News

2019.12.05 13:30

Lithuanian author a Soviet collaborator, researchers conclude

Ignas Jačauskas, BNS2019.12.05 13:30

Petras Cvirka, a prominent Lithuanian poet and author, actively collaborated with the Soviet authorities and his activities had "harmful consequences" for Lithuania and its citizens, the Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center (LGGRTC) has concluded. 

A statue dedicated to Petras Cvirka is currently standing in central Vilnius. Critics, who say he actively collaborated with the Soviet authorities, want the monument removed. Others, meanwhile, claim his literary achievements deserve recognition.

In its conclusions, LGGRTC says that the relevant historical facts and context, verified by specialists, point to "active collaboration" by Cvirka with the occupying regime. The center has forwarded to BNS a copy of its conclusion to Vilnius' municipal Historical Memory Commission.

Read more: Soviet Lithuanian author in the crosshairs of memory politics

"Petras Cvirka, in his political and public activities, actively collaborated with the structures of the Soviet occupation authorities, and his collaboration had significant and harmful consequences for the fate of the Lithuanian state and its citizens," it says.

The document gives an overview of the historical context of 1940 when the Soviet army moved into Lithuania and a puppet government was installed to legitimise the country's occupation by the Soviet Union

The centre notes, among other things, that Cvirka was elected secretary to the presidium of the "People's Seimas" on July 21, 1940, the first day of the sham parliament's work.

Read more: When poem could land you in prison: Soviet Lithuanian author implicated in fellow writer's persecution

Cvirka, Antanas Venclova, also an author, and another three members of the presidium signed a declaration on "the introduction of the Soviet order in Lithuania".

In his speech before the "People's Seimas" on August 24, 1940, Cvirka glorified the Soviet regime and welcomed Lithuania becoming the "Soviet Socialist Republic" and its adoption of the Soviet Constitution "inspired and created by the great Stalin".

The conclusion comes amid renewed public debate about whether or not to remove a monument to Cvirka from a square in central Vilnius.

Those advocating against the removal, including Culture Minister Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, himself a poet and literary scholar, emphasize that Cvirka was a gifted author and say that "we will not erase the dramatic pages of Lithuanian history" by taking down Soviet-era monuments.

VIlnius has recently been at the centre of Lithuanian memory politics after removing a plaque to a controversial military officer and an alleged Nazi collaborator, Jonas Noreika-Vėtra, and renaming a street dedicated to Kazys Škirpa, a Lithuanian officer and diplomat accused of promoting anti-Semitism in a bid to collaborate with Nazi Germany against the Soviets.

Read more: Political fallout continues after protesters reinstall Noreika plaque