Content The May 2022 exhibition will have four main components.
Production and smuggling of samizdat
This part of the exhibition brings together samizdat (a combination of sam/self and izdat/publish) from the archives of the ASRC with examples from other archives, e.g. the Research Center for Eastern Europe in Bremen. It shows how samizdat was created in the USSR and smuggled out of the country, printed abroad in small-size publications and then smuggled back into the country as “tamizdat” (a combination of tam/there and izdat/publish). It also shows magnitizdat (referring to magnitofon/tape-recorder), audio-taped unofficial songs of bards and singers like Galich, Okudzhava, Vysotsky, and Kim that were copied endlessly and disseminated from hand to hand.
Vilnius as a center for independent press
This part of the exhibition focuses more on the mostly unknown role of Petras Vaitiekunas, who in the course of several years printed literally hundreds of independent publications from all over the USSR and from as far away as South Sakhalin. The component shows unique original layouts of such publications, often in combination with the eventual end-product. We will also show some paintings Petras Vaitiekunas created before becoming an activist; these paintings have a unique style and color and show the spirit of the times when Lithuania embarked on the road to re-establish its independence.
Component Jan Palach and Czechoslovak samizdat
As much as Romas Kalanta is a symbol of the Lithuanian struggle for freedom, Jan Palach is a symbol of the Czechoslovak opposition to the “normalization” imposed after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. Palach immolated himself in January 1969 protesting the invasion; he died several days later. Like in Kaunas, his death led to massive demonstrations in Prague following his funeral.
Jan Palach and Romas Kalanta are not the only persons who died from self-immolation protesting the regime. In Latvia Ilya Rips tried to immolate himself in 1969 in protesting the invasion into Czechoslovakia. However, he survived, was arrested and declared mentally ill (as Romas Kalanta was posthumously), and sent to a psychiatric hospital. After two years he was released and emigrated to Israel with his family.
The funeral of Palach turned into a major protest against the occupation. A month later another student, Jan Zajic, burned himself to death in the same place. This was followed in April of the same year by Evzen Plocek in Jihlava, among others. In Hungary Sandor Bauer immolated himself in January 1969 and Marton Moyzes in February 1970.