Juliana Zarchi

 

 

Juliana Zarchi was born in Kaunas in 1938 of a Lithuanian father of Jewish origin and a German mother. When Lithuania was invaded by the Nazis, her father fled to the east and was killed by the Einsatzgruppen. While still a little girl she escaped from the Kaunas ghetto and managed to survive the Nazi occupation.

In August 1945, as part of a purge of ethnic Germans, she was forcibly resettled by the Soviets with her mother in Tajikistan in Central Asia, and only returned in 1962. What made her suffer most when they arrived was not the heat or the hunger or the typhus epidemics but the fact that the village children called her a “Fascist”, whereas her father had actually been killed by the Fascists. On her return, she taught German at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.

Her mother tried all her life to return home to Düsseldorf in Germany. She wrote hundreds of letters to the Soviet authorities but was never authorised to leave the USSR, where she died in Kaunas in 1991.

Since Lithuania has regained its independence, Julia regularly goes to Germany, where she is invited to give talks in schools to tell the story of her family and her experience of the two dictatorships.