- January 18, 2013
The Museum of January Uprising – only in the world
In a few days – January 22 – Lithuania is going to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the outburst of January Uprising. In that year The Temporary Government in Warsaw asked Poles, Lithuanians and Russians to fight for the”common liberation” under the banner of the Eagle, Chase and Archangel.
The January Insurrection was another uprising of Poles people against the Republic of Czarist Russia. It was a struggle for national liberation but it also may be characterized as a social and political revolution since it referred to the equality of all citizens and the idea of social justice – the abolition of serfdom: “ (…) On the first day of the uprising the Central Committee of the National Poland announce all the people, without any distinction of faith, family and origin, to be free and equal citizens of the country.
The land which has been farming on the rights of rent or serfdom becomes, from that moment, the property of the country, the eternal inheritance. Aggrieved owners will be rewarded with the general funds of the State … Fight Poles, Lithuanians and Russians, fight! The time of our “common liberation” is now! (…)”.
In Lithuania the division into „white” – the nobility and the “red” – the peasantry was clearly marked, but at the same time the boundaries were not so obvious since the insurgents were led by the people who were from the nobility consisted mainly of peasants. This division – into white and red – may be also seen in the exhibitions in Uprising Museum 1863 in Podbrzezie (Paberžė), in a small village in Kiejdański region. It is so interesting that the only such museum in Lithuania (and probably in the whole world) is – to put it mainly – in such small town.
– The museum, a church, a cemetery, some houses and several people, including children.. That’s all – said Alina Galvanauskiene, the executive of the Museum. She describes her village to us, there is no school and even a shop. What is more, none of the bus goes there.
However, many tourists still go there (from different sides: from Ibutonai, Užupė or Miegėnai). There is not only a unique museum of January Uprising but also museum dedicated to the Father Stanisław (Olgierd Michał Dobrowolski, lit. Algirdas Mykolas Dobrovolskis) from Order of friars of Capuchin. Like his great predecessor – Father Antoni Mackiewicz (lit. Antanas Mackevicius), who became the head of the local formation of the January Uprising, Father Stanislaw, during the Soviet occupation, led his fight against the communist regime for the spiritual and national liberation of Lithuania. He also took care of drug addicted, homeless people and alcoholics as well.
We are going to Podbrzezie from Vilnius on the eve of the anniversary of January Uprising in order to visit the places connected with that times. Because it is so freeze and snowy, we chose the way through Kowno, Kiejdany and Miegėnai. For the last 4 kilometers we went almost gropingly since the only determinant of the rout was the rut of snow left by passing-by cars. After a few minutes, we stay in front of the sign “Paberžė”.
We are almost in our destination. We have just passed another signs which informed us about dangerous part of the road, and the next sign said that we were going into the area of “The Buildings of January Uprising 1863”. From the steep hill we are coming to the narrow bridge of Niewiaża River. On the left side we left the church Najświętszej Maryi Panny, the new and old rectory, and also a cross which is situated on a stone. According to the sign “The Museum Of January Uprising 1863” we turn the way and see museum building hidden behinds the trees.
In a moment, we will see beautiful, renewed museum building, which was the court of baron Stanisław Szyling who clearly supported the January insurrection in Lithuania. Here in 1863 was the command centre where the head was a priest from local parish of Antoni Mackiewicz. That was the first and also one of the most active formation of fighting with the occupants.
We can see a palace from which Mackiewicz in March 20, 1863 led to the fight its formation consisting of 250 people. They had guns and scythes. They fought for the freedom so that tsar soldiers could not defeat them. Unfortunately, the insurgents did not have much chances of winning. After the uprising, many of them had to go to the Russian army or, like Antoni Mackiewicz, killed in Kowno and Vilnius. Lots of the insurgents died on a battle field. We do not forget about that events thanks to the exhibition in Podbrzeże.
We are welcomed by the executive of the museum Alina Galvanauskiene and by the founder Regina Galvanauskienie. When some years ago, Regina’s husband said that they are going to live at Father Stanisław in Podbieże, she was surprised and thought that it was a joke. That young lady, who is a musician, had never thought that this moment will change all her life or rather starts a new chapter.
– It is a wondrous place! – said Regina.
Although the museum is opened for some years, everything changed in 2010, when, thanks to the funds from Norwegian people and EU, we managed to renovated the court of Szyling. We also were able to make this exhibition. It is in five rooms and consists of different things from January insurrection, souvenirs from Father Stanisław but also paraffin lamp.
– We have this lamp here, because it was discovered by Polish men, Ignacy Łukasiewicz. He stronglu supported the insurgents – explains Alina Galvanauskienė.
However, the most valuable thing is the Missal of Antomi Mackiewicz. The way in which we obtained it is a long history.
-I was going to open an exhibition so I went to Szawel in order to find any souvenirs connected with Mackiewicz, Podbrzezie and January Uprising. When I was searching the museum documents I saw the photograph of the first page of the Missal where was the signature of the priest – said Regina. In that moment, she thought that this book has to be in her museum in the future. However, it turned out that there is only a photo of Missal, nobody knows where the original version is.
– I was said that Missal may have been fired – said the curator.
With that feeling Ragina came back home. She said about everything to Father Stanisław. He advised her to check whether this Missal is among old prayer books whiach are stored at the attic.
– I found the Missal there. I still do not know how it is possible that this book was not damaged. When I asked Father Stanisław how it happened in that way, he only says: “good people laid the book in an appropriate place” – said Regina Galvanauskienė.
Although we can find some things which belongs to Mackiewicz, some copies of Matejko’s paintings, museum collections are not valuable. However, museum in Podbrzezie it is not only the display cases and exhibits but also the whole institution. So that people, including foreign tourists, willingly visit this place.
– We have guests from Russia, Israel and of course from Poland – said the executive of the museum.
In museum we organize different workshops for teenagers: historical but also artistic, and then the participants usually leave their works in museum. So that, the institution can organize several exhibitions connected with the subject of January Uprising. On the loft there is a conference room where are organized scientific and historic meetings. Although there are no hotels, we are also held mutli-day events.
– In the old rectory, where is a room of Father Stanisław, we have several guests rooms and day room – says Regina.
There rooms, like everything in Podbrzezie, are unique. The guests putting fire to the fireplace, take care themselves of heat, they prepare food on their own, and they sleep in old, wooden beds. Although there are such conditions, we have lots of guests.
– We already book people for Summers since later all dates are occupied – admits Regina. In her opinion, what tempts people here is “the connection with history”, that they can touch at every turn, beautiful landscape with the Nieważa River and still present the soul of Farther Stanisław.
-Stanisław never wanted to transform everything into „exposures” after his death. He even hated the word: exhibition. He would like this place to be still vibrant, to be full of people! – says Regina Galvanauskienė.
And I think that such is this place. Tomorrow (Friday) the mutli-day workshop of alcoholics anonymous is going to take place who – according to the thoughts of Father Stanisław – would like to be free again, would like to break up with that addiction.
And this is the place where 150 years ago, Father Antoni Mackiewicz inspired and led people liberate themselves from the Tsarism. So today thai is a great inspiration to fight for “freedom of soul”.
Tłumaczenie Diana Omiljaniuk w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Diana Omiljaniuk the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.