This past week I have been in Lithuania on a mission trip. We are partnering with a church in Lithuania and this trip was to help us acclimate to the culture of this great country.
One of the first tourism visits we made in the country of Lithuania was to the KGB Museum. Housed in a beautiful historic building, the three floors of facts and evidence of Soviet occupation are somewhat overwhelming. As I walked through the museum this week here are the random thoughts I recorded:
- One visit will change your life
- More Lithuanians were deported from their homes than from any other nation. (Over 60% of deportees were Lithuanians.)
- Anyone who questioned the new government or was thought to be negative towards it was thrown into prison.
- Prisoners were often subjected to cruel punishment, including standing for hours in ice-cold water. We saw the specially designed rooms where this occurred.
- Prisoners who caused any problems were put is a 3 x 3 cell and forced to live on very little food for days in only their underwear, with no heat in the frigid Lithuanian winters.
- The main prison where detainees were kept was designed for 650 prisoners. During the Soviet reign it held over 8,500.
- The Soviets immediately got rid of intellectuals, educated, and professional men, sending them to places like Siberia.
- Many times women went to work and led their homes with the forced absence of the father.
- Deportees tried to make the best of their situations, organizing basketball tournaments and producing dramas.
- The Communist Party believed they were right and justified in their actions.
- Soviets put out atheist propaganda to combat the growing Christian presence among deportees. Christians rose to the occasion and ministered to hurting people during Soviet occupation.
- During Soviet occupation all Lithuanians had to learn Russian. The language is still a large part of the country’s culture.
- On March 11, 1990, the Lithuanians declared independence from the Soviet Union.
- There were hardly any flowers during the reign of the Soviet government. Flowers are now plentiful and inexpensive. They are everywhere.
Have you ever studied the Soviet occupation of former Soviet Union countries?
I will continue to share thoughts about my time in Lithuania in days to come.