Friday, 28 November 2014

Gruto Parkas, Part 1

Lithuania has a tragic history of occupation at the hands of Russia. Finally, in 1990, Lithuanians gained their independence and quickly worked hard to re-establish their national identity. What to do with all the old Soviet sculptures and propaganda? Many people wanted to tear down and destroy everything, the fewer physical reminders of the Soviet era, the better.

Local businessman Viliumas Malinauskas had other ideas. He convinced the Lithuanian Government to let him build a park where sculptures he collected could be seen by the public. Gruto Parkas opened in 2001, but not without controversy over the suitability of displaying objects related to past abuses. For visitors to Lithuania and younger generations, the park is a valuable way to see first-hand objects related to a time that is now quickly fading into history.

At the entrance, an example of a Soviet train that took many Lithuanians into exile in Siberia.

A bucolic scene (complete with yaks) that belies the sculpture's past history. A soldier, rightfully hiding.

The heavies of communism: Engels, Marx, Lenin, Mickevicius-Kapsukas (Lithuanian communist political activist) and Stalin.

Not all sculptures are of old farts. Some guys get the rock star, wavy hair treatment. Mind the cold sores. Propaganda at its finest, a joyful mosaic of the party's youth.

Stalin, always hiding something.

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