Stasys Dambrava was born in Utena, Lithuania, near the Soviet border, in 1927. At the age of thirteen, he saw the Red Army stationed on the edge of his town, before Lithuania was annexed by the USSR. He witnessed how his country was radically transformed by this new regime. His family was deported in 1941: he was separated from his father, a former policeman, who died of malnutrition in a Siberian camp six months later, and was taken with his mother, his sister and his two brothers to the Altai.
First in Barnaul and then in the taiga, his mother did hard physical jobs to help her family struggling with hunger. The children first only went to school, then started to work in their free time. Since Stasys wanted to return to his homeland after the war, he left his place of deportation with his sister and returned to Lithuania in 1947 - not knowing that they were breaking the law. They were not allowed to work, so they continued their schooling. In 1949, he was arrested and taken to a camp for invalids in Lithuania, where he worked for the administration. He was deported again to Altai in 1952. After working as an accountant in a sovkhoz, he continued his studies and became a school principal, a position in which he worked hard.
In 1960, he managed to return to Lithuania and reunite with his family. He worked as an engineer and teacher in his native region until his retirement. He maintains ties with former deportees from Altai and takes part in commemorations.
The interview with Stasys Dambrava was conducted in 2009 by Marta Craveri and Jurgita Maciulyte.