In recent years, even more zealous efforts are being made to decrease the influence of Lithuania's past culture, to push the legacy of her most outstanding and famous founders into oblivion, by holding up and glorifying only Communist notables of the Soviet era. An attempt is made to condense the nation's history into the framework of several decades, from 1917 on. This summer, during the Baltic Historians' Conference in Vilnius, historians were explicitly directed to turn all their attention to the Soviet period. No doubt, this is a long-planned and carefully executed policy of ignoring the nation's cultural past.
Last year, the 30th anniversary of the "liberation" was noisily celebrated in Lithuania. Many "liberators" were invited and feted, many of whom did not even participate in military operations in Lithuanian territory. New monuments were erected to persons who did not benefit Lithuania in any way; commemorative stones were erected in every rat/em to commemorate the "liberation," and vast sums of money were lavished to decorate the graves of Soviet soldiers.
This summer, the 35th anniversary of the restoration of Soviet rule in Lithuania was celebrated even more noisily. Russian guests were showered with expensive gifts, regaled in Lithuanian resorts, new "commemorative" stones were erected, new monuments to persons unknown in Lithuania.
Now what happens to the true founders of Lithuania's culture?
In 1973, the Lithuanian Writers Association wanted to honor the memory of V. Mykolaitis-Putinas and to erect a tombstone in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of his birth. Funds were solicited irom the Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR. The Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, (Mrs.) L. Diržinskai-tė-Pliušenko, made the notation "Standard Procedure" on the short letter of request. This means that no more than 400 rubles can be used for the monument. In order to appropriate more funds, a separate resolution must be adopted. It seems that, in the opinion of Diržinskaitė, V. Mykolaitis-Putinas was not worthy of such a resolution. In fact, only 300 rubles were set aside for this project. It was decided to order a memorial plaque in bas-relief and to fasten it to the house on Liepos 21-sios g., where V. Mykolaitis-Putinas lived for many years. This plaque was made and fastened to the house. Unfortunately, when the sculptor presented his bill to the Vilnius Executive Committee, it became clear that even this plaque cost over 300 rubles. The sculptor's fee was quite reasonable, for nowadays even craftsmen charge 1,000 or more rubles for the simplest tombstone. The Executive Committee began to rack its brains where to get the additional money to pay the sculptor for his work. Finally, the latter became tired of asking, shrugged his shoulders and said: "The heck with the money, I did it for Putinas, not for you."
Behold, in July, an expensive tombstone by the sculptor Petrulis was erected in the Antakalnis Cemetery, though only several months have elapsed since the death of Sniečkus. Money was found, and all resolutions were passed with no problem.
This year, in Mikytai (Rayon of Šilutė) a commemorative stone to the "liberators" was erected to the tune of 8,000 rubles. The excavator alone was paid 300 rubles to erect this In Šilalė, 48,000 rubles were spent to spruce up the military cemetery and even more in Ramygala. And how much throughout Lithuania! In the Rasai Cemetery, the country's most important men lie under leaning little headstones and no one is preparing to repair their graves: while plans have already been drawn up to improve the already well-kept cemetery for Soviet soldiers and partisans in Antakalnis.
The residents of Sintauta have asked that their school be named after Pranas Vaičaitis but have not yet received an affirmative answer, while there is no difficulty in naming the streets of Lithuanian cities after still-living marshals.
How many Lithuanian mothers do not know where their sons or daughters were buried in post-war years! How many unmarked graves are there on the tundra and taiga! Who will erect at least one symbolic monument to the victims of Stalin's rage and when will this happen?
In only one year all place-names in East Prussia disappeared. Not a single name remains to honor the momory of the nation which perished in the war for freedom. Who had the right to erase all of this nation's past and to date her history from 1945?
Isn't the same goal sought now, by consistently ignoring and disregarding Lithuania's glorious past?
[This letter from a reader of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania reflects the anguish of many Lithuanians over the fact that Lithuania's past is being ignored—Ed. note.]