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'I believed that communism was the bright future of humanity'


Alumni from the Antanas Vienuolis School
Tomas Venclova Poet
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Once I was in Vilnius I had to go to a grammar school. I had gone to a primary school for a couple of years in Kaunas. I was a primary school pupil in Kaunas. Since I already knew how to read and write when I started primary school, I found learning very easy, easier than the other children and I also found the grammar school in Vilnius easy as well. That was probably in '47. And so I went to the grammar school, it was then a 10-year school, called the Antanas Vienuolis School. And it’s still there, it has now been returned to the Jesuits, during the war it was... it was a Jesuit grammar school. Now there is a Jesuit grammar school in the same building. Under the Soviets, of course, there were no Jesuits there – there wasn’t even, so to speak, a church there, on top of which that school was closed. The Church of St Casimir was later turned into a museum of atheism, well, and now it’s open again, Mass is said there. And I attended that grammar school, and that’s where I made some of my best friends, whom I even now... whom I still like, and see frequently when... when I’m in Vilnius. People, in fact, who are the closest friends I have. There’s Ramūnas Katilius, the physicist, with whom I was in the same class, who later worked for the Soros Foundation in Vilnius. Then there’s Pranas Morkus, he was in the class below me, he’s a screenplay writer. Zenonas Butkevičius, he’s a quite well known journalist, he writes on ecology and environmental protection, he also publishes on the internet. They are, so to speak, the people closest to me. I’ve been friends with them now probably for about 60 years. I’m now 73 years old, well, when I first met them I was perhaps more than 10, perhaps 13, perhaps 14, 15 years old.

Patekęs į Vilnių aš turėjau stoti į gimnaziją. Pradžios mokyklos porą klasių ėjau Kaune, buvau pradžios mokyklos mokinys Kaune. Kadangi jau stodamas į pradžios mokyklą jau mokėjau skaityti ir rašyti, tai man tas mokslas labai lengvai ėjo, lengviau negu kitiems. Na, ir Vilniuje į gimnaziją taip pat įstojau lengvai. Tai buvo turbūt 47-ais metais. Ir mokiausi gimnazijoje, tada tai vadinosi dešimtmetė vidurinė mokykla, Antano Vienuolio vardo mokykla. Ir dabar tebėra, dabar grįžusi jėzuitams, tai buvo tarpukario... tai buvo jėzuitų gimnazija. Dabar vėl yra jėzuitų gimnazija tuose pačiuose pastatuose. Prie tarybų valdžios, žinoma, nebuvo jokių jėzuitų, nebuvo ir, taip sakant, net bažnyčia, greta kurios ta gimnazija buvo buvo uždaryta. Švento Kazimiero bažnyčia vėliau buvo paversta ateizmo muziejumi, na, o dabar ji vėl veikia, ten vel laikomos mišios. Ir aš tą gimnaziją lankiau. Iš tos gimnazijos keletas mano geriausių bičiulių, kuriuos ir dabar... kuriuos ir dabar aš mėgstu, dažnai matau, kad... kada būnu Vilniuje. Mano, faktiškai, patys artimiausi žmonės. Tai mano klasės draugas Ramūnas Katilius – fizikas, kuris vėliau dirbo Soroso fonde Vilniuje. Paskui, Pranas Morkus, viena klase jaunesnis, jis yra kino scenaristas. Zenonas Butkevičius, jis yra gana žinomas žurnalistas, rašo ekologijos, gamtos apsaugos temomis, taip pat internete. Tai mano, taip sakant, artimiausia aplinka. Jau su jais bičiuliaujuosi turbut apie šešiasdešimt metų. Dabar man 73-eji, na, kai susipažinau su jais man buvo gal kiek daugiau negu 10, gal 13, gal 14, 15 metų.

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: Vilnius, Kaunas, Antanas Vienuolis School, Church of St Casimir, Ramūnas Katilius, Pranas Morkus, Zenonas Butkevičius

Duration: 2 minutes, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012