Man patinka Lietuva

I like Lithuania – a visitor's point of view


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Veterans paraded in Kaunas outside war museum in Unity Square

When I was living for a few weeks in Kaunas (attending VDU for a Language and Culture Summer School in 2008) I noticed that on certain Sundays a group of army veterans, wearing pre-war uniforms, solemnly paraded outside the Vytautaus Magnus War Museum in Unity Square.

I took several photographs of them marching and afterwards – although one or two of them had to be persuaded to pose for me. I also caught up with a couple of them in the nearby coffee shop opposite my flat where they were more relaxed.

This was ten years ago so I wonder how many of them are still around and whether or not they still parade. It was nice to see little bit of history.

I also realised that the clock tower had a set of bells and through a contact got permission to go up and watch them adjust the clock mechanism.

The clock tower includes the Liberty Bell, a gift from Lithuanians in America, and copied from the Philadelphia liberty bell. It was installed in 1922 and was rung for the first time on Independence Day 1922.

The 35-bell carillon in the tower of the was completed in Belgium in 1935 and installed two years later. Bell music from the tower was first played in 1937.

 


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General Jonas Žemaitis

This statue stands outside the ministry of defence in Vilnius (there is also one in Kaunas) and the national military academy has been re-named after him. But what do we actually know about this man also known as Vytautas, Luke, Matthew, the Silent, who was elected a Brigadier General and posthumously as a President? 

Like much of Lithuania’s recent history under multiple occupations it seems there are gaps and differing views about this complex “hero”. It’s known he served in the soviet army then surrendered to the Nazis before joining the partisans.

Read more about him here on the Defending History blog (which argues he has been raised to prominence by the” cult of the partisans”. See post on partisans)

or here.

Make up your own mind.

 


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Autism “locked in” stunt backfires

Looks like a Lithuanian women acted to get stunt cancelled. Good for her!

Mike the Psych's Blog

The Caudwell Children Charity (founded by phone millionaire John Caudwell) has abandoned its “Locked in for Autism” stunt after criticism from people on an online petition which said that it was offensive to suggest that’s how people with an autistic spectrum disorder had to live their lives.

Alexis Ragaliauskas has autism and set up the petition saying “It’s very dehumanising and insulting. Caudwell Children need to get with the times. They are saying autism is like being trapped in a box which is offensive – quite a lot of autistic people throughout history have been restrained and put in boxes”.

Tesco is a big supporter of such causes and a member of staff at the Burnley branch volunteered to stay in the glass box for 50 hours (see my post).

Tesco has now withdrawn its support for the stunt. Whether because of the petition or perhaps the…

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Artist gone missing?

One of the nice things about visiting a city regularly is that you can catch up on old friend and acquaintances  – if you can find them.

I’ve already posted about the Piccolo Canopi (Little Hooves) restaurant disappearing and the Taste of Lithuania cafe bistro.

This time it wasn’t an eating place I was looking for but an artist’s studio on the corner of šv Kazimierz g. where I met Cica, the artist, playing a vinyl record by Dave Stewart and Candy Dufler over and over again, particularly the haunting track “Lily was here”.

But no sign of Cica and certainly no Lily. The studio was now a fashion design studio. I went inside and asked but the staff didn’t know where he’d gone. I eventually found him on Facebook when I got home so hope he is well?

It’s perhaps no surprise he has gone as the area is undergoing a process of gentrification.

I’d already noticed the refurbished buildings next to the derelict church on Savičiaus g.

Then as I turned the corner and walked up Bokšto g. towards the old artillery bastion (basteja) I saw new walls rising above the old ones.

Then the banner advertising the new development. Very upmarket indeed. (And to think I once contemplated buying an apartment in Vilnius)

So just a reminder of how the studio used to look. Part of the quirkiness in Vilnius that seems to be fast disappearing.


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War with Russia – a book worth reading

Here’s a book worth reading if you are at all interested in Russia’s aggressive behaviour towards former soviet union countries on its borders and its threat to world peace. 

Written by someone who knows what they are talking about (General Sir Richard Shirreff was Deputy Supreme Commander Europe for NATO) it’s a Tom Clancy type novel.

The action starts in Ukraine with the kidnapping of US trainers by Russian special forces and attacks on US jets by Russian fighters but soon moves to the Baltics demonstrating the high risks faced by these countries.

NATO is seen as largely ineffectual initially as its members have continually cut back on defence budgets or not contributed their agreed share to it.

However due respect is paid to the resistance movements in the Baltics referred to as the Forest Brothers

Without spoiling the plot for readers this book is bang up-to-date (it even has Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the opposition in the UK) but will make uncomfortable reading.