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Exhibition in Vilnius sheds light on Polish, Lithuanian freedom movements
Polish Radio 06.09.2021 13:15
A new exhibition launched in Vilnius on Monday sheds light on the legacy of communist-era Polish and Lithuanian freedom movements and their role in the two countries' transition to democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Poland and Lithuania: Together for Freedom exhibition, which was opened by the two countries’ top diplomats, aims to honor Poland’s Solidarity and Lithuania’s Sąjūdis, two freedom movements that played a key role in shaping the modern-day political landscape of the former communist countries.
The open-air exhibition, which was opened by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and his Lithuanian counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis, consists of 22 boards telling the story of cooperation between the two organizations. The leaders of Solidarity and Sąjūdis were able to unite people around a common cause and a platform of opposition to Moscow, officials have said.
The first destination chosen by Sąjūdis members for a foreign visit in 1989 was Warsaw. In turn, Polish politicians and journalists visited the Lithuanian parliament on January 13, 1991, right in the middle of events in the former Soviet republic that later became known as Bloody Sunday, according to historians. Lithuania became the first country to declare independence from the Soviet Union in March 1990, and on January 8, 1991, Moscow sent in troops in an effort to stage a coup. As a result, 14 civilians were killed and over 1,100 were injured, according to estimates.
“The exhibition shows that Polish-Lithuanian relations are a series of initiatives and efforts undertaken by various groups on their way to emancipation from the Kremlin,” historian Barbara Jundo-Kaliszewska told public broadcaster Polish Radio in an interview. She added that the exhibition "consists of photographs and documents from both Polish and Lithuanian archives and private collections, and is complemented by the memories of people who witnessed those events, statements by politicians and press reports." A separate part of the display focuses on the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II and the work of the Polish community in Lithuania.
Poland and Lithuania: Together for Freedom will be on show at Sirvydas Square in Vilnius until September 27. The exhibition has been put together by the Polish History Museum together with the Polish embassy in Lithuania.
The Polish and Lithuanian foreign ministers on Monday issued a joint statement to mark 30 years since their two countries reestablished diplomatic relations. Poland recognized Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union on August 26, 1991, and Warsaw and Vilnius reestablished diplomatic relations on September 5 of that year, the Polish foreign ministry has noted.