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Through Paris to America


What happened to the Lithuanian Helsinki group
Tomas Venclova Poet
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Well, I, as I said, I went to all the members of the Helsinki Group, they all consented that I should go to the West and be their representative there. [Eitanas] Finkelšteinas, after some time, also left for Israel but that took another four years. Well, he didn’t settle in Israel, he now lives in Germany, in Munich, but I see him a lot. Viktoras Petkus got a long prison sentence – 15 years, as we thought we would all get. He served 11 years. When Lithuania was struggling for its independence... was becoming independent he was released, and for some time he was the Lithuanian president’s adviser on human rights. He’s now elderly and ill, but he still lives in Vilnius. Ona Lukauskaitė-Poškienė was persecuted in various ways but didn’t end up in prison. She died in Šiauliai. Father Karolis Garuckas is also dead, he received a blessing before his death from the then Pope John Paul II. In short, that was the fate of the members of the Helsinki Group. Well, none of them were in fact killed, but one member of the group served 11 years for all of us, but he was resolved and prepared and that was far from being his first term in prison.

Na, ir aš, kaip sakiau, nuvykau pas Helsinkio grupės narius visus. Visi man davė sutikimą, kad aš išvykčiau į Vakarus ir būčiau ten jų atstovas. Eitanas Finkelšteinas po kurio laiko irgi išvyko į Izraelį, bet tas truko dar keturis metus. Na, jis Izraely neapsistojo, jis dabar gyvena Vokietijoje, Miunchene, bet aš jį dažnai matau. Viktoras Petkus gavo kalėjimo ilgą terminą – penkioliką metų, kaip mes ir galvojome, kad mes visi tą terminą gausime. Išsėdėjo vienuoliką. Kai jau Lietuva vadavosi, darėsi nepriklausoma, jis buvo paleistas, kurį laiką buvo Lietuvos prezidento patarėjas Žmogaus teisių reikalais. Dabar jau senas ligotas žmogus, bet dar gyvena Vilniuje. Lukauskaitė Poškienė buvo įvairiais būdais persekiojama, bet į kalėjimą nepateko. Mirė Šiauliuose. Kunigas Karolis Garuckas irgi mirė, gavęs prieš mirtį palaiminimą iš Popiežiaus tuometinio – Jono Pauliaus Antrojo. Žodžiu sakant, tokie yra Helsinkio grupės narių likimai. Na, niekas iš jų faktiškai nežuvo, bet vienas grupės narys už visus atsėdėjo vienuoliką metų, bet jis buvo tam visiškai pasiryžęs ir pasirengęs, ir tai jau buvo, toli gražu, ne pirmas jo kalėjimo terminas.

Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Lithuania, Viktoras Petkus, Eitanas Finkelšteinas, Ona Lukauskaitė-Poškienė, Karolis Garuckas, John Paul II

Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012