Memorial Peloton passed through the capital of Lithuania on Wednesday, August 23. This date is not accidental — that day was the 84th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
On August 23, 1939 in Moscow, the Third Reich and the Soviet Union not only concluded an alliance, but also, in a secret protocol, divided Europe into spheres of influence of both countries in the planned war. The junction of these zones was established on the northern border of Lithuania. Latvia, Estonia and Finland fell under Soviet influence. Poland was divided along the line of the Narew, Vistula and San rivers. This “fourth partition of Poland” became a fact on September 17, when the Soviet army entered the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth already occupied by the Nazis from the east.
The international exhibition, also co-prepared by the Sybir Memorial Museum, tells about the Nazi-Soviet cooperation and the fate of the nations of Central and Eastern Europe under occupation.
Unveiling of the outdoor exhibition entitled “From August 1939 to June 1941: terror and mass repressions in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine” Moldova and Ukraine”) was combined with the Vilnius Peloton.
It is worth recalling that the countries listed in the title of the exhibition are related to the “Common Memory” Museum Cooperation Network, which was established in December 2022 and was also an initiative of the Sybir Memorial Museum.
Memorial Peloton in Vilnius started at 2:00 p.m. at the seat of the Museum of Occupations and Fights for Freedom. The gathered guests were welcomed by Arunas Bubnys, PhD, the director of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance Movement of Lithuanian Citizens, which runs the museum.
Bubnys, PhD, appealed to the representatives of the Sybir Memorial Museum present at the site — with the director professor Wojciech Śleszyński at the forefront — thanking you for sharing the idea of the Peleton of Remembrance. In his speech, the latter reminded about the role that museums have to play in shaping historical memory and the international community of memory, which we must especially care for in the face of the situation in Central and Eastern Europe and the war in Ukraine.
The directors of the Vilnius museum branches, Solvita Vība — Director of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia and director of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk — Grzegorz Berendt, also spoke.
The peloton set off at 3:00 p.m. The starting point, i.e. the Museum of Occupations and Fights for Freedom, had a double meaning. The building in which the Museum is located was used by the Soviets as a prison, and then as the headquarters of the KGB.
The next stop on the bicycle route was the prison in Łukiszki. There, the guides leading the peloton presented the history of the facility both in tsarist times and under Soviet occupation.
The Vilnius Peloton ended in the memorial complex of the Tuskulany Palace. This facility was used by KGB officers during the communist regime. In the 1990s, during renovation works, the bodies of several hundred people were discovered on its premises. According to historians, they were victims of murders committed in the years 1944-1947 at the KGB headquarters in Łukiszki, among them soldiers of the Home Army and members of the Lithuanian resistance movement.
In the columbarium created by the palace, the participants of the Memorial Peloton paid tribute to the victims of Soviet repressions.
Memorial Peloton in Białystok — the place where this initiative began, is ahead of us. We invite you on Saturday, June 26 to the square in front of the Dramatic Theatre. You can come by bike, scooter, skateboard or rollerblades.
A few-kilometers ride through the city will start at 5:00 p.m., but we invite everyone already at 4:00 p.m. People who have made use of the earlier online registration will be able to pick up their package with commemorative trinkets.
In front of the theater, there will be an educational stand of the Sybir Memorial Museum and a bicycle station where you can inflate the wheel or adjust the steering wheel or saddle.