- August 17, 2016
Rasos Cemetery – a ‘must see’ while visiting Vilnius
Rasos Cemetery is one of the obligatory points while visiting Vilnius. It is one of the four Polish national necropolis; places where many of our outstanding compatriots and soldiers fighting in 1919-1920 and 1939-1944 were buried.
Today, the cemetery is known primarily because of the mausoleum of Mother and Son’s Heart, where the Jozef Pilsudski’s heart was placed next to his mother, Mary. Pilsudski himself had such a request – so after his death his heart was close to his soldiers in Vilnius.
“I do not know if they will want me buried in Wawel. Let! But let my closed heart be hidden in Vilnius, where my soldiers are, who in April 1919 gave me a gift as to their chief …’
Plate on the gravestone was imported from Volyn. In the cemetery, first wife and sister of Pilsudski were also buried.
Mausoleum is located in the middle of soldier lodgings and most of all volunteers fighting for Vilnius in the years 1919-1920 and soldiers trying in 1944 to capture the city in Operation Gate of Dawn rest there.
The cemetery was founded in 1769 (before the first partition of Poland), and was officially declared by the authorities of Vilnius in 1801. After the Second World War the cemetery was a forbidden place, and was officially closed (new burials were banned) in 1965.
The cemetery complex includes:
Old Rossa (1769);
New Rossa (1847)
Military Cemetery (1920) and the mausoleum Mother and Son’s Heart (1936).
Walking around the old part of the cemetery, we can go back in time. A walk through the alleys reminded us of visiting Paris Montmartre cemetery. Beautiful monuments, some looking like a work of art, the location on a small hill; it all creates a momentous atmosphere. After entering the top of the hill we can look at the lower part of the cemetery, where we will see thousands of tombstones located unevenly and in considerable chaos.
Unfortunately – in contrast to the French capital, here we can see the passage of time and lack of proper care. Only a part of the mausoleum of the Marshal is really neat. It’s hard to understand as the Polish authorities should take greater care of the place, either formally or informally, using the Lithuanian non-governmental organizations associated with the Poles living in Lithuania. Otherwise, in a few years, only a big historic ruin will remain there.
Among the beautiful monuments, we may find the resting place of many famous Poles, including: Joachim Lelewel, Ludwik Kondratowicz (a pseudonym Vladislav Syrokomla) and many intellectuals, historians and architects.
More: Relation of Vilnius Cemetery on Rossie
Translated by Aleksandra Nowakowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.