• September 19, 2018
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Bumblauskas: Tomaszewski does not have much in common with Piłsudski

We are dealing with a conflict between Polish and Lithuanian ethnic nationalism. However, no one shapes a civic nationalizm, which based on other principles –  he said in an interview with prof. Alfredas Bumblauskas.

Antoni Radczenko: Once, you called the Polish-Lithuanian conflict of the 20s of the 20th century a civil war…

Alfredas Bumblauskas: I did not say it directly. I said that in this conflict you can see signs of a civil war. I do not know if the definition corresponds to the term of those events. In order to answer to this question, we need a discussion. In fact, we have absolutely no data on number of people, for example, from Żmudż who were fighting on the side of Żeligowski. And we know such examples. Two brothers  Tadas Ivanauskas fought on the side of Żeligowski.  It means that the civil war was in the family. In the Narutowicz family, we have an identical situation. Once again,  I do not know if it can be called a civil war, but the division went through the families. And it is worth considering.

Antoni Radczenko: Exactly. As for the present, when we have been talking about the unresolved problems of the national minorities in Lithuania for 30 years, are not we dealing with the same civil war only in a different form?

Alfredas Bumblauskas: I partly agree with this. Speaking of those problems, of course, with a certain dose of irony, I always give some example. Poles are not allowed to use the letters “W” in surnames, but it is not forbidden, for example, to use this letter in public spaces to mark toilets. So, those who fight with “W” may first take it off from public toilets. We are dealing with a variant of Lithuanian patriotism created in the interwar period. On the other hand, Tomaszewski is basically an endek ( the National Democrat), that is, he continues the interwar Polish ideological model, and he in fact does not really have much in common with Piłsudski, let alone Jerzy Giedroyc.

Antoni Radczenko: How can we end this war? You also said that there is no institution in Lithuania that would deal with the development of a government strategy towards national minorities.

Alfredas Bumblauskas: The liquidation of the Department of the National Communities and Exiles was the absolute innocence. In my opinion, the government and all parties would have to be interested in the fact that such an institution would not became another bureaucratic entity, but work on developing some strategy.

Antoni Radczenko: A few years ago, the department was reborn …

Alfredas Bumblauskas: Yes, but I know and hear very little about its activities. That is where the problem lies. The institution does exist, yet we do not know if it is doing something.

Antoni Radczenko: Perhaps the problem with stereotypes exists because we have large gaps, for example with school teaching. We still learn names and dates, but we do not teach how to understand the historical processes. So, we know when the battle of Grunwald took place, but we can not explain how and why it happened and what effects it had?

Alfredas Bumblauskas: Maybe it would improve the situation, because when people start thinking about processes is something positive.  In my view, the problem of teaching history is different. In history classes you have to learn how to work with the source and how to distinguish the truth from the lie. The habit of distinguishing between false and truth is have to be shaped throughout the entire school period. Frankly speaking, people can not do it so far. For instance, someone unprepared can reject top-down imposed tendencies when they are simply false. We have a good example. We know the famous sentence of Tacitus about the amber of Aists and we start to be proud that we are heirs of the ‘amber civilization’. Although Tacitus clearly writes: Aistas are surprized that they receive something for amber. So we are dealing with the same situation as with the Indians in America, who were surprized that in exchange for something they receive a mirror. Why do not we quote it? And the Lithuanian myth is created on the basis of a misreading of Tacitus. It is influenced by the immense pride of the pagan past. Now there are ideas for the recognition of pagans as an official religion. And on the basis of Karbauskis and his “peasants”we see the prevalence of this pagan myth. Why do we need this myth? To prove that the culture of Aists (i.e. the old Lithuanian culture) was destroyed by Polish priests. There are three errors in this sentence. Firstly, there was no Baltic empire and its golden age. Secondly, after baptism Lithuania began to write in Belarusian, not in Polish. Thirdly, as we see, the priests here are also not involved in anything.

Translated by Irena Lehenka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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