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The Memory of the Second World War in Museums, Memorial Sites and Monuments in Lithuania after 1989

The central point of this research project is the question of the development of the presentation of the Second World War in museums in the context of the change of the politics of memory after independence from the Soviet Union. The symbols which dominated the historical discourse and the national culture of commemoration of the “Didysis Tėvynės Karas” (Lithuanian for the “Great Patriotic War”) during the times of the Soviet Union will be presented.

After the changes of 1989, the commemoration of military events of the war lost its potential in the memory culture of the country. It was replaced by an explicit anti-Soviet undertone. Furthermore, the commemoration now focused on the theme of Lithuania as a victim. At present, on a national level, the war is of relevance especially in the context of the commemoration of the Holocaust and is only presented visually and in substance at locations that are associated with the extermination of Jewish citizens. Noticeable is the visual juxtaposition, on the one hand, of the narratives of the victims of the Holocaust and, on the other hand, of the Lithuanian victims of Soviet terror, which are both based on emotionalizing didactics and which are to further identity development. At the same time, apart from state-supported narratives, discourses of other groups are discernible (such as veterans, transnational networks), which are defined by their own visual and ritual aspects. Finally, attention will also be paid to the musealization of the Second World War, focusing not only on the official historical perspective, but also on the non-governmental, social memory in today’s Lithuania.
Ektarina Makhotina


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