“First of all, it is necessary to not forget the events of June 14 because it was just the beginning. The end came significantly later – the last deportations took place in 1953, while Lithuanian people were still slaughtered well into the future. The loss of one million people in the Second World War and the War after War was painful to Lithuania. We can still feel that loss. A million people of Lithuania, 300 thousand of which ended up in Siberia and killed but could have become scientists, teachers, creators, if not for the merciless faith and invaders,” says Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas commemorating the 81th Occupation and Genocide Day and the 80th Mourning and Hope Day.
At 3 am on 14 June 1941 Soviet repression structures began mass deportations of Lithuanian residents to remote northern territories. According to the data of the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre, roughly 18 thousand Lithuanians were crammed into cattle wagons and taken away from the homeland in the first few days. Mass deportations of 1952 focused on guerilla fighters and their families and supporters with an aim to deal the terminal blow to the partisan resistance of Lithuania.
The key objective of the first period of deportations was evident: to unroot Lithuanian residents that had national consciousness. Not a single social layer was bypassed by deportations, however, the intelligentsia was hit the worst.
Occupation and Genocide Day is marked on remembrance of 1940 June 4, the day on which the Soviet Union invaded and annexed Lithuania. 280 thousand Lithuanian people were incarcerated and deported over the time of the Soviet occupation.
Minister reminds that the losses marks a limit that we need to be keenly aware of: we have to defend our state and nation at any price, in any conditions. “Lithuanian legislature defines the defence of the state of Lithuania as unconditional – we will be defending under any circumstances and we will prevent another occupation,” says A. Anušauskas.
Commemorative events of Occupation and Genocide and Mourning and Hope Days to honour the tragic losses and resistance are held in Vilnius and across Lithuania with representation of the Ministry of National Defence and the Lithuanian Armed Forces leadership and personnel.
Photos: commemoration at Lukiškės Square (credits: Giedrė Maksimovicz Alkema)