The Tatra Project can be contacted through the Executive Director, Fr. David O’Rourke, OP.
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Balys Gajauskas was a Lithuanian activist and patriot, imprisoned by every Soviet leader except Lenin, for his activism. He was early sentenced to twenty five years in prison for resisting the Soviets, and then in 1978 was sentenced to prison again by the Supreme Court for “anti-Soviet activity and propaganda.” He served a term in the new Parliament from 1990-92.
They were a young couple when Juozas was arrested and sent to prison for anti-Soviet resistence, leaving Zofia to survive as best she could with no help. Juozas describes the imprisonment of young by military authorities for their their resistance. Zofija, or Zose, gives us a very concrete picture of the lesser-known but equally painful lot of the women and families left behind, alone, powerless and hungry, to deal with the harsh rule of the Soviet occupiers.
Antanas Kazakavicius was a resister who was distinguished by the length of time he spent literally underground, in the underground bunkers the resistance built as bases for anti-Soviet sabotage and armed sorties. For them the ‘underground’ was not a metaphor. As he describes it is where and how they lived. Fearing capture and torture these resisters could not develop any knowledge of or camaraderie with the men they lived with month after month.
Dr. Vytautas Landsbergis, the head of the reform Sajudas Party and speaker of the newly elected Lithuanian Parliament, led the vote on March 11, 1990 to defy Moscow and withdraw the Lithuanian Soviet Republic from the Soviet Union. They acted knowing that Gorbachev had threatened to send in the tanks – which he did. Lithuania was the first of the Soviet Republics to defy Moscow. Dr. Landsbergis thus became the first Head of State of the newly free Republic of Lithuania.
Felicija Nijolė Sadūnaitė
Nijole Sadunite is a member of a Catholic Religious Order who was active in the anti-Soviet resistance. In 1975 she was arrested, tortured, tried, convicted and imprisoned for her work on Chronicles of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, an underground record of the Soviet’s anti-religious repression. She has detailed the Soviet use of psychiatric hospitals as places of torture and punishment.
As a high school student Julius took part in anti-Soviet underground activities, serving as a courier and typist for the local leadership. Discovered and arrested by the KGB he was interrogated almost daily for many months, then tried and sentenced to years of exile deep into Eastern Russia. He became a Franciscan priest, the head of an issue-oriented radio station, is well known as a university pastor and as a spokesman for human rights issues.
Irena Saulutė Valaityte Špakauskienė
On the night of June 13, 1941, the Soviet security forces launched a well-planned and surprise deportation of thousands of leadership people – teachers, government workers, police, newspaper and radio personnel, medical personnel, and clergy – in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The largest number – around 13,000 – were Lithuanians. Irena Valaityte was an eleven-year old school girl with the soldiers broke into the farm house where they were staying, arrested her mother, father, older brother and Irena, and trucked them to the railroad yard in New Vilnia where thousands were already being readied for shipment in cattle cars to sorting camps deep in Russia. Men in one train, women and kids in another. Irena describes the long trip locked into the crowded car, eventual sale to a forest labor contractor, and then, a year later, being sent by train and barge to the coast of the Arctic Ocean to work harvesting fish for the Soviet Army now at war with Germany. She details the life, the winter, the forced labor, and the death of so many – including her mother.
Antanas Terleckas was a public dissident who protested Soviet violations of human rights, was first imprisoned for four years, supported both public and secret human rights movements, and was frequently arrested and jailed for his work. Julius Sasnauakas, listed above, became involved in his own resistance work as a student through the influence of Terleckas.
Vladas Terleckas, the younger brother of Antanas, describes his life as a young student in a small country town when the full extent of the new party control took charge of all aspects of town life. School activities, textbooks, student dress, required membership in Young Pioneers, and the terrible public punishments of opponents of part control. He contrasts their view of the local collaborators as lowlifes with their views of the partizanai resisters as heroes.
Amir Weiner is Associate Professor of History at Stanford University, specializing in the history and workings of the Soviet system. These include the foundational roles of and history of total control by the party, the elimination of private property, and the role of state propaganda to establish public views of reality. And he has written extensively in these areas.