Memory Office: S. Dovydaitis
Partizan Stasys Dovydaitis tells a story about All Saints' day events in 1956 in Kaunas Old Cemetery.
I am in the club of the signatories of February 16th.
The brother of my father, professor Pranas Dovydaitis was a signatory of Acto f February 16th. He was a director in “Aušra” gymnasium and later he lectured in the faculty of theology in Vytautas Magnus University, also he is one of the founders of the Workers’ party at the time. In my childhood very often we would visit him.
In the Kaunas Old Cemetery I was impressed by the graves of the pilots, which are now transferred to the cemetery of Seniava.
Gray crosses made out of concrete and pilots’ gravestones were really decorated, tall, out of light marble, with propellers. Also, my other uncle, Vincas Dovydaitis was burried in a formal manner here – he died in 1920. He was the first commander of the Lithuanian riflers. He, along with the rifler squad were defending Valkininikai from the Polish. The whole squadron was attacked by about a hundred of the Polish, there was a huge shootout, he covered our retreating men and died whilst doing it. He was awarded with the medal of a rifler star after his death.
I was also very impressed by the monument “For Those Who Have Died For The Motherland”, which has now been rebuilt.
I have a picture with my youngest brother near the mausoleum of Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas. Mausoleum was built out of rose gray granite, semi-circle stairs going down. It was dark inside, I remember. I already knew about these piltos. I had received a book from professor Pranas Dovydaitis called the “Winged Lithuanians – Darius and Girėnas”. It was with a red cover, wonderfully red paper, wonderful book...
In our home in 1945 near Kaunas was a partisan bunker.
Me and my father where the first ones to say goodbyes to Skirmantas Lukša when he travelled abroad. It happened during the day, in a simple carriage, which me and my father had made to have two levels of depth. We put a ton of documents, pictures there. Skirmantas laid down there, two partisans with guns laid on the other side.
Whilst I was studying there I founded the main “Aušra” organization antisovieckaja (anti-Soviet). I distributed a lot of pardons, especially in the Botanical garden. And later, my father would start bothering me, telling me that I was too young, that I would die. With the help of a kind teacher from Armėniškės he forged documents for me, and I was pushed away from the forests to a communcation school in Kaunas in Ožeškienės street. I got a call to be in Kaišiadoriai, so I re-founded the fighting organization “Aušra”. My father and mother had already been arrested...
In 1952 I was arrested. I turned down spying, so I was put in a brigade with a strict regime, I got sentenced for 10 years in Russia. There were also partisans from Ukraine and Belarus. I died two times, but I stayed alive. I still remember the number of the lager – it was AM244-10. I stayed not for the whole sntenced period.
In 1956 I got back from the lager and I got into the whole mess by participating in the riot of All Saints’ Day, which was dedicated to commemoration of the uprising in Hungary. We knew that people were gathering there, all city new that. You can’t even imagine how many people were in the cemetery.
Me and my brother stood near the mausoleum of Darius and Girėnas, there were a ton of candles. A special uproar was next to the monument “For Those Who Have Died For The Motherland”. Someone put a bunch of scarfs there and made a flag and held it up. The speakers were pretty blunt – they shouted that we need freedom, we need to fight, that we support Hungary in their fight for freedom. More and more people came... One guy was attacked by a man from the militia. I was so nervous, I said: men, there are so many of us, will we let to hurt this person? The crowd took him from the hands of militiaman. The next thing I felt was that I was being dragged somewhere. One guy, a hefty red-faced komsomol was dragging me... Both my hands put in lock, and I just had gotten back from the lager, so I thought I was dead. So I just punched the militia man, I punched his hat off and I got pulled away by the mass of people. Together with my brother we decided to back up a little so the wouldn’t recognize us.
Maybe an hour had to pass for the people to heat up, and everyone started going to the city centre. So the whole mass of people started leaving the cemetery... Outside the graveyard the militia tried to cordone us off, but they were quickly dissapated. There were a bunch of people in this mass – men, women, yeong, odler... So the whole mass of people started going through Vytautas avenue, just on the driveway. The whole street was filled with people, you couldn’t see neither the start nor the end of it. And me, as one of the fierce guys, I was one of the people in the front.
We had walked up to the executive building of the militia, it was closed off, the redhats were holding each other hand in hand – the army of the ministry of internal affairs – however they didn’t have any weapons, just standing and cordoned off the whole corner from back to front. Because I was in one of the front rows, I don’t know how but I got pushed into a guy from the security forces who had brown eyes, he was scared, he was frantically looking at people, I will never forget this. When this pushing finally broke, the whole crowd was chanting “Freedom for Hungary, freedom for Lithuania!”, they were yelling it in the Laisvės avenue. We were marching to the government building [now – Kaunas City Municipality building]. The red guys lived in the city centre, the people that used to live there before were mostly all exiled or killed. They opened the windows and closed the windows, opened them and closed them again. In the end, near the corner of the government building there was another chain of the redhats, they looked much angrier and the crowd started to dissapate, because some of them were grabbed in the streets, alleys, they were arrested. So we all went our own ways, and we went home. This event was like adding fuel to the fire, the whole crowd filling Vytautas avenue, Laisvės avenue... The crowd was really big.
Around 1957 similar things repeated, I was there again, but, unfortunately, this time everyone was armed... I remember, how the helmets of the soldiers were shining because of the drizzle. They were beating people with the butt stock of the guns. Finally they decided to eliminate cemetery.
Since I lived up the hill in the city, in Vaižgantas street, I used to go past the cemetery to work. This one time, one red-cheeked guy said you can’t walk through here – go around. I say: “Why? How come?” He yelled back to me: “I’m telling you you can’t. Get out of here, it’s forbidden, there’s no path here!” I look past him and I see a crane, some construction workers – they were demolishing the monument “For Those Who Have Died For The Motherland”. I felt really bad, I wanted to do something mischievous to them, but I couldn‘t... When I came to take a look at it in the evening, everything was wiped out, there were barely any footprints left of the monument.
In 1988 when we were commemorating the anniversary of the Act of Independence, the Soviets put a lot of security and militia into the streets in order to ensure people wouldn’t riot and keep peace. People from a lot of work places had to stay on duty and guard the cemetery from any activities. From February 12th to the 19th, if I’m not mistaken. They gathered in a middle school in front of the cemetery (currently it’s the gymnasium of S. Darius and S. Girėnas). They were made to keep watch, walk in groups of 3 or 4, I wanted to be keep guard on 16th. We circle the cemetery. During the brakes they would show films filled with propaganda. I remember, one brave man said: “Tell us now, why the hell are we wasting our time, can you explain why? It would have been better if we reconstructed this school... And we’re just sitting here, what are we supposed to do? Grab the flowers from a person if he decides to put them on a grave? You can’t bring flowers to a graveyard anymore?”
Date of the interview: April 2019