Peace and Historical Identities: A look at Lithuania’s Culture

Photo illustrating the news item

On the 8th of June, the Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation invited a small group of students and staff and faculty members to visit a unique place in the middle of the forest in the countryside of Lithuania.

This forest has long served as a protector of the painful memories associated with the struggle for freedom and independence in Lithuania. Today, this location stands as a memorial, honoring the Lithuanian freedom fighters and serving as a symbolic site where two partisans tragically lost their lives.

Additionally, in 1950, a sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding a baby in her arms was erected there, initiated by Liucija Auškalnienė as a tribute to her late husband, the partisan Juozas Auškalnis-Kudirka. Nowadays, a designated area has been created as an outdoor church, providing a space for the annual commemoration and tribute to the battle’s victims, accompanied by a solemn mass service.

During the trip, the participants were encouraged to immerse themselves in the stories of Lithuanian resistance against the Soviet occupation. A Lithuanian student from the group shared her family’s story, shedding light on the complexities of the internal conflicts related to generational trauma and conflicting narratives from the resistance era. The activities focused on reconciliation and discussions pertaining to victimization and collective trauma. Following the storytelling and conversations, the participants gathered for a shared lunch in this sacred natural setting. It was a wonderful opportunity to introduce LCC students to local history, societal struggles, and stories of healing. A second-year student, Solomiia Melnyk stated that for her the trip “was a nice experience to dive deeper into Lithuanian history, and being in that place brought a sense of the reality to the events from the stories. And overall, I enjoyed the trip, nature, and company a lot.”

The staff at the Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation looks forward to organizing similar trips to Šarkiškių forest for larger groups from the LCC community.

24 Jul 2023