2013.05.31 11:41

Anušauskas: In 1948, Lithuanians made up half of those deported to Siberia

DELFI.lt2013.05.31 11:41

The time when Lithuanians were sent to slave away in Siberia in the middle of the previous century is still a part of living memory, writes 

The time when Lithuanians were sent to slave away in Siberia in the middle of the previous century is still a part of living memory, writes

Lithuanians were used as slaves for Siberian lumber camps, gold mines, monstrous Soviet industrial constructions; brought there by animal train carriages, left to the absolute will of the commissariat and factory directors.

The Historian and Seimas Member Arvydas Anušauskas read a report in the Seimas in memory of the 65th anniversary of the largest single deportation of Lithuanian citizens in 1948 on 22-23 May, 2013. Anušauskas said that anyone could have become a victim of the red terror if they were a hindrance to the implementation of the communist doctrine by resisting or expressing discontent.

According to Anušauskas, it is now known that from the 156,000 people who were included on the deportation lists by Soviet organisers of the genocide, at least 132,000 were deported to Siberia; every fifth of them died. In post-war years, every sixth deported person was Lithuanian. In 1948 half of all those deported to Siberia were Lithuanian.

Anušauskas stated that from 1940 onwards specifically Lithuanians, along with other nationals, were the victims of Soviet terror. Belonging to one nationality or another was a deciding factor when an individual’s fate was being decided. Already in the spring of 1941 the preparations for deportation were concluded and 320,000 Lithuanian citizens ended up on the “unreliable” individuals lists. The greater terror would begin only when the communist dictatorship returned to Lithuania again.

By 1953 almost a million Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians were arrested, deported and killed. Almost 400,000 of them were deported, 400,000 were arrested and 177,000 were killed.

On 21 February, 1948 a top secret decision was made that was officially directed against the families of hiding or dead resistance members and supporters. “The most notable communist party leaders – first secretary A. Sniečkus, chairman of the minister’s council M. Gedvilas and his temporary substitute K. Preikšas signed all the most important deportation documents for Lithuania. The regional representative group in 1948 was led by the highest echelons of Soviet Lithuanian administration,” stressed Anušauskas.

According to him, the preparations for the larger deportations were hidden, effected by the MGB, border and railway protection army, with the help of police, destruction battalions (stribai) and extra forces from Russia and Belarus – some 3500 MGB workers were sent. Over 30,000 MGB workers, soldiers, officers and “stribai” were tasked with the 1948 deportations, with the assistance of 11,000 soviet party activists.

According to A. Anušauskas, the Kaunas district was the most hurt by the deportation – 2,190 deported, Panevėžys – 2,019, Kretinga – 1,850, Šiauliai – 1,623, Ukmergė – 1,617 deported. On average – a thousand deported from each of the districts of the time in animal train wagons. Each deportation was very similar.

The 1948 deportation was codenamed ‘Vesna’, but this did not mean springtime [literal translation of the word] to the deportees. “The operation was done over two days – 22 and 23 May. First, it was decided to take the deportees from the “familiar” to Lithuanians Yakutia, later this was changed to the Buryatian-Mongolian autonomous republic and the Krasnoyarsk area. It was planned to take 48,000 people, but after information leaks, some of the doomed ones hid,” said Anušauskas.

On 22 May, 1948 the occupants and their helpers did manage to gather together 27,000 people. On 23 May up to midday the train cars were packed with over 10,000 families. But the plan had to be completed because Siberia needed free labour. Among those deported were 11,000 children, no less than 16,500 women, while 9,000 were never caught, Anušauskas mentioned.

“One hundred thousand people have found records of their missing past and pictures, letters and documents concerning relatives, who were swept away by political terror. These people truly know what a political case is and are not speculating on their own specific experience. They are not asked to participate in TV shows, to share their experiences and trials survived. Living memory requires the upholding of the principles of historical justice, but nothing will make these people change their beliefs and views, whatever flow of cynicism may be directed their way in the public sphere,” claimed Anušauskas.

According to him, all of the demographic, economic and other losses of the Lithuanian nation are impossible to count, but they will impact our society and state for a long time. “Without our historic memory we wouldn’t have our unique identity, so when we listen to speeches saying we shouldn’t look back at the past and look toward the future instead, we should remember those people.” 

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