BaltHerNet Newsletter 2017, no.3

Below, you will find the Autumn edition of the Baltic Heritage Network quarterly newsletter. In these pages, you will find information about our past and future events, new publications, and what is happening across the globe within the diaspora research and archive communities.

In this issue:

  • Andres Kasekamp Arrives as the Chair of Estonian Studies
  • Sharing Our Stories was exhibited in Ottawa
  • “We Thought We’d Be Back Soon” Captures Displaced Persons’ Experiences
  • Celebrating 10 Years Since the First BaltHerNet Summer School
  • Adolfas Damušis Democracy Studies Centre opened at the National Library of Lithuania
  • Third printing of Alberta’s Estonian Heritage “Collection”
  • Summer Interns
  • VEMU Events Spring 2017
  • BALTHERNET Conference: New Beginnings of Baltic Diaspora

Please click on the pdf link below to read more:

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80th birthday of Tomas Venclova

September 11, 2017 marks the 80th birthday of Tomas Venclova, a prominent Lithuanian poet, intellectual and Professor Emeritus at Yale University, US. While living in Soviet Lithuania, Venclova became a dissident. He left the Soviet Union in 1977. In the United States, Venclova formed a triumvirate with two other émigré poets from Eastern Europe, a Russian poet Joseph Brodsky and a Polish-Lithuanian poet Czesław Miłosz. Having lived in the US for decades, Venclova is still very involved in the intellectual life of Lithuania and Europe. In his writings and by his personal example, the poet encourages the cultural and historical dialogue and challenges prevailing stereotypes. Venclova’s poetry, which blends history and personal experiences, has been translated into over 20 languages.

Venclova‘s poetry in the original language is available here >> 

Quotations from translations of Venclova’s poetry


Above all, though it’s hard, love language –

humbled in newspapers, obituaries saturated with lies,

in the bedroom’s close darkness, the informer’s confession,

in the cry at the bazaar, trenches, the stench of hospital wards,


in third-rate theatres, secret police offices, on lavatory walls.

In grey buildings where the stairwell’s shaft is guarded

by steel nets, so that it is not a man, but the century,

which selects the instant of his death


It was given so that we might be different from clay,

the palm, the thrush, perhaps even from angels,

so that by naming, we should grasp objects clearly.


From poem “Commentary”; translated by Ellen Hinsey


Although I won’t be able

To shake you, still I will,

I’ll put out every taper:

The tower and the bell,

The stony streets, the shore

Bedecked with tar, and even

My soul, though I’m not sure

It counts among the living.


Here, underneath my feet,

The shaky roadway crumbles.

The shooting range, unlit,

Conceals a dark-voiced rumble

Of waves, a vast expanse,

And, from the days of Noah,

Above the depths, the dance

Of Aquilon and Notus.

From “Ode to a City,” translated by Ellen Hinsey. According to Tomas Venclova, the poem was written as a farewell to Vilnius in 1974, when he decided to emigrate.

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Italian Input to Lithuanian Culture during the Interwar Period


By Jacopo Baiocchi

Giacomo Devoto was an Italian historical linguist and one of the greatest exponents of the twentieth century. He was born in Genova on July 19, 1897.

In 1915, after finishing his studies in Milan, he enrolled at the department of literature in Pavia. Due to World War I, Devoto was forced to stop his studies. He graduated from the university in 1920 with a thesis on the phonetic derangement in India and Romania. The same year he travelled to Berlin, where he attended a few courses by Wilhelm Schulze, Julius Pokorny and Heinrich Luders, dedicated respectively to Lithuanian, Irish and Sanskrit languages. That was Devoto’s first contact with Lithuanian culture. Later, in 1923 in Basel, he took courses of Iranian, Lithuanian, Greek and ancient Latin. In 1924, Devoto attained free teaching and started teaching two years later, in 1926.

In 1931, Instituto per l’Europa orientale (Institute for Eastern Europe) appointed him to manage magazine Studi Baltici. In order to be able to do his job properly, Devoto tried to strengthen his knowledge of Baltic languages. In fact, in 1933, he went to Lithuania to study Lithuanian. While he was there he also taught at the University of Kaunas for about two months in French and probably Italian. Devoto travelled North twice, where he met some of the greatest Baltic scholars of that time. Because of the war, in 1942 the magazine was temporarily closed. In 1952, it started to be published again. Its last issue came out in 1969.

In 2004, all Devoto’s works were gathered in a book, Scritti baltistici (Baltistikos raštai), written in two languages, Lithuanian and Italian.

After the war, in 1945, Devoto founded the “Circolo linguistico fiorentino” (Florentine Language Club). He received and successfully completed many important assignments related to cultural and political topics.

Devoto died on December 25, 1974. Continue reading

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Spanish Articles about Lithuania and the Complicated Path to Freedom

Gabrielė Gedo

“The rebel Lithuania,” a December 1989 El mundo article begins. Although most people can point to the early 1990s as the era when the Soviet Union fell, we sometimes forget about the internal changes that once made international news. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lithuania made strides towards independence while newspapers across the world discussed these historic, unprecedented moves. This phenomenon makes it exciting and fascinating to read an article like this one from late 1989 Spain. The main headline reads “Baltics challenge the Kremlin,” and the article describes how the Lithuanian parliament voted in favor of abolishing an article of the Constitution that guaranteed the political monopoly of the Communist Party and thus instituting a multi-party system. As the article states, “It was well known that this decision would unleash the ire of the Kremlin, which is opposed to a multi-party system. It [the decision] could also provoke similar challenges in the other republics and incentivize the members of parliament who want to undo this article of the Soviet Constitution.” Continue reading

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IFLA Satellite Meeting in Vilnius

National Library of Lithuania. Photo by Leonas Garbačauskas.

On 16-17 August, 2017, National Library of Lithuania will host the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Satellite Meeting. The participants will share their ideas on the challenge of multiple identities – multiethnicity in genealogy, local history and regional memory, as well as challenges and opportunities for libraries and other memory institutions. The presenters will discuss such topics as saving and promoting historical and cultural memories, supporting contacts and understanding between different local and regional communities and the role of libraries, museums and archives in participatory projects based on multi-ethnic and multi-generational collaboration.

Two representatives from Lithuanian Studies Department of National Library of Lithuania will present their papers. Senior researcher Dr. Dalia Cidzikaitė will talk about oral history method as a very effective tool in researching local history and contributing to regional memory. Director of Documentary Heritage Research Department, Jolanta Budriūnienė, will discuss the role that documentary heritage of Lithuanian diaspora stored at the National Library of Lithuania plays.

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Diaspora Researchers at the National Library of Lithuania

On May 4, 2017, National Library of Lithuania held 4th interdisciplinary diaspora seminar, bringing together researchers from different academic fields. This year’s event, organized by Lithuanian Studies Department, offered a few interesting perspectives on Lithuanian diaspora.

Prof. Dr. Rūta Stanevičiūtė and Prof. Dr. Danutė Petrauskaitė introduced their project, “Nylon Curtain? Lithuanian Musical Correspondence in the Cold War Era.” Together with a colleague Dr. Vita Gruodytė they plan to research the correspondence that took place between musicians living in exile: France, Poland, and USA, and their relatives and colleagues in Lithuania.

Kristina Dūdaitė, researcher at Judaica Department of the National Library of Lithuania, talked about approach to emigration in Jewish and Lithuanian press and literature in inter-war period. She observed that although the two ethnic groups lived side by side, emigration meant to them different things.

A Ph.D. student from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Egidijus Balandis, who is working on his thesis about sports in Lithuania from the end of the 19 century to the 1990s, noted that in Lithuania, history of sport has been greeted with a lot of scepticism and is still a very underdeveloped field in universities. According to him, currently research in history of sport lacks analytical approach to the sport and its social and cultural dimensions.

Vilnius University doctoral student, Kęstutis Kilinskas, looked at diaspora archives through the eyes of a military researcher. He raised questions about Lithuanian nonprofit military organizations that started to spring in the US at the end of the 19 century and at the beginning of the 20 century, also the inter-war Lithuanian officers and soldiers’ situation and their activities in America.

Marija Bražienė, who is pursuing her MA degree at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas and works at the Presidential Valdas Adamkus Library-Museum, presented her findings about traumatic memory and ways of overcoming it in memoirs written by DPs. A Ph.D. student from Vilnius University, Rūta Lazauskaitė, talked about the search of archives of the famous Lithuanian philologist, literary critic and public figure, Juozas Ambrazevičius, who at the end of World War II was forced to leave Lithuania, finally settling in the US.

Professor Dr. Giedrius Subačius, Endowed Chair in Lithuanian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the AABS president, introduced participants with the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies. Another guest, Lituanus editor-in-chief, Prof. Dr. Almantas Samalavičius, invited everyone to publish their articles in quarterly journal dedicated to Lithuanian studies.

The meeting culminated in great presentation by Dr. Gražina Sviderskytė, who talked about the great narrative of Lituanica flight, when in 1933, two American-
Lithuanian pilots on their way to Lithuania crashed and died in Poland. The presenter discussed new methods used in her research and shared discoveries.

All earlier seminars were accompanied by book presentations or film screenings. This year
was no exception. We ended the seminar with a documentary film Remembering My Mother‘s Voice (2015) in a newly opened Movie Theater at the Library. The film is about a world-renowned opera singer American-Lithuanian Arnold Voketaitis. The documentary was presented by the director Agnė Marcinkevičiūtė.


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