ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 2014 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Volume 60, No.2 - Summer 2014
Editor of this issue: Almantas Samalavičius

Individuals in the Field of the Politics of History
during Lithuania's Soviet Period


AURIMAS ŠVEDAS teaches history at the Vilnius University. His area of research is the history and theory of historiography. His newest book, written with Lina Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė, is Epizodai paskutiniam filmui: Režisierius Almantas Grikevičius (Episodes for the Last Film: the Director Almantas Grikevičius. Vaga, 2013).

An earlier version of this text was published in the journal Lietuvos istorijos studijos as “Asmenybės sovietmečio Lietuvos istorijos politikos lauke: elgsenos strategijos ir galimybės išlikti,” 91–104.

This article tries to answer the following questions: What types of individuals may be identified from 1944 to 1956 and from 1957 to 2000 in the field of Lithuania's politics of history? How did the behavior strategies of these personalities correlate with their chances to stay in the public discourse? What positive or negative deeds were these individuals able to accomplish during the Soviet epoch? How did these activities influence the processes of forming or deforming the historical memory of Lithuanian society during the Soviet period?

Only two steps - two decades - separate us from the Soviet epoch. At first glance, it might seem this temporal bridge between two totally different epochs is far too short for us to be able to undertake the requisite comprehensive empirical research or draw sufficiently well-founded theoretical conclusions. On the other hand, a fast-changing world is erasing the colors and silhouettes of Soviet life from our remembered feelings, thoughts, and mental maps so rapidly there is a danger we might soon lose some of them forever, although we need them to record the facts as well as to draw theoretical generalizations. This is especially true of the people who created these colors and silhouettes in the first place: both the silent majority and the individuals arising out of this crowd. The people who, by their lives, built, demolished, gave witness to, or denied the Soviet epoch are receding from us every day; they and we are ever more separated by a time gap that creates ever new hurdles of emotion and meaning between yesterday and today. That is why we must not delay listening to their voices, which we can still hear by communicating with people who had known them, by leafing through their books, by going along the streets they frequented, and by looking at their photographs.

It is obvious that time is quickly erasing from our memories both the faces of the silent majority and those of prominent individuals; it is therefore important to look especially closely at the latter today.

But why? On what grounds is this assumption justified? Why is it especially important to look at individuals in order to gain an understanding of the Soviet epoch? We will try to answer this question with the help of two arguments.

Why is the Individual Important? Two Argument

Investigations into the Soviet period often pose real challenges to the professional community of historians and broader society. This occurs mainly for two reasons. The first is that consideration of the complex and painful topics of the era often provokes ambiguous emotions, calls forth heated polemics, and sometimes pushes a finished piece of research from the field of academic reflection out into the public sphere, where the rules of the game are frequently not fully understood by the scholar and can therefore mislead him. The second is that the Soviet period becomes a professional and existential challenge to a contemporary researcher precisely because of the difficulties involved in correctly analyzing and interpreting the phenomena and developments of the most recent past.

The Ideological Argument

In the community of historical researchers and in society at large, evaluative discussions about individual and collective choices of behavior in the face of non-freedom during the Soviet period and the moral implications of these choices are a constant topic of discussion. Several viewpoints that are more or less opposed to each other emerge in these discussions.

One group of scholars tends to believe that the drama of choice under conditions of non-freedom faced by individuals and society played itself out in a clear binary opposition between resistance and collusion. A second group essentially augments this view by saying that, while society and individuals existed in a field of tension among three available choices - to resist, to accommodate oneself to, or to collaborate with the Soviet system - the absolute majority chose a passive way of accommodating to the new reality. A third view gives this accommo-dationist stance a new color by claiming that even though the majority of Lithuania's inhabitants were indeed opportunists to a greater or lesser degree, they made accommodations, not for the sake of leading a "passive" existence, but in order to preserve a Lithuanian spirit and benefit Lithuania. A fourth group takes a further, important step by distinguishing among the varieties of accommodation (with emphasis on the individual's outer demeanor) and opposition (at times dissenting from the regime without transgressing its permissible limits) along with outright resistance.

The abysses of mutual misunderstanding separating these four positions can only be bridged with the help of arguments provided by the twists and turns of the biographies of specific individuals. The observation and analysis of these biographies allow us to leave generalities behind and to start discerning nuances, reservations, and what lies beneath them. In other words, a careful look at the life circumstances of a particular Soviet-era individual may help us avoid falling into the trap of binary, black-and-white oppositions and, at the same time, to see that life in an unfree society was dominated, not by the color black or the color white, but by grays - just because in a specific person's personal and creative biography we can find situations in which a decision to resist gave way to accommodation, which in turn gave way either to collaboration or the opposite.

The Source Investigation Argument

An epoch that lasted half a century, marked by constant clashes between what one thought and what one did, has often left fragmented, uninformative, self-contradictory, and deliberately misleading written records that sometimes not only do not help to answer questions about what really happened, but also ensnare the researcher in a cobweb of intentional omissions, half-truths, and outright lies.

Thus in the gray twilight created by a lack of empirical data and fragmentary records, the histories of individuals often shed much more light, frequently permitting a glimpse of what was going on around them as well. In seeking to discern Soviet-era individuals and engage them in conversation, a researcher of the past often tries to step over the limits set for hermeneu-tics by traditional (written) sources. This involves turning to oral-history methods, which offer so many new perspectives for gaining knowledge, bringing various visual sources into the historical (re)construction, and delving into material culture artifacts that previously mostly interested anthropologists and those working in the field of everyday history.

In these ways, investigating what happened to individuals can help expand our conception of what a historical source for Soviet era studies can be, and this expansion can set in motion other changes affecting the reconstruction, interpretation, and evaluation of that epoch.

A Theoretical Problem: What is Individuality in Soviet Times?

This question cannot be answered by eschewing the problem of defining homo sovieticus. It is evident that every totalitarian or authoritarian regime attempts to raise up a "new man" who is obliged to live and work for that regime. The Soviet system was no exception. In this essay, we will attempt to present some important historiographic positions from different perspectives and describe specific features of Soviet man.

It was Aleksandr Zinovyev who in 1982 put the concept of homo sovieticus into circulation and drew a sociocultural portrait of this homososos (a parallel name invented by Zinovyev for the same creature).1 Another extremely important text is Mikhail Geller's book Cogs in the Wheel: The Formation of Soviet Man.2 The recently begun investigations of that era's everyday life, social relations, stereotypes of thinking, and features of behaving help us understand this "new man's" Dasein and his mode of life.3 This approaches social anthropology, a discipline whose ideas can also be helpful in describing the characteristics of an individual purposefully raised under conditions of non-freedom. These characteristics are also revealed in the memoirs of that epoch's eyewitnesses and their auto-reflections.4 Studies that analyze purposefully created images of Soviet man in literature and film help us to understand how the political and party elite looked upon their task of creating this new man.5 Here one should also recall the sociological investigations that the Levada Center has been carrying out since 1989: these researches have pinned down the essential features of the new man as deliberately cultivated in the Soviet Union and successfully rejuvenated in the post-Soviet epoch. The research findings by the scientific fellows of Yuri Levada's institution permit us to say that a typical homo sovieticus displays some or all of the following tendencies: 

(1) conformity,
(2) opportunism,
(3) a quest for simplification,
(4) a predilection for hierarchy,
(5) treacherousness,
(6) a sense of uncertainty,
(7) a feeling of being part of something special,
(8) corruptibility, and
(9) the lack of an idea of the past.6

The historiographic positions outlined above paint a portrait of homo sovieticus as an individual with a split mind (a disconnect between thought and action), marked by chameleonlike qualities, a man needing to find himself at a definite point within a strict vertical hierarchy, operating in terms of a model of time and space structured by binary oppositions.

We might suppose that the easiest way to locate individuals in the Soviet period would be to look for the antipode of homo sovieticus: here the guiding assumption could be that a human being who did not match the above-mentioned features or who tried to resist their implantation in his consciousness would automatically be someone "not of this (Soviet) world" or, in other words, an "individual" or a "personality."

Nevertheless, such a proposal leaves many unanswered questions. We will mention just a few that show how broad the field of investigation is in which we can discuss the issue of what distinguishes homo sovieticus from the antipodal individual. For instance, which of the dominant sociocultural and psychological components play a decisive part in the individual's breakout from the mass of homo sovieticus or, alternately, in her or his immersion in that mass? Do those who played the part of demiurges in the Soviet system, as well as their closest confidants (who well knew the differences between black, white, and gray, or moral and amoral, and deliberately broke rules or created new ones), deserve to be called individuals as well? The consideration of these and other no-less important questions goes beyond the confines of this article. However, they do force us to define as clearly as possible the way the term "individual" will be used in the research carried out here.

In analyzing models of individual behavior and its effect on the possibility of surviving as an individual in the field of Lithuania's politics of history during the Soviet period, we will discuss what might be called one's personal and/or professional success strategy (which also includes its opposite, failure strategy) or, in other words, an individual's ability to actively participate in that era's public space and official discourse, and to demonstrate a specific kind of opposition to the rules of thought and behavior entrenched in the Soviet era (in exceptional cases, consciously and deliberately creating these rules).

The Types of Individuals Active in the Field from 1944 to 1956

In this period, the sphere of Lithuania's political history saw the emergence of several distinctive individuals who may be grouped by their types and behavior models: 

(1) demiurges of political history,
(2) interwar period authorities,
(3) idea-driven people, and
(4) bystanders of historical scholarship.7  

A Demiurge of Political History

This description is earned by the long-lasting head of the Lithuanian Communist Party's Central Committee (from 1940 to 1974) and actual leader of the republic, Antanas Sniečkus. His is an exceptional case that forces discussion of the creation of rules rather than their deconstruction from the perspective of an individual's actions in the Soviet period. Sniečkus's behavior model is expressed in a maxim that was never really kept hidden and shows a rather cynical and utilitarian relationship to reality and history: Use whatever is useful to me and the Party! Sniečkus clearly expressed this principle in his speech to the Communist Youth League conference on February 21, 1957: "We should take from the cultural inheritance that which is useful to the Socialist state."8 According to this principle, adjusting the past to today's requirements usually required misrepresenting and simplifying it into binary models of time and space (where "evil" was represented by Western civilization and the feudal and capitalist formations it spawned). A clear example of how this misrepresentation and simplification worked is provided by a conversation, as retold by the philosopher Bronius Genzelis, between Sniečkus and Juozas Žiugžda, the long-time director of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic' s Institute of History: "I'm locked in the office with the honorable Sniečkus and we're deciding what to do. You can't write a history book in a jiffy, so the first secretary tells me: take the Šapoka book and change everything to the opposite way!"9

This utilitarian attitude (described in the terminology of historians who view Sniečkus favorably as "acting cleverly and subtly") enabled him to become a "long-distance runner" who outlived his "generals," Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev, and many of his colleagues from the Lithuanian party elite. He also was one of the most important creators of Lithuanian Soviet historical policy and contributed substantially to the symbiosis of Soviet and nationalist ideologies in Soviet-era Lithuania.

Interwar-Period Authorities

A few of the interwar-period authorities who remained in Soviet Lithuania (Konstantinas Jablonskis, Ignas Jonynas, and Augustinas Janulaitis) might be called "ploughman historians."10 Their behavior in the new sociopolitical and sociocultural reality shows them to have been lost in time and space.

This description of their professional and existential position is engendered by these historians' three incompatible ways of relating to Soviet reality and to ongoing processes in the field of the politics of history: 

(1) withdrawing, not participating, being apolitical,
(2) engaging in conscious and spontaneous affronts, and
(3) attempting to influence the situation by using principles of Soviet ideology.

These contradictory actions, showing the particularly complicated situation these interwar-era authorities found themselves in during Soviet times, resulted in their being constantly watched, pushed to the margins (while their authority and intellectual capital was being exploited when needed), and feeling a real threat of repression (Jonynas). On the other hand, the presence of these personalities in the politics of history was very important in a symbolic sense. In spite of the processes of Sovietization directed toward the destruction of the old identity of Lithuanian society, that identity was kept alive through the dissemination of texts through private personal contacts. These private contacts created an intimate interpersonal space where several people could communicate "eye to eye"; it became a crucial means of transmitting the experiences of the interwar school of historiography to several generations of other investigators of the past during the five decades of non-freedom.

The Idea-driven People

The most prominent representatives of the ideological personality in the politics of history include Povilas Pakarklis and Stasys Matulaitis. The first, the director of the Institute of History from 1946 to 1948, attempted to steer it in the direction of proper historical research rather than meet Soviet ideological demands. The second tried in 1950 to revolt against Žiugžda's successful venture to create and entrench an official version about the past and to turn historical scholarship into a handmaiden of ideology. This model of behavior may be dubbed the tilting with windmills of idea-driven people.

Having chosen an inappropriate tactic (overt confrontation), with which they sought to perform a strategic task impossible to achieve under the circumstances at hand (enabling well-conducted scholarly research into the past), both personalities were pushed out of the field. It is symptomatic that looking at the situation from the fringes to which they were driven after sharp conflicts with their opponents, both Pakarklis and Matulaitis bitterly stated in their diaries that they were not able to fulfill themselves and explained why they thought this was so. Pakarklis blamed "differences in psychophysical constitution" allegedly separating him from his opponents, while Matulaitis merely observed, "I'm not fit for the sort of scholarship that is being done here."11

A Bystander of Historical Scholarship

Justas Paleckis, a high-standing party functionary who served as chairman of the Lithuanian SSR's Supreme Soviet for more than twenty years (1940-1967), entered the field of Soviet history's politics when, on his own initiative, he prepared two pamphlets: Tarybų Lietuvos kelias (1947) and Sovetskaya Litva (1949).

In both Soviet times and today, Paleckis's personality called forth divergent responses. His statements and deeds often conflicted with the general policies of the Lithuanian Communist Party's Central Committee. The behavioral model he exemplified could be tentatively described as follows: being more equal in status than the other equals allows one to engage in small-time humanism.

Paleckis tried to apply this tactic to the politics of history when, on his own initiative, judgments concerning the nineteenth-century national rebirth process and some of its phenomena were formulated in a way not fully consistent with the binary oppositions constructed by Antanas Sniečkus and his colleagues - under their pressure, this national rebirth could only be viewed negatively. During a campaign (1949-1952) in which Paleckis's deviations were criticized, it was made clear to him that, by daring to question the scheme "history = the LCP's opinion," a high-ranking party functionary risked losing his status of "being more equal among equals." This meant he could become an outsider to the study of history and politics, as well as be removed from the nomenklatura.

The Types of Individuals Active in the Field from 1956 to 1990

The situation of Lithuania's academic and cultural elite in the late Soviet period can be described as existence in a space with fairly clear game rules, a space formed by unambiguous postulates of official discourse, historiographical-ideological guidelines, and various prohibitions. The challenges and affronts coming from interwar period authorities and idea-driven people doubting the ideologically correct version of the past, the tensions of competing opinions in the public space, dramatic polemics, and the fiery criticism of "heretics" coming from the highest party echelons gradually strengthened the conviction that it was impossible to change the scholarly matrix of the Soviet politics of history by means of confrontation. This realization greatly influenced the behavior of individuals active in the field during the late Soviet period.

From 1956 to 1990, we can note the activities of several consequential individuals who undoubtedly influenced the formation of, and changes in, the identity of Soviet-era Lithuanian society. We may identify these personalities as follows in accordance with their strategies: 

(1) the god Janus,
(2) the mathematician to whom much is allowed,
(3) the divine and demonic movie director, and
(4) the poet in a golden cage.

The God Janus

When analyzing the particulars of the behavior of one of the best-known personalities of the Soviet period, the historian Juozas Jurginis, it seems as if he himself is suggesting to us that we identify him with the ancient Roman god of the beginning and the end, Janus, usually depicted with two faces turned in opposite directions.

This view of his personality is suggested by the following features of his actions in the field of Soviet-history politics: 

(1) constant challenges directed at the official discourse,
(2) attempts to land on his feet after being buffeted by the waves of criticism and self-criticism provoked by these challenges,
(3) behaviors induced by political opportunism,
(4) attempts to be in the opposition without violating the external strictures of the official discourse rulebook (spawning "heresies" while reading the classics of Marxism-Leninism), and
(5) playfulness and irony.

These behaviors, constantly played one against the other, allowed Jurginis to present many original theses dissonant with the official discourse about the limitations of historical research traditions formed in the Soviet era, to show the possibilities for a creative treatment of Marxism in investigations of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy's socioeconomic history,12 and, at the same time, to embark on an especially ambitious and risky project to create a model defining periods of Lithuanian history, in which the significant accents of the Soviet and interwar periods would peacefully coexist: a scheme of the changes in socioeconomic formations and a graphic display of the state's evolution.13 The latter project was emphatically rejected and roundly criticized, thereby clearly showing Jurginis that his strategy of constantly pushing against the limits of permissibility cannot always be part of a success story.

Who created this phenomenon of the god Janus - always playing pranks on the system? Here we must again remember the demiurge of history politics, Antanas Sniečkus. The repressive mechanisms of the Soviet system often mercilessly crushed illustrious researchers as well as people in the highest party posts. It was only the patronage of the First Secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee that helped Jurginis, who so often tottered on the brink, not to fall into the abyss. Sniečkus appreciated the important tasks Jurginis had performed before the war (from 1937 to 1939 he was a liaison between the party secretariat in Moscow and central committee members in Kaunas, and in 1939 he carried out party assignments in the United States); therefore, he did not allow the wheels of the repressive machine to destroy one of the most important opposing figures not afraid to express in public his discontent with some features of historical discourse. Was Sniečkus's attitude here due only to nostalgic memories of a "revolutionary youth"? Or was it a cleverly disguised search for alternatives to Žiugžda's fiercely propagated official discourse? There might be truth in both versions.

A Mathematician to Whom Much is Permitted

The long-serving rector (from 1958 to 1991) of Vilnius University, Jonas Kubilius, is one of very few individuals who may be designated a "long-distance runner" in the fields of both Soviet scholarship and the politics of history. (Besides Kubilius and Sniečkus, the president of the Lithuanian SSR Academy of Science, the physicist Juozas Matulis, who served from 1946 to 1984, also deserves to be mentioned in this connection.) Kubilius, who became rector after the noisy removal of Juozas Bulavas from this post (the latter served from 1956 to 1958), eventually began to proceed in the direction for which his predecessor had been so savagely attacked at the behest of the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee. It was during Kubilius's rectorship that the university's slow "Lithuanization" process was set in motion. He and his people successfully used the university's four hundredth jubilee in 1979; thus the complex of university buildings in Old Town (the embellishment of which produced a number of visual Lithuanian accents) came to be identified in Soviet Lithuanian mentality as a "place of memory," with some compromise forms of "university memory" found (Lithuanian-studies-related accents and even Jesuit and "Polish" touches in place of Soviet ideological ones). This process has been conceptually analyzed and evaluated by Alfredas Bumblauskas, the first to call attention to the effect of Kubilius's program both on the field of the politics of historical scholarship and on the historical consciousness of Soviet-era Lithuanian society.14

One reason why Kubilius's activities were successful is they followed his behavioral algorithm to the effect that all doors open to a talented person with a position: he used the symbolic capital he had amassed participating in the life of academic, social, and nomenklatura-related networks, while constantly testing the limits of what was possible; at the same time, he had partly created those limits himself. On the other hand, this is only a partial explication of Kubilius's success story; his biographers have undoubtedly not yet written the final word.

A Divine and Demonic Film Director

In the Soviet epoch, the community of researchers of the past often did not play the major role in forming Lithuanian society's attitudes toward the past or simultaneously creating specific semantic and emotional stereotypes affecting the shape of its identity. The cinema, held by Soviets to be "the most important of all art forms," did not take long to become an important Lithuanian form of art as well, and it contributed significantly to the creation of images of the past and the formation of a Lithuanian identity. In part, this is thanks to the efforts of Vytautas Žalakevičius, a director, screenwriter, and head of the Lithuanian cinema studio (1961-1974 and 1980-1991). A look at his biography15 allows the behavioral model of this director to be described thus: A provincial Jupiter can sometimes get away with more than the oxen.

Here are the creations that express this model of behavior:

(1) masterful films on politically correct themes,
(2) brilliant films experimenting on, and expanding, a Soviet-era creator's boundaries of freedom,
(3) consistent efforts to create conditions for a golden age of the Lithuanian cinema studio,
(4) a virtuoso ability to manipulate people in pursuit of goals, and
(5) painful experiences realizing the limits of the possibilities in Vilnius (as Jupiter) and in Moscow (as an ox from a Soviet province).

Žalakevičius's works include signature films, for example, Niekas nenorėjo mirti (Nobody Wanted to Die, 1965); strong stimuli (screen-writing, cooperation during filming) given to the creation of the very best Lithuanian films, for example, Jausmai (Feelings, 1968); and the creation of a context favorable to projects especially significant to society, for example, Herkus Mantas (1972). We can say even more: the Žalakevičius factor is exceedingly important to the appearance of those films we may regard as the Lithuanian nation's "places of memory," offering interpretational schemes for some of the most painful topics of twentieth-century history, such as the post-World War II period and the guerrilla war.

A Poet in a Golden Cage

There is one more individual who must be mentioned in a discussion of Soviet history politics and of Lithuanian identity transformations.

As in the case of Rector Vytautas Kubilius, the life of the poet Justinas Marcinkevičius is still full of challenges to researchers examining his activities and biographical twists and turns. Marcinkevičius in particular has elicited two radically opposed evaluations of his existential attitude and his work. The palette ranges from accusations of complicity with the Soviet government and its special services to insights into his significant contribution to the community of contemporary writers and to forms of national identity.16 

There is one more threshold that biographers of this personality will have to step over: to a large segment of late Soviet and post-Soviet society, Marcinkevičius is a symbol of great moral authority, which automatically burdens the process of analysis, interpretation, and deconstruction. This threshold must be crossed both in the course of gathering and verifying data and of interpreting and presenting them to society.

Although these questions are of primary importance in analyzing this individual's actions and his survival in the field of Lithuania's politics of history, even if they are not fully answered, it is, I believe, clear that Marcinkevičius's strategy was "I call upon my nation... !" The fact that he realized this in the public sphere and official discourse during Soviet times could be explained, not only by mutually resourceful tactics (both on the poet's and on the system's side) that enabled both sides to pursue their goals, but also by the unexpected emergence of the talent factor. To both the "poet in the golden cage" and the supervisors of his creations - who helped create this situation by executing the project of melding Sovietism and nationalism in a symbiosis conceived by the party elite - this factor produced a surprise when Mardnkevičius's dramatic trilogy (Mindaugas; Mažvydas; and Katedra; 1968-1977) and other works were read and received by most readers in a way that was not previously expected from the viewpoint of the Soviet system's logic.

A Place for the Symbiosis of Soviet Ideology and Nationalism. "Footprints" of Personalities?

One of the most important tasks faced by the Soviet Union's political leadership after the Baltic States had been occupied was to demolish the traditional interpretative context (the grand narrative about past, present, and future; the constellations of established value systems and traditional religious postulates) in which the societies of these states had lived during the interwar independence period. The Soviet strategy and its tactics of destroying this traditional interpretative context embraced people, institutions, and ideas. Lithuanian historiography has already and repeatedly described the successes and failures of this strategy in destroying and/or "reeducating" the old elite and in forming a new one, in breaking down vertical as well as horizontal social ties by mobilizing fear, and in shattering society's existing infrastructure (schools, churches, and organizations) for the purpose of creating new institutions.

What is important to emphasize is that, in performing these tasks, both on the level of the whole Soviet Union and that of the individual republics, a new hybrid of Soviet ideology and nationalism was created, one that preserved some essential elements of the earlier grand narrative about the past, present, and future of the Lithuanian nation.17 

We will proffer several examples short of a comprehensive analysis but sufficient to permit discussion of an initially improbable symbiosis of ideas and ideologies in the field of the politics of history:

(1)    Soviet history textbooks and academic syntheses presented a grand narrative of the Lithuanian SSR's past and present, in which semantic features highlighted in the interwar academic tradition (for example, the importance of independent statehood) were awkwardly combined with theses about the modeling of Lithuanian history into spaces and periods, a thesis that served the Communist ideology.18 

(2)    The accumulated semantic content and emotional energies of artistic phenomena originating in the Soviet period and eventually becoming "places of memory" were often interpreted by society using the conceptual and ideological codes of  the interwar era, not just in Soviet terms. Examples include the dramatic trilogy of Justinas Marcinkevičius; the history film Herkus Mantas, directed in 1972 by Marijonas Giedrys; and the fresco The Seasons, created in 1974-1985 by Petras Repšys for the vestibule of the Lithuanian Studies Center of Vilnius University. (The emergence of this fresco in the Vilnius University ensemble of buildings must be deemed an integral part of a broader phenomenon already touched upon in our discussion of Kubilius's program of "Lithuanianizing" the University of Vilnius).

(3)    The Soviet-era process of recognizing cultural heritage involved looking at monuments from various historical perspectives, the combination of which created a symbiosis of a traditional interpretative context and an evaluation based on political ideologies.19 

(4)    The process of toponymic politics (creating a system of Vilnius street names) also shows traces of the use and coexistence of two distinct sets of past images (interwar and Soviet) in shaping the face of a Soviet republic's capital city from 1944 to 1989.

As already stated, the above-mentioned accents do not allow us to reconstruct an all-embracing model of the way the politics of Soviet history worked or even to explain its logic. But the coexistence or even symbiosis of particular conceptual and ideological contradictions allows us to assert that the genesis and social distribution of certain phenomena cannot be explained without reference to the activities of individuals (or, otherwise put, their creative relationship to the reality at hand) and without a determination of the success (or failure) of the strategies these individuals used in the public space and the official discourse of their times.

Translated by Mykolas Drunga

1    Zinoviev, Homo sovetikus.
2    Geller, Mashina i vintiki.
3    What may be considered a classical position of Western historiography in this respect is expressed in Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism.
4    In the Lithuanian context, see the published memoirs of Vytautas Kubilius, edited by Žėkaitė and Sprindytė.
5    See Clark, The Soviet Novel; Attwood, Red Women on the Silver Screen; Haynes, New Soviet Man.
6    See Kudryavtseva, "Chelovek nemenyayemyy."
7    For a broader discussion of these four strategies of conduct see: Švedas, Matricos nelaisvėje, 79-102; 129-144.
8    Sniečkus, 1957 m. vasario mėn. 21 d. komjaunimo plenumo kalba.
9    Aurimas Švedas's conversation with Bronius Genzelis, "Man marksizmas rūpėjo," 109.
10  See Gieda and Švedas, "Kuo svarbi istoriografijos istorija?" 42-47. 12
11  See Pakarklis, Dienoraštis and Matulaitis, Dienoraštis.
12   Jurginis, Baudžiavos įsigalėjimas Lietuvoje.
13   Jurginis, Lietuvos TSR istorija: vadovėlis vidurinėms mokykloms.
14   Bumblauskas, "Vilniaus universitetas," 225-262.
15   Tapinas, Laiškanešys, pasiklydęs dykumoje. Written in a journalistic style, this is currently his most comprehensive biography.
16   Two extreme examples of (auto)reflective expressions are the apologetic attitude of Valentinas Sventickas toward Marcinkevičius and the extremely critical stances exhibited by the intellectuals around the journal Naujasis Židinys-Aidai. See Sventickas, Apie Justiną Marcinkevičių and "Justino Marcinkevičiaus darna. Pašnekesys Naujojo Židinio-Aidų redakcijoje," 155-160.
17    For a viewpoint originating in the Western academic tradition, see Kemp, Nationalism and Communism in Eastern Europe. Newly formed views in Lithuanian historiography are found in Laurinavičius, Epochas jungiantis nacionalizmas.
18   For more about this, see Švedas, Matricos nelaisvėje, 183-189.
19  See Vaitkuvienė, Kulturos palikimo įpaveldinimo procesai.


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