A solemn session in the Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, paid tribute to victims of Soviet deportations as Lithuania marks the Day of Mourning and Hope on Friday.
“With the first Soviet victim, Aleksandras Barauskas, we entered the period of Soviet occupation, which we now neutrally call the Soviet times. It's a strange term, creating the possibility of confusing an entire historic period of non-freedom, one that saw more bloodshed than any other time.
“The middle of the 20th century was among the most brutal in our history. But the shadow of guilt is still wandering today, failing to find the addressee,” historian Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas' Commission for the Rights and Affairs of Participants of Resistance to Occupation Regimes and Victims of Occupation, said during a solemn parliament sitting on Friday.
Gumuliauskas said that the Soviet security, NKVD, in 1941 initially planned repressions against 320,000 people.
“It even included primary school kids. But they did not have resources to execute repressions on such a scale, which later reduced the appetite of the Soviet butchers,” Gumuliauskas said.
He said that mass deportations started between 2 and 4 AM on June 14, 1941, and officially lasted until June 18, though in reality people were being sent away until June 22.
“Almost half of those June deportees were under 16. The occupation authorities had no mercy even for babies, 556 infants under 12 months old were put on cattle wagons. A third of them soon died of cold, hunger and disease,” the historian said.
Lithuania is marking the Day of Mourning and Hope, the 78th anniversary of the beginning of mass deportations from Lithuania by the Soviet regime.
In 1940-1953, around 130,000 people were deported from the country and 156,000 more were imprisoned.
Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union, does not recognize the occupation of Lithuania and other countries.
Read more: Lithuania marks Day of Mourning and Hope, paying tribute to victims of Soviet deportations