Kazys Almenas’s deliberations about Lithuania behind the iron curtain and their reflections in the adventures of Donatas Vėbra

  • Žygimantas Menčenkovas
Keywords: Kazys Almenas; Double identity; Detective novel; Memoirs; Ketman; Conservationism; Racism; Privacy


The article discusses the deliberations of Kazys Almenas about Lithuania behind the Iron Curtain. In his life, the engineer Kazys Almenas traveled to occupied Lithuania, and he recorded what he experienced there during his travels in memoirs. These experiences helped as material for detective novels, of which Kazys Almenas wrote four, featuring the policeman Donatas Vėbra as the main character. Futhermore, time in the novels coincided mainly with Soviet times. Thus Kazys Almenas’s memoirs as a main source of ideas were compared with tiese detective novels. In his deliberations he discerned, in Lithuanian society, not only examples of what the poet Czesław Miłosz called the idea of ketman, but also echoes of thoughts by the political thinker Aleksandras Štromas and the philosopher Hannah Arendt. One of the main challenges facing Kazys Almenas as a writer seeking to understand his characters is the double identity of individuals that was imposed on them by the Soviet regime. Therefore, he thought, people must relinquish their double identity in order to be enabled to become free.