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Delfi - Lithuania | Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kęstutis Girnius on the terms "Soviet era" vs "occupation" in Lithuania

Kęstutis Girniu looks in the news portal Delfi into the question of how to name the era of Soviet rule in Lithuania from 1944 to 1990: "The choice of words is anything but a bagatelle. Moscow's explanation, whereby Lithuania joined the 'Council Union' in 1940 is rejected for good reason. The controversy centres on the term 'Council' [Soviet, in Lithuanian 'Taryba'], because Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union, and not by 'councils', and the Russian term [Soviet] stresses more clearly the foreign nature of the occupation. ... But how should a grandfather answer his grandson's question: 'Grandpa, what did you do during the occupation?' Certainly he's not going to boast that he was a party secretary, activist, Komsomol leader or supporter of the government, or that he had a glorious career. Because how can you justify your success if it was dependent on the whim of the occupiers? 'Soviet era' [using the Russian term 'Sovet'] would be a compromise, because it avoids the term 'Councils'. But 'occupation' is even better because it would facilitate the process of reappraising the past, with its collaboration, repression and injustices."

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