About the project
A Charity and support fund "Jauniems" is organizing a project for building public awareness and patriotism called 'Mission Siberia'. From the start of the project there have already been 12 youth expeditions so far that have rearranged and cleaned over 100 Lithuanian cemeteries and met with local Lithuanians.
The idea for the project came up in 2005 when a resolution for building patriotism was approved in the Youth Organizations Assembly of Lithuania. This resolution claims that the youth of Lithuania is patriotic, but they perceive it differently than the generations before, therefore the youth does not have the opportunities to show it to the public in traditional ways and means. So finally, the initiative of 'Mission Siberia' was born.
Goals of the project
- Foster national history awareness and patriotism among youth;
- Stimulate communication between generations and understanding (especially in the spheres of modern history of Lithuania);
- Form a positive image of Lithuania's patriotic and publicly aware youth in the public;Remember and honour the lost souls and injured during the Exile of Lithuanians in the middle of the 20th century;
- Remind the public that Siberia is not just an area in Russia – it is a very broad definition that stores in itself many territories of other CIS countries where Lithuanians have been exiled;
- Commemorate the memory of the confined countrymen in Siberia, according to the capabilities of the expedition help to clean and tidy up the graves and tombs of the exiled;Meet with local Lithuanians still living in Siberia.
Stages of the project
Everyone who wants to participate in the project has to fill in a form that can be found on "Mission Siberia" website (the form will be available in April and May). From all the contenders we will select 70 people to the second stage of the selection where a mock hike in Lithuania of at least 50km will take place. After the mock expedition we will select the final participants. After the mock expedition the final participants will be chosen.
The new group of the expedition will go to Siberia in the summer of 2013 (July - August). The expedition will commence for two weeks and it will be led by experienced expedition supervisors. The main goal of the team is to tidy up all found Lithuanian graves and cemeteries and to connect and spend time with countrymen who settled in Siberia.
After the expedition the group will start working on the most important stage of the project – presenting the results of the mission to the public. That kind of presentations will be organised all year long until the next expedition. 'Mission Siberia' presentations will be presented in public schools, universities, community centers, also the participants of the project are welcome to raise awareness of the project to local Lithuanians and foreigners in other countries.
2013: The participants of this year's project "Mission Siberia'13" went to the expedition in the area of Tyumen. It is the center of one of the area of Russian Federation and also the city in West Siberia, which is on the both sides of Tura, by the Trans-Siberian railway. This is one of the oldest towns of Siberia, large industrial center. Tyumen was founded in 1586 in the place of Tartar city Qing Tour. In the seventeenth century a trade-route to China went through this town. A prison of the prisoners forwarding was operating there in the end of eighteenth century - in the nineteenth century. Among those prisoners there were also the participants of the 1794, 1830-31, 1863 years rebellions, book-smugglers. Julius Anusavicius, a poet and a participant of the 1863 year rebellion, was imprisoned there, too. In the year of 1946 Estonian, Polish, several Lithuanian families were exiled to the area of Tyumen. In December of 1947 about 80 Lithuanian families from the past areas of Pagegiai, Silute, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Telsiai, Marijampole, Vilkaviskis, Kaunas were brought there also. The exiles were working in the constructions, electric power station, brick-field. After 5 years Lithuanians were allowed to return to their homeland. In the 5 - 6 th decade concentration-camp was operating in Tyumen (prisoners were working as loaders in the industry concerns) , there was a large correctional labor colony in this city locality, also.
2012: During the expedition of 2012, a sixteen-man team travelled to the Republic of Khakassia (Russia) in the south of Eastern Siberia. Over 5000 kilometers from Lithuania expedition participants arranged and tidied up 11 Lithuanian cemeteries (although the original plan was 6) and met with some Lithuanians still living there. In one of the Lithuanian cemeteries visited the group left a wooden oak cross that the participants brought from Lithuania (author: folk artist Vidmantas Zakarka). Its purpose is to commemorate the exiled (You can find the model of the cross in the National Museum of Lithuania). The cross itself is hollow and inside there is a capsule with regards from fellow Lithuanians, written during the preparation for the project. The members of the expedition travelled more than 13,000 kilometers.
2011: In 2011 two youth expeditions visited the Tomsk region in the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tajikistan. In Tajikistan, in the cemetery of the city of Kurgan-Tube members of the expedition built a monument in remembrance of the Lithuanians exiled to Siberia. During that expedition they also found the grave of one of the expedition member's great-grandmother, the group also met with the local Lithuanians living there. In Tomsk area the youth team rearranged seven cemeteries (86th and 109th blocks: Tungusky Gor and Centralnaya), put up a wooden cross, travelled by foot almost 100 kilometers and met with Lithuanian descendants.
2010: In 2010 the 8th expedition of 'Mission Siberia' consisted of a twenty-man team that went to the Lithuanian deportations and detention places in Sverdlovsk, Russian Federation. This expedition travelled to Siberia by train and some of the distance had to be overcome by foot, visiting Cheremkhovo, Mostavaya, Novaya Lialia, Saltanovo and ares of the 59th district that required a lot of effort, patience and stamina as the territory was covered in high grass and swampy taiga. In all of these destinations the youth group rearranged many graves of their fellow countrymen, built three new large wooden crosses, met with local Lithuanians.
2009: The participants travelled to 2 expeditions to the Republics of Buryatia (Russia) and Kazakhstan. Differently from the past expeditions, the members of this group have attended the graves and cemeteries of political prisoners from Lithuania rather than the exiled. Buryatia was the furthest location any of the previous expeditions have ever reached. In Buryatia the participants tidied up the cemeteries of fellow Lithuanians and met with local communities of Lithuanians.
2008: The members of the 'Mission Siberia'08' visited the regions of Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk where they cleaned up one of the biggest cemeteries of the exiled Lithuanians in Siberia – the cemetery of Biriusink that has become a place of eternal rest for more than 250 of our fellow countrymen. The participants have also cleaned the cemeteries of Serebrovo, Solenaya, Talaya, Tumanshet, Saranchet, Tulun and one of the most beautiful Lithuanian cemeteries in Siberia the Kvitok cemetery. The Kvitok cemetery was spectacular and amazed the members of the expedition with the number and size of the Lithuanian wooden crosses.
2007: The youth group travelled to the territories of the exile of Lithuanians in the region of Krasnoyarsk, the district of Shalinkaya near the Mana River often referred to as the River of Exile. The expedition met with the representatives of the Lithuanian community there, visited and arranged the cemeteries of Pymia, Narva, Podsobnaya, the Great and Little Ungut, the Cemetery of the 3rd Kilometer, Alekseyevka, Beretha, Brod and Korbik (one of the most astounding cemeteries).
2006: The expeditions of the year 2006 were the first expeditions of the project and during that year 3 expeditions to Siberia (regions of Irkutsk, Tomsk and Komya) took place. During these expeditions the places of exile and cemeteries were tidied up, cleaned and rearranged. The participants of the expedition met with local Lithuanians and learned a lot about the confinement of their fellow Lithuanians.
A more detailed look of the expeditions may be found in the links below:
Achievements of the project
In the year of 2007 the project was nominated for 'LT identity" – awards that are intended for the most recent achievements and meaningful activity in making the image of Lithuania more positive.
In 2010 the laureate producer of the Lithuania's National award for Culture and Art Jonas Jurašas produced a play called „Antigone in Siberia" which was inspired by the project 'Mission Siberia". The play was produced to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first exiles of Lithuanians to Siberia during the Soviet occupation. In the same year for the part of Antigone in the mentioned play, Lithuanian actress Eglė Mikulionytė was awarded The Golden Stage Cross.
In 2011 in the conference organized by the Lithuanian Union of Student Representations (LSAS) called 'Student Awards 2010' the project 'Mission Siberia' has won the 'Student Award of respect' for the patriotism and citizenship education.
In 2011 the project 'Mission Siberia'11' has won the nomination 'Project of the Year' for youth civil and national initiatives.
In 2011 Lithuanian Parliament established the award of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania in remembrance to Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė called „Serve Lithuania". The youth citizenship and patriotism project 'Mission Siberia'11' was announced as a winner along with four other projects for civic initiative and state-building.
In the years of 2006-2012 the application form for the project on the webpage www.misijasibiras.lt has been filled in by more than 9000 people.
Starting from 2010 for three years in a row just before the expedition starts one of the biggest TV channel LRT organizes a support concert for the project. During the live broadcast the money collected is used for the success of the expedition – including the purchases of various inventories, travelling costs and promotion of the project both domestic and foreign.
So far there have been already 5 documentaries 'Mission Siberia' made according to the places the project visited: Krasnoyarsk-Irkutsk (2008), Republic of Kazakhstan (2009), Region of Sverdlovsk (2010), Region of Tomsk (2011), Region of Khakassia (2012).
Photography exhibitions 'Mission Siberia' are being organized since the beginning of the project in 2006. In 2006 and 2007 a traveling exhibition cube went all over Lithuania. The cube showed photos of expeditions and team members' blogs, excerpts - the mobile exhibition visited all major cities and towns of Lithuania. The uniqueness of this project is that below every photo there were comments and excerpts from the impressions written by the participants in Siberia. Such exhibitions took place 3 times in the Parliament of Lithuania, 2 times in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in more than 200 Lithuanian schools, in 5 Lithuanian embassies abroad (Dublin, London, Minsk, Rome, Stockholm), General Lithuanian consulate in St. Petersburg, the Lithuanian National Commission gallery for UNESCO and in many more other galleries.
Many well-known people support and attended the project 'Mission Siberia' such as: singer-songwriter and journalist Marijonas Mikutavičius, member of the famous music band „G&G Sindikatas" Gabrielius Liaudanskas-Svaras, actors Audrius Bružas and Neringa Skrudupaitė, journalists Martynas Starkus, Jaunius Matonis.
On the 14th of June 1941 the massive process of exile by the Soviet Union started in Lithuania. In just first three days – 14th, 15th and 16th of June more than 17,000 of citizens of Lithuania had been exiled. Throughout the 11 year period of exile more than 130,000 people were exiled, more than 150,000 citizens were confined in various concentration camps.
According to the data of Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center, more than 2/3 of the exiled Lithuanians have survived. 80,000 of them came back to Lithuania by 1960 and all of the others stayed in Siberia. In total more than 100,000 of Lithuanians have died or been killed in Lithuania and abroad during the exile period.
Due to the oppression and terror of the Soviet and German occupation of Lithuania in the period of 1940-1952 Lithuania has lost more than 500,000 people, another 500,000 of Lithuanians, Poles and Germans had to leave the country.
Organizers of the project
Charity and support fund "Jauniems". The fund was founded in 2005 by the Council of Lithuanian Youth Organizations (LiJOT). The goal of "Jauniems" is to encourage positive youth initiatives and create events needed for the youth tapping in on the knowledge and resources that are already available.