Resistance and Suffering

In the Soviet Republic of Lithuania, resistance and suffering were important subjects in the historical narrative of memory. Lithuanian partisan fighting was explicitly mentioned in many publications. Similarly, in the fine arts the Resistance was also depicted as deeply rooted in the people. The partisan was a very popular figure. Alongside the almost 350-page long illustrated volume "The Partisans of Lithuania" a number of special series such as the booklets "Do you remember, Friend" or the book series in Russian and Lithuanian "Library of Victory" were published. These series included the memoirs and first-person experiences of former partisans and liaison persons. Books and films told of the suffering they experienced. A separation into different groups of victims was avoided.
The most famous woman partisan is no doubt Marytė Melnikaitė. She was born in 1923 in Zarasai in eastern Lithuania. She was captured by the Germans in July 1943 and shot on July 13 th after five days of interrogation. Barely a year later she was declared "Hero of the Soviet Union" in Moscow at the instigation of the partisan leader Sniečkus. From this time on the young partisan occupied one of the top places in the pantheon of Soviet paragons. There was scarcely a city in Lithuania without its Marytė Melnikaitė Street; two collective farms and a big textile factory were named after her. In 1955 a large memorial was erected in her honour in Zarasai. Numerous posters, medallions and small statues such as the glazed clay figure shown here celebrate her as omnipresent model for selfless courage and loyalty to the Soviet state. The motif is repeated time and again: the young partisan in a flowing skirt strides forward, a weapon in hand.
After a partisan attack on a German unit, the village of Pirčiupiai was surrounded and its 119 inhabitants burned to death. Among them were 49 children under the age of 15. In July 1960 a memorial ensemble was built around the central figure of the "Mother". She is not only the symbol of pain at the loss of the children, but stands at the same time for the suffering of all Lithuania. In 1963 the sculptor Gediminas Jokūbonis was awarded the Lenin Prize of the USSR for this work. A poster of the museum, which was closed after the political changes of 1989, shows the memorial, which is still present in schoolbooks.
  GERMAN HISTORICAL MUSEUM                                                                                        Imprint · Search · Guestbook