• June 25, 2012
  • 254

Anti-monumental pre-election rhetoric of the right wing

Fot. Marian Paluszkiewicz

Lithuanian nationalists from the extreme right Lithuanian Nationalist Union (Lithuanian: Lietuvių tautininkų sąjunga, LTS) and the Union of the National Youth (Polish: Związek Młodzieży Narodowej, ZMN) demand removing the Mother and the Son’s Heart mausoleum, in which Marshal Piłsudski’s heart is buried, from Rasos Cemetery. According to the leaders of those organizations, the mausoleum in Rasos is an “ideological monument” around which the “pantheon of traitors to the nation” is formed.

Last Sunday the nationalists organized a campaign and demanded taking Piłsudki’s tomb out to Warsaw. Instead of staging their demonstration in Rasos Cemetery, they held it on the Green Bridge which features four sets of sculptures, presenting workers, farmers, students and soldiers, coming from the times of the Lithuanian SSR.

The four figures by Lithuanian masters of sculpture – Juozas Mikėnas, Juozas Kėdainis, Bronius Pundzius, Bernardas Bučas, Petras Vaivad, Napoleonas Petrulis and Bronius Vyšniauskas – are on the list of the monuments preserved by the state. However, the nationalists consider all of them together with Piłsudski’s tomb in Rasos reminders of the occupation of Lithuania and demand removing them from the country.

— What we can see, are rusty invaders. It is completely absurd. Are there monuments commemorating invaders in any European capital? Is there any monument to the SS? Or the Wehrmacht? Are there anywhere any painful monuments offending national feelings which the authorities do not allow to remove? Those four figures remind us of those really sad days from the history of our nation. We think that there is really no place for them here – said Julius Panka, the leader of the Union of the National Youth and an organizer of nationalist marches in Vilnius which traditionally take place on the anniversary of signing the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, on March 11. Panka called for removal of the sculptures from the Green Bridge and Piłsudski’s tomb from Rasos Cemetery.

The leader of the Lithuanian Nationalist Union, MP Gintaras Songaila issued the same appeal as in his opinion there is no place for such monuments in independent Lithuania.
— As far as the mausoleum in Rasos is concerned, there was no proper burial. It is an ideological place – informed MP Songaila. It is not the first verbal attack of the Lithuanian nationalists against the mausoleum in Rasos. The leaders of the parties and other nationalists, also from circles of scientists, tried to convince the Lithuanian public opinion that in Lithuania there is no place for Piłsudski’s mausoleum and called for handing it over to Poland. We also want to remind you that last week the Mother and the Son’s Heart mausoleum was desecrated. Some vandals covered its tombstone with red paint and on the paving around the tomb they painted the Columns of Gediminas. The Lithuanian authorities absolutely condemned the act of vandalism.

Meanwhile the police still cannot find the perpetrators. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that the cemetery is not protected from vandals or grave robbers plundering the necropolis in search of metal crosses or tombstones to sell them for scrap in any way. The cemetery is not even under video surveillance. The only “security workers” of the cemetery during the daytime are the souvenir sellers and crowds of tourists visiting the place. However, in the evening and at night the historic necropolis and the section of Polish soldiers in Piłsudski’s mausoleum are put in risk of being destroyed by vandals or scrap sellers. The sculptures on the Green Bridge are also very often the target of vandals’ attacks, however the video surveillance of the town and of the nearby hotels and offices helps to protect them; and additionally, the sculptures themselves – at least officially – are on the list of the monuments preserved by the state.

Unlike Piłsudski’s monument, the Lithuanian nationalists do not want to take the Green Bridge sculptures out of Lithuania. They want them in the country and suggest transferring them to Grūtas Park near Druskininkai. Most of the Soviet monuments were brought to the place in which there is also a museum of the Soviet times.

Meanwhile, the local authorities of Vilnius with the approval of the Department of Cultural Heritage are going to start renovation of the Green Bridge sculptures as their condition is getting worse. Before the coming parliamentary election, those are not only the extreme right and nationalist parties which use the anti-monumental rhetoric. Recently, the honorary president of a conservative party namely the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Member of the European Parliament Vytautas Landsbergis issued an appeal to the authorities of Połąga to transfer the graves of the Soviet soldiers killed in the Second World War and also the monument from the town centre near the remote Orthodox church. Połąga authorities, headed by Landsbergis’s fellow party members, said that they will consider that but unlike in the case of the scandalous dismantling of the monument of the Soviet soldier (also known as The Bronze Soldier) in the centre of Tallinn, they want to do it “in a civilized way” and with the approval of the Russian embassy.

Source:  http://kurierwilenski.lt/2012/06/25/antypomnikowa-przedwyborcza-retoryka-prawicy/

Tłumaczenie Małgorzata Mitoraj w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Małgorzata Mitoraj within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

Related post

White-and-red march through Vilnius and a rally in schools’ defence. ‘Poles want normalcy’.

A two thousandth white-and-red march passed through the streets of Vilnius on Saturday, March 23. Participants…

Issues of Polish education have been raised in front of parents and teachers.

The discussion on current issues in Polish education in Lithuania was initiated by the Forum of…

He was a Jarosław for barely a year. The court took away the letter ‘Ł’ from…

Jarosław Wołkonowski sought the right to the original spelling of his name since 1992. The District…