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LISTEN TO THE EYE WITNESSES

A special feature of recent history is that many eye witnesses are still alive and can provide important information on the history and on valuable historical sites. These are people who were present at the sites as prisoners, partisans, participants in demonstrations, dissidents, military staff etc. Listen to some of these people in the linked videos.

VIDEOS: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS AT HISTORICAL SITES

PATAREI COMES TO LIFE

This video is produced in connection with the project “Preserving memories about and of victims of Soviet and Nazi crimes imprisoned in Patarei Merekindlus (old maritime fortification and prison complex in Tallinn). Project holder: Estonian War Museum. Funded with support of the European Union under the program “Europe for Citizens”. See description of the project events below (under the photos). The Baltic Initiative and Network has participated in the project.

See also: coldwarsites.net/country/estonia/patarei-prison-tallinn

More about the video project: War Museum – info

See also the website: esm.ee/about-us/patarei

JURIS VIDIŅŠ. THE RECONSTRUCTED BARRACK IN THE MUSEUM OF THE OCCUPATION OF LATVIA.

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Strēlnieku laukums 1, Riga.

Produced for The Baltic Initiative and Network by VFS Films, Riga, and with support from The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Latvia Office, Riga.

In the Museum of the Occupation a GULAG barrack is constructed with the help of former political prisoners. This kind of barrack was normal in forest regions. In wintertime the temperature was normally below freezing inside the barrack.

Juris Vidiņš farther, Juris Nikolajs Vidiņš, was arrested in June 1941because of his job as a doctor at a Latvian Bordergards Batallion before the Soviet occupation in 1940. He was interned into the notorious Vyatlag Concentration Camp in Permsk region, while his wife Milda (1903) and three children were deported to Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia.

Important museums for the deportations in Latvia:

  • The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Strēlnieku laukums 1, Riga.
  • Museum of Occupation, K.Ukstiņa iela 7, Liepaja.
  • Deportation Memorial Cattle Wagon Museum, Skrunda Railway Station, Kuldiga district.

RENĀRS ZAĻAIS. THE FREEDOM DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE CENTER OF RIGA, 1991

The Museum of the Barricades of 1991, Kramu iela 3, and memorials in the center of Riga.

Produced for The Baltic Initiative and Network by VFS Films, Riga, and with support from The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Latvia Office, Riga.
Video footage courtesy to Kristaps Liepiņš and the Museum of the Barricades of 1991;
Photos courtesy to Ilgvars Gradovskis and the Museum of the Barricades of 1991.

A majority from the newly-established anti-Communist movement, the Latvian Popular Front, was elected to Parliament in 1990 and subsequently declared Latvia’s independence.
After the peaceful demonstration, The Baltic Way (a chain of hand-holding people stretching from Tallinn to Vilnius), two counter-attacks were organized by the Soviet forces and Communist organizations in Latvia. Around 700,000 Latvians – one-third of the total population – responded by building barricades around key buildings. Five people were killed by Soviet forces in the center of Riga. The policeman and freedom fighter, Renārs Zaļais, was seriously wounded. He is today president of the Association of Participants of the Barricades of 1991 and director of The Museum of the Barricades of 1991.

Important museums for the freedom demonstrations in Latvia (All located in Riga Old Town):

  • The Museum of the Barricades of 1991, Kramu iela 3
  • The Museum of Occupation, Strēlnieku laukums 1.
  • The Museum of the Popular Front of Latvia, Vecpilsetas iela 13/15.

HELENA CELMINA. KGB BUILDING IN RIGA, LATVIA

Produced for The Baltic Initiative and Network by “Vides filmu studija”, Riga, and with support from The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Latvia Office, Riga.

The secret Soviet state police, the KGB, moved into the house in 1940 when the Soviet Union occupied Latvia for the first time and again in 1944. They left the building in 1991 after Latvia’s independence. A prison was established in the basement with 14 cells. The house was located on the corner of Lenin and Friedrich Engels Streets (the Soviet names), hence the name “The Corner House”.

During the period of the Soviet dictator, Stalin, and especially during the years occupation in 1940-41 people were tortured and interrogated on the sixth floor and executed in the basement (the shower room) or the yard. Thousands of people were sent to GULAG hard labor camps for decades, after being interrogated in the house.

Helena Celmina, a Latvian artist and writer born in 1929, was imprisoned in the basement of the KGB building for six months in 1962

Important sites for the deportations in Latvia:

  • The KGB building. Address: The corner of Brivibas and Stabu Streets. There is no access to the building, which can only be seen from the outside. There is a memorial at Stabu Street.
  • Museum of Occupation, Strēlnieku laukums 1, Riga.
  • Museum of Occupation, K.Ukstiņa iela 7, Liepaja.
  • Deportation Memorial Cattle Wagon Museum, Skrunda Railway Station, Kuldiga district.

JĀNIS BLŪMS. DEPORTATIONS IN CATTLE WAGONS.

Deportation Memorial Cattle Wagon Museum, Skrunda Railway Station, Latvia.

Produced for The Baltic Initiative and Network by “Vides filmu studija”, Riga, and with support from The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Latvia Office, Riga.

A cattle wagon is established as memorial at Skrunda railway station, Kuldiga District. 2,916 local residents from the district were deported from the station in wagons like this. The deportations took place in 1941 and 1949. Jānis Blūms tells about his deported family and the primitive wagon in which the deported people normally spent weeks on their travel to remote and undeveloped parts of the Soviet Union. A small exhibition inside the wagon tells about the deportations. Ask for the key at the station to see the exhibition inside the wagon. For further information and guide: phone 00 371 658 54203.

Important sites for the deportations in Latvia:

  • Museum of Occupation, Strēlnieku laukums 1, Riga.
  • Museum of Occupation, K.Ukstiņa iela 7, Liepaja.
  • Deportation Memorial Cattle Wagon Museum, Skrunda Railway Station, Kuldiga district.

MEELIS MÕTTUS. SON OF A FOREST BROTHER (PARTISAN).

Forest Brother’s Farm, Vastse-Roosa village, Vörumaa, Estonia.

Produced by Hint-Video and KGB Cells Museum/Tartu City Museum for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

The Forest Brother’s farm was founded and is run by Meelis Möttus. Meelis’ father and uncle were guerrillas or partisans fighting against the Soviet occupation forces after the Second World War. The guerrillas were also called Forest Brothers because they hid in the forests in small underground bunkers normally constructed of wood. On Forest Brother’s Farm, it is possible to see and experience reconstructed underground partisan bunkers, the neighboring farm with original hiding place for partisans inside the house, partisan food and moonshine and partisan songs.

Important sites for the partisan history in Estonia:

  • Forest Brother’s Farm, Vastse-Roosa village, Vörumaa.<(li>
  • KGB Cells Museum, Riia 15b, Tartu.
  • The Museum of Occupation and of the Fight for Freedom, Toompea 8, Tallinn.

EHA LOORITS. DAUGHTER OF A FOREST BROTHER (PARTISAN)

Forest Brother’s Farm, Vastse-Roosa village, Vörumaa, Estonia.

Produced by Hint-VIdeo and KGB Cells Museum/Tartu City Museum for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Eha Loorits lives on a traditional Estonian farm neighboring the Forest Brother’s Farm. Her father was a Forest Brother (partisan) living in hiding in the forests in underground bunkers. Sometimes in the night, he would go home to see his family. The Soviet authorities knew this and raids frequently took place at night. The farm therefore had hiding places for her father. It is possible for visitors to see one of these original hiding places.

Important sites for the partisan history in Estonia:

  • Forest Brother’s Farm, Vastse-Roosa village, Vörumaa.
  • KGB Cells Museum, Riia 15b, Tartu.
  • The Museum of Occupation and of the Fight for Freedom, Toompea 8, Tallinn.

HEIKI VAIBLA. SCHOOL CHILDREN’S ANTI-COMMUNIST RESISTANCE.

The Museum of KGB Dungeons, Riia 15b, Tartu.

Produced by Hint-Video and KGB Cells Museum/Tartu City Museum for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

The underground schoolchildren’s organization, “Blue-Black-White” (the colors of the Estonian flag) had 37 members and was disrupted in 1951. The group was fighting for Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union. The members were interrogated in the KGB prison in Tartu, today the Museum of KGB Dungeons. The members were sentenced to time in Siberian hard labor camps. The KGB described group members as “traitors to their homeland”.

Important sites for the partisan history in Estonia:

  • Forest Brother’s Farm, Vastse-Roosa village, Vörumaa.
  • KGB Cells Museum, Riia 15b, Tartu.
  • The Museum of Occupation and of the Fight for Freedom, Toompea 8, Tallinn.

Albinas Kentra. The camera as a weapon.

The Sites of the Freedom Demonstrations. Vilnius. Lithuania

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Albinas Kentra was a former partisan, GULAG prisoner and deportee. He is mostly known for his unique video footage of the bloody January events of 1991 in Vilnius when hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian people took to the streets in their newly independent country to protect key institutions from the Soviet military forces.

Some important Memorial Sites of the Freedom Demonstrations in Vilnius:

Gintautas Kazlauskas. Deported twice to Siberia.

Druskininkai Museum of Resistance and Deportations.

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Gintautas Kazlauskas was deported to Siberia with his mother and little sister. His sister died because of the hard living conditions. Gintautas and his mother fled back to Lithuania but were arrested and deported once more. Following Lithuania’s independence, he returned to his fatherland after 42 years in exile. He is the founder and current
director of and guide at the Druskininkai Museum of Resistance and Deportations.

Some important memorial sites for the deportations in Lithuania:

Irene Spakauskiene. Deported children of the ice.

Reconstructed Siberian Yurt. Rumsiskes. Lithuania

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Irene Spakauskiene was deported to the Laptev Sea region with her family when she was a little girl. It was a region with permafrost and a temperature of up to minus 50 degrees. The stay was marked by cold, hunger, disease and death, which hit the old and the children first and foremost. The deportees lived in peat huts, so-called yurts. The windows were made of pieces of ice and the inside temperature never rose above freezing.

Important site:
Reconstructed peat hut or yurt. The Open Air Museum of Lithuania, Rumšiškės. >>

Jonas Kadzionis. The Partisan in the Forest.

Restored and reconstructed partisan Bunkers, Lithuania.

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Jonas Kadzionis was a former partisan, GULAG prisoner and deportee. He has reconstructed the former underground bunker in which he hid throughout his partisan life.

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Important sites for the partisan bunkers in Lithuania (1944-1953):

Juozas Aleksiejunas. Prisoner in the KGB prison

The KGB prison, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

Juozas Aleksiejunas is a former partisan who was arrested by the Soviet occupation forces in 1945. He was interrogated in the KGB prison in Vilnius.

Address: The Museum of Genocide Victims, Vilnius. Aukų str. 2A, Vilnius.

Tomas Sernas. Survivor of the Border Massacre.

The Medininkai Memorial. Lithuania

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

At 4 o’clock in the morning on July 31, 1991, eight Lithuanian policemen and customs officers were executed in Medininkai, on the Lithuanian border with Belarus. They were killed by shots to the back of the head. The executers were Soviet OMON forces from Riga (Special armed police units). One of the border officers, Tomas Sernas, miraculously survived, albeit disabled. He had been working as a biologist in Kaunas Zoo at the time and felt that he had to do something for his newly independent country so he volunteered as a customs officer.

Important sites:

The Memorial in Medininkai. The guardhouse is protected as a memorial, located approximately 100 meters from the customs post between Lithuania and Belarus, on main road 103 between Vilnius and Minsk. >>

Museum of the Customs Service, Jeruzalės str. 25 g., Vilnius.

Vytautis Andziulis. Underground Printer.

The secret Printing House. Kaunas. Lithuania

Produced by Algis Kuzmickas, Lithuania, 2011, for the Baltic Initiative and Network.

The secret “ab” Printing House was set up in 1979 by Vytautis Andziulis, a professional printer, and Juozas Bacevičius. The printing activities took place in the home of the Andziulis family, north of Kaunas. The printing house produced 138,000 copies of 23 different books, covering Lithuanian history, religion, philosophy and poetry. The printing house was never found by the secret police although there were some close calls.

Address: The collective garden village Saliai, 5 kilometres north of Kaunas. The printing house is located in the home of the Andziulis family. >>

The printing house is today a branch of the Museum of Vytautas Didysis, Kaunas, also the Lithuanian Museum of War.