Anatoly Smilingis Staying on in Komi

 

Anatoly Smilingis was born on 4 October 1927 in Plungė, Lithuania. His mother was a teacher and his father a headmaster and head of a local nationalist party. The family was deported on 14 June 1941. His father was then separated from the rest of the family. Forever.
At the age of 14, Anatoly was left with his mother and little sister Rita. After a long journey by train and river barge, they arrived in the Komi Republic. In the special settlement village “Второй участок (second section)”, his mother found an indoor job in the public baths, while Anatoly worked in the forest as a tree marker. At the start they still had food supplies, but by the winter of 1942 things rapidly got worse and famine was widespread. After his mother was arrested and sent to a camp for stealing a few oat grains, Anatoly began to swell up from hunger and nearly died.
Barely had he recovered than he went back to work in the forest. After the war, he got a job at the Negakeros forestry enterprise. He so loved the forest that in the early 1950s he began running excursions for children.
In 1955, Anatoly received an official letter from Lithuania announcing his release. But he never left his land of exile. His hiking trips with children had brought him a reputation as a sportsman and social recognition. Anatoly now supports memory work and memory tourism, which he has pioneered in this region.