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“…Deportations from the Baltic states had been planned in Moscow while the countries were still free but already designated a subjects to be occupied…. Preparation for mass deportation, called ‘purging of Lithuania’, was initiated soon after the illegal incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union on August 3, 1940…

“The first mass arrests were executed June 14-15, 1941, and continued until war started between Soviet Russia and Germany on June 22. The people had from half to one hour to pack the allowed household articles… The deportees came from all walks of life and represented all ages, no excluding infants, pregnant women, the sick or the very old. According to data collected by the Lithuanian Red Cross, 34,260 person were deported during the ‘black days of June’…

“The arrested were taken from their homes to railroad stations and loaded into freight cars, 50-60 persons to a car, although. . . instructions specified only 25 persons . . . Men were separated from their wives and in many instances children from their mothers. The people, locked in the cars lacking air, without food and water, had to wait several days until all the arrested were entrained. The long journey into the depths of Russia killed many of the weal and sick. Lithuanian deportees were transported to northern Russia, western and eastern Siberia, Kazakhstan, and the Soviet Far East. Most of the deportees were confined in forced labor camps.

“The same scheme of mass deportation… was resumed during the second Soviet occupation from 1944….”

From Encyclopedia Lituanica

It is estimated that by 1953, one in five Lithuanians had been deported - a total of about 4000,000.


The following article appeared in 1979 in the second volume of the Russian publication Pamiat ( Memory ). Material for this publication is collected by Russian dissidents in the Soviet Union and later sent to the West.

All we know about the author of this article, Dalia Grinkevicius, a former physician in the Village of Laukuva, is what she herself has told us in the article, and what the publication supplies in its introduction. We have not been able to find her name in Lithuanian underground publications.

Although in recent years there has been no small number of testimonials by witnesses about the suffering of Lithuanian exiled to Siberia, this brief article by Dalia Grinkevicius probably surpasses all others in detail and horror.


On June 14th, 1941, my father, Juozas Grinkevicius, was arrested. He had worked in the Lithuanian State Bank until 1940, when he had become a high-school mathematics teacher. He was arrested because he had belonged to the Lithuanian Nationalist Party until 1940.

That same night they also arrested my mother, my seventeen-year-old brother and me. I was fourteen years old. They told us that we were being exiled for life to Siberia. My father was sent to the Sverdlovsk District - the Gari Concentration Camp. By special judgment of the court, he was sentenced to ten years’ hard labor; on October 10, 1948, he died from the unbearable work and starvation. In his last letter he wrote to us, “I am dying of hunger.”

In 1942, the rest of our family, along with four hundred other women and children, all exiled from Lithuania, were brought to an uninhabited island in northern Yakutia inside the Arctic Circle at the point where the Lena River flows into the Laptev Sea. This island bore no trace of man: no houses, no burrows, no tents - just the eternally frozen tundra, with a small board hammered into the ground to tell us that this island was called Trofimovsk. The guards ordered us to unload boards and bricks out of the barge. Then the steamboat pulling the barge hurried off, because the Arctic winter was near.

We were left on this uninhabited island without any roof over our heads, without warm clothes, without food. The few men and older boys who were still more or less capable of working and who wanted to build barracks for us, were all seized and sent to nearby islands to catch fish for the state. Then we, the women and children, hurriedly began to build barracks. We laid down a row of bricks and covered it with a layer of moss which we had pulled with our bare hands from the permafrost. The barracks had no roofs, just plank ceilings through which the blizzards would blow so much snow that people lying on their bunks turned completely white. A space 50 cm wide was allotted for each person - a big ice grave! The ceilings were ice, the walls were ice, the floor was ice. There was no firewood because no trees grew in the tundra - no bushes, not even any grass, just a thin layer of moss on the permafrost.

When the Arctic night set in, people began to die, one after another, from hunger, scurvy and cold. At the beginning almost all of them could have been saved. About 120-15- km. away, on the islands of Tumata, Bobrovsk and Sasylach there were native Evenk fishing co-operatives. They had extra supplies of fish and enough dog sleds. They wanted to bring all of us to their tents and the burrows they had dug in the ground for the winter. But our guards would not let them do that and so condemned us to death.

( To Be Continued - See March Newsletter )


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