Lithuanians in Kazakhstan in 1948-1955

December 30, 2022

The book about Lithuanians in the special camps in Kazakhstan in 1948-1955, published in 2022 by the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, stands out from traditional history books. It provides a panoramic look at the fate of the Lithuanians who were imprisoned in the Kazakhstan camps. According to its author Algis Vyšniūnas, such a look could be taken across the entire territory of the USSR, i.e. the entire Gulag archipelago, because the overall narrative of the Freedom Struggle in Lithuanian history leaves disproportionately little room for the Lithuanians who suffered and died in the Siberian camps.

Vyšniūnas argues that the trajectories of Lithuanian identity have two fundamentally different vectors: ‘ partisan fighters’ and ‘suffering exiles.’ Gulag political prisoners do not exist in this scheme. The shocking story of the Kengir uprising alone sheds more light on the narrative because it becomes clear that the Lithuanian female prisoner, Vlada Miliūtė, who was run over by a tank during the suppression of the uprising, signifies something other than a hardship in everyday Siberian life. The book does not provide answers. It rather aims to revise the whole discourse of historical memory commemoration by complementing existing narratives.