Guest Lecture "Multidirectional Memory: Lithuanian Jews and the Soviet Deportations of June 1941".
- Prof Violeta Davoliūtė (Vilnius University, Lithuanian Institute of History, Lithuanian Cultural Research Institute)
- 20 February 16.00, room A-325
Starting 14 June 1941, Soviet police forces rounded up hundreds of thousands of 'enemies of the people' from the Western borderlands of the USSR. Men were arrested and incarcerated in the Gulag while women, children and the elderly were deported to special settlements across the empire's remote, inner reaches. In hindsight, the deportations brought the brutal, year-long Soviet occupation to a traumatic close, while the German invasion of 22 June 1941 marked the beginning of a new occupation that led directly to the Holocaust. In Lithuania, many greeted the German forces as liberators, while Nazi propaganda painted the Jewish minority as bloodthirsty Bolsheviks and the chief executors of the June deportations. From this time onwards, 'Soviet deportations' and 'Nazi genocide' emerged as 'competing traumas' – incompatible narratives of collective suffering and identity. In fact, Jewish Lithuanians were counted among the deportees of June 1941 in full proportion to their share of the population, and yet the life stories of these individuals played no role in the 'return of memory' that accompanied the collapse of the USSR. Based on a series of in-depth interviews with female and male Jewish survivors of the June deportations, a fate that paradoxically 'saved' them from genocide, this lecture will explore how the 'competition' of traumatic memories can be addressed through the recollection of these forgotten life stories and the specific contribution of women's testimonies.
Violeta Davoliūtė is Professor at Vilnius University Institute of International Relations and Political Science, and Senior Researcher at the Lithuanian Institute of History and the Lithuanian Cultural Research Institute. She was a Fellow at the Imre Kertez Kolleg Jena (2018-2019), Visiting Professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (2016) and an Associate Research Scholar at Yale (2015-2016). Professor Davoliūtė completed her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto and has been the principal investigator for major national and European research grants. A specialist in matters of modernity, historical trauma and the politics of memory, she has published books with Routledge, Brill and the Central European Press, and articles with Ab Imperio, Osteuropa, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Journal of Baltic Studies, Athena, Politologija and other journals. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on nationalism, the politics of memory and the Holocaust, and has served as an expert evaluator for the EU European Commission's Horizon 2020 program, the Estonian and Lithuanian Council of Sciences, the Lithuanian Cultural Fund and other funding bodies.
This talk is part of a project Translating Memories: The Eastern European Past in the Global Arena that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 853385).