OPEN ARCHIVES OF KAUNAS

OPEN ARCHIVES OF KAUNAS

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The Zoo


Kęstutis: "We were living at Gričiupio Street, where the current KTU student campus is located.

*Kęstutis*: "We were living at Gričiupio Street, where the current KTU student campus is located. Previously, it was a village on the outskirts of the city, however now it is almost the city centre. It was an international neighbourhood. My best friends were German-born children. Also, there lived many Russians and some Poles. Of course, there were Lithuanians, too. There was a zoo nearby, around 300–400 meters away. It was very interesting to go there through the fence, of course, without a ticket. Once, together with my friends, among whom I was the youngest, we decided to hunt ducks with bows at the zoo. I was waiting on the hill while my friends were at the bottom. They returned very quickly because someone was chasing them. We came back home without our bows. Probably I was very scared because even today I remember that fear."

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1997

Russian Aesthetic Education Centre


A.K.: Russian Aesthetic Education Centre later received the name of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky.

*A.K.*: Russian Aesthetic Education Centre later received the name of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky. It is still operating in V. Krėvės prospect, not far from the shopping centre used to be called Pasimatymas. I guess most of its visitors back then were children from the neighboring Russian school No. 20, even though later I attended the Lithuanian Pilėnai school. Probably it was my father’s initiative for me to attend all these extracurricular activities and have someone to practice my native language with, yet for me it has been (and I hope that it still remains) an exceptional place of artistic education, even though when I look back at this building, sad thoughts come to my mind. This place is like an island among the gray multi-storey buildings of Dainava, where people would create things, while we talked with teachers and fellow students in Russian.

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The Singing Fountain


Alvydas: Some time ago, before the monument for Darius and Girėnas, there was a “singing fountain”.

*Alvydas: *Some time ago, before the monument for Darius and Girėnas, there was a “singing fountain”. Everyone really liked it... (2014)

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Lions of the War Museum


Žilvinas: “My brother and I, we are twins.

*Žilvinas*: “My brother and I, we are twins. We used to be very naughty children and to get some rest, our grandma would bring us for a walk to visit the lions. On one of such occasion, we found a photographer who took a photo of us all. Later something similar happened when we were 12-year-old. In those times, our parents would work a lot and we would spend a lot of time with our beloved grandmother. When we grew up and started living our own lives, we still have not been able to forget the wonderful times of youth and childhood. Because of this, when brother’s daughter Monika comes from America, I always say to her that she is always a Lithuanian and a Kaunasian. And I also go for a walk in Laisvės Alėja with my little son Nojus quite often. Every time, we visit the Museum of War for a meeting with lions. :) I have taken the last photo with lions in 2013, capturing my brother’s daughter Monika. I was born in 1966 in Kaunas and I am not planning on leaving it no matter what. :)” (2018)

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kki ledo ciuozykla
1956 / 1961

Ice-rink in Žaliakalnis


The ice rink in front of the State Institute of Physical Education was a favourite place for the youth of Žaliakalnis

The ice rink in front of the State Institute of Physical Education was a favourite place for the youth of Žaliakalnis

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maironis
 

Monument for Maironis


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1993

Darius and Girėnas Monument


The funniest part was to spin circles around the monument with my Nikon, which was used but still great.

The funniest part was to spin circles around the monument with my Nikon, which was used but still great. I brought it back from a trip. Before leaving, I used half a film taking photos with my Zenit camera, capturing the monument which had not been fully built yet, and in June, I used the rest of the film in my new camera to capture the installation the sculpture. I was in time to the see the test installation of the sculpture, and later the actual procedure. When the team of construction workers made sure that everything was OK, some of them even started to pose, as if they gained some significant award. It somewhat reminded of a different photo, the completion of the railway that connected the Western and the Eastern banks... It was probably the first time when I saw all the benches in Sporto Alėja (Sport’s Avenue) occupied: people watched the installation of the sculpture as some show. The monument was uncovered on 17 July 1993 and it was probably the largest rally-type even in Kaunas after the restoration of Independence.

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tarnausku seima sventinis pasiplaukiojimas nemunu
 

Bridge for Vytautas Magnus


1 photographPovilas (first to the right) and Vandas (second to the left), Tarnauskas, restaurant "Versalis" shareholders, festive visit to Nemunas.

1 photograph Povilas (first to the right) and Vandas (second to the left), Tarnauskas, restaurant "Versalis" shareholders, festive visit to Nemunas. 4th decade. From the family archive of Ludza Riaukienė.

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Kauno pilis


Audronė: „Pilis dabar atrodo visai kitaip.

*Audronė:* „Pilis dabar atrodo visai kitaip. Nebuvo tokio bokšto. Tada buvo apvalus kuoras, aišku, labai jau apgriuvęs, ir likusi siena, kuri dabar uždengta. Nuo jos labai gerai matėsi kunigų seminarijos kiemas. Mes nusiimdavome nuo pamokų, bėgdavome į tą kuorą ir žiūrėdavome, kaip klierikai su sutanom žaidžia krepšinį. Dar eidavome per tiltą, į Skriaudžių gatvę, į šlaitą. Sėdi ant šlaito ir žiūri, kaip mokyklos kieme kūno kultūros pamokas kas nors atlieka...“ (2019)

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Interviu su R.Viedrynaiiu. yd ligonin
 

Jewish Hospital


Rimantas Viedrynaitis: “I was born in Kaunas, the Jewish Hospital.

*Rimantas Viedrynaitis:* “I was born in Kaunas, the Jewish Hospital. It is sad that it does not look good right now. It is in front of the Seminary of Priests and Kaunas Castle. That building has a very interesting history: it was a Jewish hospital, and it was a brothel during the war and later a maternity ward, where women would tease the priests with naked breasts. I don't know, I feel some emotional connection to that place.”  (2014)

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Linksmakalnis


Svetlana: “I was living in Siberia and came to Lithuania from Irkutsk when I was 32 years old.

Svetlana: “I was living in Siberia and came to Lithuania from Irkutsk when I was 32 years old. My husband is a Lithuanian exile, I met him in Siberia. I taught physical education at Linksmakalnis and Išlaužas schools. We taught in Russian. Only later we have switched to Lithuanian. My kids were taking classes in Linksmakalnis. The area of the town was blocked. Iron and concrete blocks were placed at the entrance. Ponds were excavated. As we passed through, we would see bones and skulls. I couldn't say that something secret had happened here. An ordinary intelligence. Employed military officers with technological education. Watching, listening, encrypting. They were looking for some information they had needed. Would make selections. In cases they couldn‘t decrypt it – would send it to Moscow. There were rumours – there was a rocket here. That they were suppressing American broadcasts. There was no such thing. We had never felt like this was a military town, like we were isolated. I remember how we would go out for picnics with my children. The barracks were where the ruins are now. Which had a sauna, a sanitary unit. When the unrest began, the soldiers were transferred to another house of exiles. The moving of soldiers was rather quiet and beautiful.” (2019) 

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Nemunas str. 14, 14 b


Eglė: Hens running across the yard, pigs being farmed behind the house and the old horse of Kaunas silently sitting in the garage...

*Eglė:* Hens running across the yard, pigs being farmed behind the house and the old horse of Kaunas silently sitting in the garage... It is a description of a casual rural household after World War II, of one of the buildings located in Nemunas Street. Described as the Red-light district during the interwar period, the street was many times called the Venice of Kaunas as well, as the overflowing river used to flood the street. Despite the street being unknown to many tourists, and a few of who live in Kaunas since birth having been there, locals are full of memories. It is known that since the 1870’s, the property of land belonged to the town dweller Chaim Gidoni and after his death in 1876; to his family’s generations. In 1900, two-storey buildings (now Nemunas St. 14 and 14B) of red brick masonry were built. Later, in 1927 the property was sold to Benjamin Gruzdas, who was the owner of a jewellery store in Laisvės Avenue and the official provider of Omega watches. The oldest residents remember themselves being children, sitting in the house and watching playfully the overflowing river. Together with floating giant floes (heet of floating ice) the river used to flood almost up to the windows of the ground floor of the Nemunas St. 14B building. Ms. Elena was one of these children, who grew up listening to the clamour of children’s voices and saw adults organising birthday celebrations with food, music and dances until sunrise. However, not all of the memories cause nostalgia. According to Mr. Levas, several tragic accidents have happened: during one of the floods, a woman drowned when she accidentally fell into the basement, a German military officer jumping out from the balcony of building 14B, and one woman burned alive in the fire of a storehouse where she lived. Another local resident, Romas, remembers the times when several families had to live in one small apartment. Once, his mother hosted two students, who protested against the Soviet Union government by sewing so called “granny” pants out of the union’s flag and hanging it on the fence next to the parterre. These past stories allow people to feel the spirit of the street and re-live every moment experienced by former residents of Nemunas street.

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All memories

SITES OF MEMORY

1 Projects 113 10 Routes
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Our memory is framed by spatial reference points: places, sites, buildings, and streets give us our bearings and enable us to anchor and order our memories. So, the material alteration of these places can lead to the substantial modification of our memories, and even their disappearance.
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