24 February 2018
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1941- 1953:
300 000 Lithuanians were deported to merciless inhumanity in Siberia...

From Lietuviai Sibire / Lithuanians in Siberia,
Chicago: Lithuanian Press, Inc. 1981, Dust jacket cover

During the period 1941-1953, some 132,000 Lithuanians were deported to remote areas of the USSR, in Siberia, the Arctic Circle areas and Central Asia. They were not allowed to leave the remote villages they were brought to. More than 70 percent of the deportees were women and children. Around 50,000 of the deportees were not able to return to Lithuania ever again.

During the same period, another 200,000 people were thrown into prisons in Lithuania and elsewhere in the Soviet Union. Some 150,000 of them were sent to the Gulags, Soviet Russia‘s concentration camps, situated mostly in Siberia.

Altogether, approximately 600,000 prisoners were deported from the Soviet occupied Baltic States - Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. There were some 10 million inhabitants in all three Baltic States on the eve of the Soviet occupation. Proportionately, the number of Baltic prisoners would have been equal to a loss of 20 million people in the United States or 5 million in Great Britain.

In October and November of 1940, the Soviet Russia ordered that “anti-Soviet elements” should be listed and reported on. This term included a wide spectrum of people:

1. Members of non-communist parties, including heretical communists;
2. Members of patriotic and religious organizations;
3. Former police and prison officials;
4. Former officers of tsarist and other armies;
5. Former officers of the Lithuanian and Polish armies;
6. Former volunteers who had joined anti-Soviet armies in 1918-1919;
7. Citizens of foreign states, representatives and employees of foreign firms, and employees of foreign embassies.
8. Those who corresponded with foreign countries or consulates of foreign countries as well as philatelists and those who know the Esperanto language;
9. Former high level officials;
10. Red Cross employees and émigrés from Poland;
11. Clergymen of all religions;
12. Bankers, members of aristocratic families and rich farmers.

Mass deportations continued until the death of Josef Stalin in 1953. In 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev decided that deportees should be released. In the late 1950s, the survivors started to returning to Lithuania.

Life was not easy for those who survived and returned to Soviet occupied Lithuania, many were placed in an impossible situation as the government required them to register with the local municipality or face renewed deportation. In order to register, they needed an employer, but no one would have courage to give a work to former deportee. Many were forced to live and work illegally for many years – in their own home-country.

Russia, which officially proclaimed inheritance of all international rights and obligations of the USSR, shows no will to pay compensation to any of them.

The Russian State has still not asked for forgiveness for the Soviet terror in the occupied Baltic States.

Virtually no one has been called to account for what was done, and the West has paid little attention to the horrors of the Soviet times. Maybe it’s time?

“Soviet fascism killed many more people than the Germans, and the lies of Soviet fascism were mostly more severe than those of German fascism,” says Felix Krasavin, a former Soviet-time political prisoner.

During the Nazi and Soviet Russian occupations, including 200,000 Holocaust victims, the losses of the population of Lithuania amounted to 33 percent of the total number of the country's population in 1940. Lithuania lost 1 million people to deportations, executions, incarceration, the murder of the political opposition and forced emigration.

Category : Featured sub-section / Historical Lithuania
  • nina

    "Between shades of grey" was beautifully written and a heart wrenching eye-opener on how cruel the past is and how vital it is to never let this happen again. for a long time I only thought it was the Nazis who caused terror but now I know that it wasn't only one madman.

    November 20 2015
    • Asta

      My grandparents with four children were deported. Fortunately, they returned home after 10 years in Siberia.

      June 12 2013
      • Maria Nikolajeva

        Unfortunately, fiction writers frequently embellish stories of deportation because they just cannot imagine the horrors of it. "Between Shades of Gray" has, I am sure, the best intentions, but contains numerous factual errors, including the statement that Finland too was occupied by the Soviet Union. It is very unfortunate that this book has provided such a distorted picture of human suffering. I have written a short blog post about his book….

        February 08 2013
        • Ellie

          I just finished the book “Between Shades of Gray”. It tells the story of one young girl and her family that were arrested abd deported during this time. It’s heart wrenching.

          January 05 2013
          • Marina

            This is astounding. I had no idea, until I stumbled upon the book 'Between Shades of Grey' which describes the journey of a young girl and her family. It haunts me.

            December 12 2012

            • […] 1941- 1953: 300 000 Lithuanians were deported to merciless inhumanity in Siberia… […]

              December 22 2011


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