The Old Kaunas Cemetery

In the spring, I learned that the park by my house was the site of the original Kaunas cemetery.  In the 1950s, the Soviet authorities removed the gravestones and monuments and turned the area into a park.  Many of the remains were re-buried elsewhere — such as Darius and Girenas, who were moved to the war cemetery on the outskirts of town.  However, some remains were simply left under the park grounds.  A few months ago, a monument commemorating the park’s past was installed.  The artist who created this monument is the same artist who created the Kalanta memorial on Laisvės Alėja. A few weeks ago, I conducted a “working interview” with him in the park while he supervised installation of the final pieces of the memorial.

Established in the mid-19th century, the cemetery had sections for Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews and Muslims.  Russian and German soldiers who perished in World War I were buried here.  Importantly, soldiers who died fighting the Bolshevik army in 1918 (thereby securing Lithuanian independence) and some partisans who fought against the Soviets during World War II were buried here — hence the Soviet decision to move the cemetery, thereby removing a “nationalist” site.

The new memorial consists of a large cross with 40 small crosses -- each one unique.

Marking the original burial site of Darius and Girenas

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About amanda

historian, traveler, blogger View all posts by amanda

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