“Burned, but not Burnt”: Meanings of Pirčiupiai and Their Change in Soviet and Independent Lithuania
Keywords:Pirčiupiai, Mother of Pirčiupiai, monuments, cultural heritage
Abstract. The article examines the development of the Pirčiupiai Memorial – the first memorial established in the Lithuanian SSR to commemorate the “victims of Hitler’s terror” – and the role of the story of the destruction of the village of Pirčiupiai in the memory cultures of the Soviet and independent Lithuania. During the Soviet era, this story was used to substantiate the essential ideological statement that the target of Nazi repression, terror, and mass murder was the entire “Soviet” Lithuanian society, and at the same time, an ambivalent image of Pirčiupiai as a peaceful Lithuanian peasant village, destroyed by the Nazis, and an active “partisan village” was introduced. During the revival period, the highlight of the Pirčiupiai memorial and one of the symbols of the cultural canon of the Lithuanian SSR – the sculpture of the Mother – was not removed, but the story of the destruction of Pirčiupiai itself, due to the counter-reaction to the intensive use of the history of Pirčiupiai in the Soviet era and the significant associations created during this period, other priorities of Lithuanian commemoration policy and socioeconomic circumstances became a secondary place of remembrance and, in the long run, a favorable medium for third parties to develop their own historical narrative.
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