Vincas Krušas was born to a farming family in the Vilnius region in 1925. In 1938 he was sent to school in Vilnius and after 1944 when the Soviets entered Lithuania, he joined an underground organisation that helped the resistance get equipment to print pamphlets and newspapers. In 1946 he was arrested and sentenced to five years’ forced labour, which he served in the Ukhta camp in the Komi Republic.
In 1950, on his release, he returned to Lithuania. But, meanwhile, his father had been arrested at the time of collectivisation in 1948 and sent to a camp in Lithuania. Three years later, his father was exiled for life to the Novosibirsk region. In 1951, his mother and two younger brothers were deported to the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia, but he managed to hide. In 1952, he was found and also sent to Krasnoyarsk. In 1957, his parents returned to Lithuania, he completed his studies in Krasnoyarsk and returned to Vilnius in 1962, and got a job in a timber-processing factory.
His family’s punishments
Well, a funny thing happened. Out of all our big family, we were in four places in Siberia: our father was in Novosibirsk in Severny district, one brother, well, he wasn’t actually in Siberia but Vorkuta, our mother was in the Krasnoyarsk region in Kansk, and we were taken to Krasnoyarsk because most of the deportees on our train were young people who had not been caught with their parents or their families. They housed us in the city of Krasnoyarsk because we were too young to work!
The various nationalities in the Gulag
What nationalities other than Lithuanians were there in the camp? Oh, there was a majority of Ukrainians, the banderovci. Do you know who the banderovci were? [followers of Stepan Bandera] There were quite a few Estonians. There were Latvians from the SS Division… for the Germans in the SS Division. Young men but intelligent. But the Latvians were… their character was different, incomprehensible! The Estonians, although it was hard to talk to them because they speak Russian poorly, they were all right as people. And perhaps the Latvians were a bit selfish, I don’t know. But in general we got on all right, why shouldn’t we?