June 14, 1940. Why the Russians should apologies?
67 years ago, in June 14 1940 the Soviets began the massive Deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia. In one week 17. 730 (a size of an average Lithuanian town) were deported to Altay, Krasnoyarsk, Kirov, Novosibirsk, Omsk and Koma.
The deportations started in one time between 3 and 4 am. The chosen were the intellectuals and academics, political activists, businessman and successful farmers, medics, lawyers, military, teachers, religious leaders. One third of them were children up to 16 years. One household in one hour could gather 100 kg of belongings and were escorted to the train stations. In 57 stations across the country 1202 cattle train carriages were used to transport them to Siberia. Most affected areas were those of Vilnius and Kaunas cities, and that the Šiauliai county.
The Kremlin planned to deport around 50% of the Lithuanian population but the Nazis obstructed those plans for 4 years. No wander that the Lithuanians greeted the Nazi solders as the saviours.
However, the deportations resumed after the Nazi occupation was replaces by the Soviet occupation in 1944. 1948 saw the largest amount of deportations to Siberia. 40.002 were deported just in one year, 11.066 out of those were children. Just to compare Marijampolė, the 7th largest Lithuanian city has 47.000 dwellers. However, to achieve the objective of deporting 50% of the Lithuania’s population prevented Stalin’s death in 1953.
It is calculated that every third Lithuanian was physically affected by the Soviet repressions between 1940 to 1953. Just in 13 years Lithuania lost almost a one third of its population (around 800.000 out of 3.5 million) through deportations, partisan war, emigration and holocaust. In comparison the Lithuanian capital Vilnius has over 550.000 of dwellers and the second largest Kaunas has about 370.000. Hence, we are talking about a population of the two largest country cities vanishing in 13 years.
As the first deportation week in June 1941 indicated the Soviets decided to break the nation’s spine by deporting the best of the best. The cream of the nation was lost irreplaceably.
Those are only statistics, but the human tragedies behind it are heart breaking. I had a chance to participate in an expedition to Siberia, the Irkutsk region back in 1989 and see it with my one eyes were the Lithuanian deportees perished. Even meeting some of them still there, who due to many circumstances never managed to return to Lithuania. Only one question was asked ‘WHY?’
I would like to ask another question. What is the difference between the Soviet and the Nazi atrocities? What is the difference between a Frenchmen or an Norwegian victim who fallen from the Nazi bullet and between a Lithuanian or a Latvian who fallen from the Soviet bullet or frozen to death in Siberia? Does that mean that the Nazi victims are ‘privileged’ to be classified as the real victims but not the Soviet victims? Especially those from the Soviet occupied countries. I would be arrested if I would wear the swastika on my T-shirt in Vienna, however none would even raise an eyebrow if I would wear a T-Shirt with Stalin’s portrait, the KGB letters and the hummer and sickle!
Why Germany had to acknowledge its atrocities and compensate to the victims and the USSR’s successor Russia doesn’t? Would post Nazi Germany remained a danger to Europe if it did not understood its history and made appropriate conclusions? Yes, it would. Is Russia, which is refusing to repay and say apologies to its victims, who is revising its history, which has brought the Soviet National anthem and made it to the Russian one, which is constantly harassing its Baltic neighbours is a potential danger to the region’s stability?
The Western historians constantly reminding us that it is essential to study the atrocities of the Nazism, since we must remember it. ‘Never again!’ they correctly notice. Some Westerners and the Russian politicians are calling the Lithuanians and the other victims of Communism to forget their past and live for future. Having lived through the Soviet occupation recently and observing the latest political trends in Russia we are saying: we must remember what happened to us, it is our duty, so we can also say ‘Never again!’. That is for Russia’s sake and ours.