighters of Lithuania. He was arrested in 1956 and shot in Vilnius in 1957. His burial place is unknowm.
Well, keep in mind that WWII finished in 1945 in... western Europe only. In the area of central Europe, where Lithuania is located, fights against foreign, Soviet occupation and struggle for independence ended in... 1990 or even in 1991 and was sealed in... 2004 when Lithuania became NATO and European Union member.
I have no doubts that we have better future now thanks to such people like Ramanauskas and thousands unknown, anynomous heroes here and there...
There was a cell with bags filled with documents cut by special cutting machine in the Museum of Genocide Victims (on my picture). The documents were destroyed by KGB executives in 1998 - 1991 to cover up the tracks of their criminal activities. Other KGB documents were either burnt or torn or transported to Russia. The same happened to documents of UB (Polish version of KGB) in Poland. Even old files stored in archives were looked over The evidence of it is the missing pages in the files.
Well, that's why never ending Stalin and communist regimes' crimes will never be disclosed. Crimes committed by Nazis are much better known. The Nazis had only hours or days to destroy documents at the end of WWII while almost peaceful process of regaining independance took 2-3 years in Lithuania. That was enough time for KGB... Or are there (still) any political reasons of not very effective search for communist crimes?
The isolation cell oficially was for those who had violated prison rules, but in the most part the arrested who wouldn't bear evidence were locked in there. The cell had no heating and no window. The punished were kept there stripped to underwear and barefoot. The daily ration was 300 g of bread and half a litre of warm water, not more than five hours' sleep and no excercises. The opening in the door was kept locked nobody without special permission could talk to the prisoner. Prisoners were kept there up to 7 days.
Well, it reminds me a story of very close to me relative. He was kept in similar place in Warsaw, Poland (but with a little bit natural light and poor heating) for... 6 winter months in 50'. He survived and then he was kept in a prison next 2 years till Stalin's death (he worked in coal mines as a prisoner).
Why was he arrested? Well, he was a young soldier in new so called Polish (more Soviet in real) army and being on a pass he visited exposition about the war in Korea in... US embassy (or US Culture Institute ???) in Warsaw. He took one leaflet about this war and - what a recklessnes of a young, free mind in those hard times - he stored the leaflet in military barracks. Someone disclose it and denounced him. Well, he was accused first for being imperialistic military spy and when he... pleaded guilty he was accused about something "better" and was sentenced for "only" 5 years in a prison. Hmm... in some (many?) cases the accused were sentenced by so called unfamous "judicial trio" - three people (no judges) loyal to communist authorities and chosen by them. Thanks to Stalin's death my relative was released earlier but never rehabilitated. Well, in Lithuania he would be either killed or rather sent to never ending, very busy "holiday" in Siberia, I suppose. Hmm... Soviet authorities in contrast to Polish probably wouldn't tolerate/allow US embassy/consulate to publish any materials on the war in Korea that time.
In communist times my relatibe never ever mentioned about his arrest even to his wife or children. Now, he doesn't want to talk about it. I could hear the story only once when he celebrated Poland's real independence after first partly democratic pools for Polish parliament on 4th June 1989 when people chose no-one communist (even not 1) candidate.
He always repeated me that there was no worse thing on our globe but communism. But he was and still is ashamed about this prison's periode in his life. Ashamed victim ? Well... maybe he was forced to do "incorrect, bad things" in a prison to survive or... I don't know. Probably there are thousands or even milions such silent former prisoners of communist regimes over Eastern Europe, Asia... One more reason why it's so difficult to investigate any communist crimes now.
This cell on my picture was called "a one man cell" in official KGB documents just to prove (on paper, Soviets always believed in paper) that they took care a lot about their prisoners in the brightest and best state of the world (the Soviet Union). In real they used to lock 10-20 prisoners there. There was no furniture in the cell till 1947. About that time, the cell was furnished with plank beds and small cupboards, the wooden floor was laid. In the Sixties, space of the prison was considerably cut, and the so called "one man cells" were reconstructed for 2-3 persons.
Electric bulbs in the cells were on all the day and night. Prisoners were not allowed to sleep from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm. As a rule, they had no rest at night either, as it was the time for investigations.
Well, I remember well Soviet rude border soldiers and custom officers in late 70' who keep us (Polish tourists) inside cars over 24 hours on the border crossing point to the Soviet Union that time, Ukraine now. At night one of them used to knock on a car window every hour and talk rudely: ne nada spat (no need to sleep!) or budete spat doma (you will be sleeping at home!). Did he work in a Soviet prison before?
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