See the initial website: http://partizanumemorialas.lt/en/ for photos of the target design, and information about the sponsors. The website provides instructions for donation. Soon there will be various options for donation including Paypal.
Tadas was a painter when he gave me permission to use his art as images in my illustrated novella, Vilnius Diary. Since those days (2006) he’s done a number of public monuments in Vilnius, like The Road to Freedom.
The partisans are men who decided to try to fight the Russians who returned to occupy Lithuania in 1941. They organized, armed themselves, and retreated to the forests to fight back. There is a movie about them: The Invisible Front (1914). See here. And here.
About 20,000 of them died. Many of their remains were not found. One of their leaders said, “We are not afraid to die.” The odds were greatly against them. Their resistance movement was between 1944 and 1953.
One of the emotional triggers for me is an awe for their heroism. Lithuania is a small country (about the size of West Virginia) and it was easily overrun by Germany and the Soviet Union. The Nazis quickly killed nearly 200,000 Jews and other “undesirables,” and then came the Soviets who exiled hundreds of thousands simply because they were educated people and might organize to resist the occupation.
Many people like my parents successfully fled the massacres and deportations. But the partisans stayed, and resisted, to their deaths. They chose to stay and fight.
The website shows photos of individuals and there might be video interviews with several survivors, who are in their nineties now. These are the faces of heroes. I think their circumstances are what make this movement so poignant: the small ad hoc force, overwhelming odds, meager resources, living year-round on the run in the forests (like other guerillas), dying horrible deaths (torture, mutilation), and lost remains.
Lithuania has only been free of Soviet and Russian occupation since 1991. (That’s 27 years ago.) It has taken YEARS to rebuild. It is going to take DECADES to process what happened. (Consider: how America has processed the Civil War, the Cold War, the Vietnamese War, the war in Afghanistan, etc. etc.) The stories ARE JUST COMING OUT.
The stories of the escapees, emigres, and gulag-returnees are JUST COMING OUT. (See my other blog entries.)
We need this for therapy, understanding, healing, and appreciation for the sacrifices of others for good. Could you do what a partisan did?
Below is an ad for the project which will appear in Draugas News (English) in the U.S. every month for a year.