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Juozas Eidukiavičius

Detailed biography of Juozas Eidukiavičius

Juozas Eidukiavičius was born in a small village in Lithuania in 1929. His parents were farmers and owned 11 hectares (27 acres) of land. In 1939 the Soviets arrived, then the Germans. Juozas started work at the age of 14. In 1944 the Soviets came back. And in 1948, he and his father were arrested. He was sentenced to 25 years’ camp, for nationalist activities, under Articles 58.1 and 58.11 of the Penal Code, and then was given another 5 years and another 5. He was accused of helping the “Forest Brothers”, the Lithuanians who were fighting against the Soviets. His mother and sister were deported the following year to the Irkutsk region. He only found this out in 1955. First he was sent to Inta in the north. He remembers arriving with other Lithuanians at this camp, where the prisoners were afraid of the arrival of these “fascists”. He was then moved from mine to mine at Inta and then to Vorkuta, where his father died.

He was threatened with the firing squad, when Stalin died, because he refused to get up when the siren rang out. Shortly afterwards he escaped with a Lithuanian fellow-prisoner, by extending a mineshaft. He was rearrested when he got near Pechora. He was given another 10 years. Shortly afterwards, they all went on strike, one of the famous 1953 camp strikes. It was severely put down. He was sent to a hard regime camp. However, the strike led to some improvement in living conditions in Vorkuta, where he returned in 1955. Then he was sent to Anzeba in the Ozerlag, a huge Siberian camp between Tayshet and Bratsk.

Amnesty was proclaimed in August 1956 and his sentences under the various paragraphs of the notorious Article 58 of the Penal Code concerning political crimes were expunged. However, he was kept in prison another three years because in Vorkuta he had argued with a team leader who had stopped him going into a heated building during extremely cold weather. When he got out of the punishment block, he beat up the brigade leader and was sentence for violence under Article 59.3 of the Penal Code. To this day he is still marked by that sentence, which has not been amnestied, as if there were no extenuating circumstances for having defended one’s life and fought against cruelty.

In 1959 he was released and went to build the first blocks of flats in Bratsk, which was booming with the construction of the hydroelectric plant. Then he left for Nikiley, where he still lives. On his release, he would have liked to return to Lithuania, but he had no residence permit.