Druskininkai, Lithuania: Museum of Soviet Sculpture

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Grūtas Park

A Museum of Soviet Sculpture

Druskininkai, Lithuania

Photos by Stephen Hartshorne

Throughout most of the former Soviet Republics of the Cold War Era, the giant statues of the leaders and the heroes of the Soviet Union were enthusiastically reduced to rubble or recycled into more useful projects. When Viliumas Malinauskas of Grūtas, Lithuania, saw a pile of these old statues, he had the idea of creating a park to display them, and to create a memorial to the suffering of the Lithuanian people under the domination of the Soviets, during a time when the country lost one third of its population. Many were unceremoniously herded into box cars and shipped to Siberia. The very old and the very young generally died along the way.

Besides the monumental sculptures, Grūtas Park has barbed wire and guard towers reminiscent of the Soviet gulags, and many exhibits showing how pervasive were the attacks that the Soviets made on any Lithanian nationalism, and on independent thinking in general. This amazing museum tells a story of total oppression that should not be forgotten.

This sculpture of workers and fighters weighs 110 tons. At right is our guide, Asta Balciunaite.
This sculpture of workers and fighters weighs 110 tons. At right is our guide, Asta
Balciunaite.
Hundreds of thousands of Lithanian families were herded into boxcars and shipped to Siberia.
Hundreds of thousands of Lithanian families were herded into boxcars and shipped to Siberia.
The camp has guard towers, barbed wire and a moat, reminiscent of the Soviet gulags.
The camp has guard towers, barbed wire and a moat, reminiscent of the Soviet gulags.
A memorial to Lithuanian Communists.A memorial to Lithuanian Communist partisans
This is a statue dedicated to Maryt? Melnikait?, a partisan tortured and killed by the Nazis. The Soviets later needed a Lithuanian hero, so they gave her a Lithuanian name.
This is a statue dedicated to Marytė Melnikaitė, a partisan
tortured and killed by the Nazis.
Recreation of a meeting room at a Soviet 'indoctrination camp'
Recreation of a meeting room at a Soviet ‘indoctrination camp’

 

Busts and reliefs of Lenin
Busts and reliefs of Lenin
A rare seated Lenin. Usually he was shown standing up.
A rare seated Lenin. Usually he was shown standing up.
Standing Stalin
Standing Stalin
Grutas Park also has a vast library of Soviet propaganda.Gr?tas Park also has a vast library of Soviet propaganda.
Soviet cavalry in the Great Patriotic War
Soviet cavalry in the Great Patriotic War
The names of 1300 Lithanians murdered by the KGB are inscribed on the stones of the Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, which has many moving exhibits about the torture, murder and deportation of Lithuanians. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the Museum.
The names of 1300 Lithanians murdered by the KGB are inscribed on the stones of the Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, which has many moving exhibits about the torture, murder and deportation of Lithuanians. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the Museum.

 

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Stephen Hartshorne
Stephen Hartshorne is the former associate editor of GoNOMAD.com. He writes a blog called ArmchairTravel about books he finds at flea markets and rummage sales. He teaches in local public schools in the Pioneer Valley and lives in Sunderland, Mass.
Stephen Hartshorne

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