You are here

In the wake of war: the impact of mass population displacement on social and cultural developments in Soviet Lithuania

The successive occupations of Lithuania by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin were accompanied by mass murder, deportations and the elimination of its large Jewish community in the Holocaust, giving the horrors of World War II a particular intensity. Moreover, the fighting continued after 1945 with the anti-Soviet insurrection, crushed through more massive deportations and forced collectivization in 1948-1951. Postwar population exchanges depleted the cities of their long established Polish communities. As the postwar reconstruction gained pace, ethnic Lithuanians from the countryside – the only community to remain after the war in significant numbers – were mobilized to work in the cities. They were channeled by the system into factory and university alike, creating a modern urban society, with new elites who were given a carefully circumscribed space in which they could promote national culture. This massive and sudden displacement from the country to the city occurred in parallel with the return of Lithuanians from deportation, creating a sharply divided consciousness in Soviet Lithuanian society. Describing the experience of displacement, understood as not just deportation, but also collectivization, melioration, urbanization and mobilization as a universal feature of Soviet modernization, this paper traces the emergence of a discourse of displacement in Soviet Lithuanian culture that prepared the ground for the explosive reception of deportee memoirs in the late 1980s.
Dr. Violeta Davoliute-Opgenorth is a senior researcher at the Department of Contemporary History, Vilnius University. She has published widely on the cultural history of Lithuania and Eastern Europe and is the author of *The Making and Breaking of Soviet Lithuania: Memory and Modernity in the Wake of War, published by Routledge in 2013.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015. 12:00 PM


Encina Hall West, Room 400


Stanford University Libraries, CREEES Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies




Open to Stanford affiliates.