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Algimantas-Povilas  ZVIRBLIS

Algimantas-Povilas Zvirblis comes from a family of relatively prosperous peasants of the village of Žaibiškai (Utena county).

On 22 May 1948, the family is arrested. The count of the indictment is regrettably traditional: “socially dangerous elements”. Plunged into the atmosphere of expectation and fear, remembering the deportations in 1941 and 1948, his parents expect the arrest. They are sent to a Lespromhoz, forest enterprise, in the Irkutsk region. After a long and exhausting travel, the parents are engaged in cutting the low branches of trees, later in agricultural activities, searching ceaselessly to get some food. Indeed, the famine marks the memories of Algimantas. This follows studies at school, where he learns Russian despite the turn-over of teachers: Lithuanians, Russians, Germans...

Released in 1958, the family rushes to return in Lithuania, despite numerous attempts of local officials to retain these workers, henceforth free. Back to Lithuania, in their home village, the family receives a cold reception. Moreover, their house that served between 1948 and 1958 as the village school, cannot be rendered. The following years are marked by numerous efforts to become again homeowners. Algimantas Zvirblis continues to work in his home village and leads agricultural activities.

The interview with Algimantas-Povilas Zvirblis and his sister was conducted in 2011 by Emilia Koustova and Jurgita Maciulyte.

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Living conditions in deportation (Original in Russian)

" We lived there. The barracks were big and I don't know how many Lithuanian families lived there. We were on top of each other. And then... we lived very badly, we were poorly fed, we were given nothing, only 200 grams of bread. And this bread was wet, damp. That's it, we lived as well as we could. We did the work of the adults, a difficult job, without giving us any rest, we cut wood manually. We lived like that for a long time. But afterwards, small houses were built for us, it was better, we were rehoused there and... we were in charge of cutting wood. "


After the liberation (Original in Russian)

Question: Didn't they try to convince you to stay?

Oh boy! When we left, they tried to convince us: "If you have trouble living there, come back, we'll pay for your trip." Oh, you know what they say about the Russians: whoever takes his salary, for a fortnight has a good time. This is not the case with the Lithuanians. After that they started to pay attention to work. Before, we were given the worst work, it was poorly paid, but then where the pay is better, you have to work more, and when there are no workers ... Those who took their salary, for a fortnight of good time offered ... They were in debt. They already owed us money, they had to pay but had nothing to buy even bread, they even got angry. Towards the end, when there were goods in the store, the employees looked to see if they had received their wages or not. And they didn't have any money, but we were buying these products. So they would say, "It was the Lithuanians who bought everything, we couldn't get any when we got our pay. "

Question : Who were they? Were they locals or were they people that had been displaced?

They were locals, or I don't know, over there people were mixed, you know, they were kind of recruiting everybody over there.
t the beginning, there were no Russians, they came afterwards when we were already living in the small houses. There were none with us in the barracks.
There must have been advertisements for this logging operation, "Recruit workers". At that time, they were people who had just come out of the camps, they were not very good people. They were hired, they were paid to recruit them. They had to work there for two or three years. They stayed for a while, they got their money, and we let them go. They packed their bags, if they had a child, hop in their arms, and they were gone. They were hired again, at another place.


Conflicts within the camp (Original in Russian)

Question: There were never any conflicts?

Yes, there were. It happened that in winter they brought the workers from the kolkhoz to bring wood on horseback, there was a standard to be carried. There were all kinds of things at that time. I wasn't involved yet, I was young, but some of the guys were already working. There were conflicts, there were conflicts. Once some older guys came from Irkutsk, they said, "Let's go, we'll get a better job." They were afraid there would be a fight with the Lithuanians. They all came from the camp.

Question : So they were hooligans?

They were hooligans, big guys…

Question : But didn't the Lithuanian men try to organize themselves to protect the Lithuanian women?

The Lithuanians were fighting for the Lithuanians.
Once, the commander gathered us, we were still living in the barracks. There were camps about six kilometers away, they were all workers. And someone came running, everyone took what they had on hand, for example a shovel, and they came. The commander said to them, when he was next to them, "Don't start...". They managed to explain themselves and there was no fight.

Question : So the commander himself organized the defense with the Lithuanians?

Yes, it happened that time.


Persecuted Jewish populations (Original in Russian)

Question: And you knew they were killing them all?

They were saying it, they were getting shot, there was a lot of talk about it.
We couldn't help them.

Question: They didn't hide? They didn't run away to the forest, they didn't hide somewhere?

Well, I don't know, even my parents said, "Why didn't they run away?"
They were executing some, it was really horrible.

Question: And you knew? At that time, when it was happening?

We knew everything.

Question: And your parents talked about it, right?

They talked about it.
Of course they talked about it.
The parents talked about it, and so did we.
They wanted our father and mother to take their clothes, their things, and... they were afraid, afraid. They were asking to be given back if the war ended.

Question: They wanted to leave them with us.

They wanted to leave them with ... and ... they were afraid. Maybe somebody would steal them, etc., "You'll give them back to us later."

Question: They wanted to leave them so your parents could keep an eye on them.

They were afraid...
They were afraid...
They said, "You know, the Germans will find out eventually, and then they will shoot us all."
Our parents didn't let them leave their things.
They didn't let them. They weren't even allowed to cross the threshold. That's it... We had to do it that way so that no one would see.