As it is well known Lithuania is a country of young independence. But what probably is not so popular is that this small republic was the first among the Baltic Countries to declare its independence that on 6 September 1991 was recognized by the international community.
Since the beginning of the glasnost policy in 1990 launched by the last Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin, in Lithuania begins to grow independence movements demanding more and more autonomy. this meant a less control over the political system, a democratically elected governments the recognition of personal freedoms and between the freedom of demonstrate against the Soviet rule. When the protest became increasingly more massive the Red Army that since the end of the 40s had never left the territory, it tried firstly a violent repression but the army was unable to stem the tide, which in the meanwhile had spread its wage of protests throughout the whole country. After the last attempt of coup d’état, the conditions in which the entire union was lying rapidly deteriorated and became immediately clear. Nonetheless the last Russian troops were stationing in the country until finally left it permanently only in 1993. Much of this troubled history marked so deeply this proud country, that cannot be forgotten, indeed must remain indelibly imprinted in the minds of the people to make sure that does not happen again, that’s what explains the Director of Grutas parkas once there.
This park, unique in all the Baltic States, retains some significant remains of those years. The director explains that this park is not for the nostalgic of an oppressive and bloody regime, but rather a place of the memory. Walk in the paths which sets out these gigantic statues of the legendary leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution of October, Lenin and Stalin in the first place but also a number of characters from the history of Lithuania as the four Communards, bring us back in time and allows us to critically understand how pervasive was the propaganda.
The park is built in a completely original way because in addition to this quiet walk on the banks of history surrounded by forest bordered by barbed wire and watchtowers, the park offers many other attractions. In fact, the museum is not made up only of this open-air part it is composed by a library, as well. It contains many books from the Soviet era and some reproductions of typical pioneers’ uniform. Another room called information centre stored several Soviet-regional and Lithuanian editorials, all of them significantly called truth. It is precisely in this field that every totalitarian system shows his overbearing presence by manipulating the news that becomes just a cult of the leader. Here are preserved busts, medals, awards, flags and even the full text of the press bulletin announcing the Lithuanian army entering into the war against Nazi troops. Finally, continuing the tour you will come across in the museum itself, which carefully preserves all the portraits of those leader and paintings showing some revolution scenes. This works are sometimes recovered by the stuff of the park but the majority of times are just ordinary people that give it. In effect, the park is fully funded thanks to the availability of visitors and families who want to help keeping alive this tourist attraction but mainly this piece of history.
If you are wondering how to entertain your kids during this exciting journey, do not worry because the structure is well prepared. Indeed, taking advantages from this immense space in the countryside, for children has been set up a mini-zoo with characteristic animals from this area, from cute pony left free to graze to stubborn donkeys, there are also several species of ducks and waterfowl and deer and wild boar and a lot more. Finally, if that is not sufficient to entertain the little ones a large space right in front of the cafeteria has been dedicated to a big Luna park with games and animators that during busy periods prepare numerous shows.
I definitely recommend a visit not only for the historical value of its contents and to closely understand this part of history that to us, western, seems mainly legendary, but also just to enjoy a day outdoors in this unique theme park.