THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Sun, 8th May, 2011 - Posted by
Desecrated bodies of unrecognized Lithuanian partisans.
By Aage Myhre
Christmas 1945 was in most of the world celebrated with a joy and delight hardly ever seen before. Young and old met in homes, on streets and in churches. An infinite series of victory events took place in almost every corner of the world. With a deep sense of joy and gratitude all wished each other a heartfelt good and restful Christmas holiday, knowing that the Nazi-era was over and that the world now more than ever could look forward to a future of peace and prosperity. The war had finally released its grip, forgotten was the economic recession of the 1930s, but forgotten was also our close friends and neighbours - the Baltic States.
On a small farm in northern Lithuania, in the outskirts of the village Šilagalis, the Christmas of 1945 is also approaching. It is the 22nd December today, and the mother in the house feels very happy that her 21-year-old son Povilas finally has come home for a visit after having been away for many months.
He has come to change to dry clothes that can keep him warm through the cold winter days waiting. His mother is infinitely happy to have her son home this one day, and she does everything she can to treat him with all the good food and drink found in the farm stores. You never know how long it will be till next time.
Povilas had joined a local partisan group earlier in 1945, and now spends all the time in Northern Lithuania's forests where the local "forest brothers" have established their hidden habitats. It is from these caches, often at night time, they still conduct operations against the military facilities and forces of the Soviet Red Army and the NKVD, the Soviet secret police which later changed its name to KGB. Soviet occupation of Lithuania has lasted more than a year now, but Povilas and other forest brothers still hope their constant needle can get Joseph Stalin to withdraw his troops out of Lithuania and the other two Baltic countries.
Povilas is glad to finally have gotten a day off, not least to be able to eat real Christmas food and experience a little Christmas fun with the family. A small nick in the pleasure it is that his father and his little sister and little brother are not home. Both the brother and the sister go to boarding school in the nearest city, Panevezys, and his father had in the early morning of that day gone into town to bring them home for Christmas. But his mother is here, and when she and he, with the arms around each other, go out to the barn to feed the animals, he sings joyfully a song stanzas he so often has sung in the partisan camp over the last months: "To die young is difficult, but not for my country. For my native country Lithuania I am ready to sacrifice my young life."
The mother scolds him motherly strictly that he sings: "You know it is not appropriate to sing now that it's Advent." Lithuania's Roman Catholic Church is quite strict when it comes to how to behave through the year's various festivals, and his mother reprimands therefore her son while at the same time she feels proud and glad that he does such an honourable service for the home country.
Back in the farmhouse they suddenly hear the dog starts to bark, and through the window, they see that a group of soldiers approaching. The soldiers are still in some distance, so Povilas has time to hide in a small cellar room they have beneath the living room floor, and the mother has time to hide the cellar hatch as best she can. This basement room has also previously been used to hide partisans, and both believe this is a safe hiding place until the soldiers have left again.
The mother goes out into the yard to meet the soldiers from the Soviet Red Army. They ask about her son is home and if he, in case, is alone. Without waiting for an answer they storm into the house and begin turning upside down all furniture and interiors. Then they begin to shoot down to the floor to see if there may be cavities under the floorboards. It takes some time before they discover the basement hatch, but as soon as they find and can open it, they fire a machine gun burst into the hole. Then it does not take long before they can take the now perforate and lifeless body of Povilas out of the basement. The whole operation has taken them five hours, but they have found what they sought, and another young Lithuanian life has been lost in the desperate struggle against the Soviet over power.
The distance from the farm to the road is over 500 meters, so the soldiers find a chain in the barn so they can tow the corpse of Povilas over the fields to the military vehicles that are waiting. The mother is forced to follow, and soon they are on their way to the NKVD headquarters in Panevezys where the body of Povilas is thrown out in the middle of the courtyard while his mother is brought to a prison cell in the basement.
Early next morning, little Christmas Eve 1945, the mother is brutally dragged up from the wooden bench she lay sleepless on during the night. Today, and each subsequent day through two weeks, she is brought up for interrogation, through the courtyard where her son's mangled body still lies. Christmas and New Year holiday season in 1945 passes by with this terrible routine of a mother dissolved into tears and sorrow, but early January she is released and can finally go home and tell the family what had happened.
In thousands of homes around the world families walk happily around their Christmas trees. They celebrate that Jesus is born and once again has overcome the world's evil. In northern Lithuania the parents of Povilas and other parents of killed partisans find that the bodies of their young sons have been dumped in a forest outside the village Kaizerlingas. During the dark night hours of the early January days 1946, they manage to find the dead bodies of their children and carry them home to secret burials in their hometown cemeteries.
Christmas 1945 is over. Most of the world looks forward to many good years of peace, freedom and economic growth. The Baltic States' ten year long guerrilla war against the occupants has barely begun.
The story of Povilas is real. It is based on a passage from the book "Lithuania's struggle for freedom" (Lithuanian Partisans' War Chronicles).
VilNews e-magazine is published in Vilnius, Lithuania. Editor-in-Chief: Mr. Aage Myhre. Inquires to the editors: editor@VilNews.com.
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