Everyday Life in Exile
Deportations are one of the most painful periods in the history of the Republic of Lithuania, when Lithuanian citizens were forcefully evicted from their home and deported to the most severe regions of Russia. Massive deportations of Lithuanian citizens started on June 14, 1941 and lasted until 1953. The main aim of the Soviet occupation government was to destroy the Lithuanian sovereignty, native language, religion, and patriotism.
These repressions were directed against families rather than individuals. After the destruction of entire families, their experience and socio-cultural influence accumulated during decades had to disappear as well.
Terrifying moments of deportations affected people’s lives and left deep wounds in their hearts. Absolutely unexpectedly, tens of thousands of Lithuanians were brought to distant and scarcely populated areas. Here everything was different: sometimes incredibly beautiful and at the same time severe nature, foreign environment, and people of a different culture and mentality with their own language and customs. A usual lifestyle and activities of thousands of people were violently changed. Educated people were forced to do absolutely different and, most often, physical work. The people deported to the most severe areas of Siberia suffered from cold weather, famine, diseases, home-sickness, and losses of close people; however, they did not give up. Prayers, unity, and good-will to others helped to survive all the horror.
In the exhibition, photos, documents, and personal belongings reflect the life of deportees, being far away from their homeland, and the attempts to create their daily life and adapt to new conditions. The exhibits also demonstrate their efforts to preserve and cherish Lithuanianism, traditions, and customs, as well as tell about the deportees’ community activities. All these things united the people, preserved their nationality, and maintained hope to return to their homeland.