Liberation of displaced persons from Lithuania


The liberation of special displaced persons from the Western territories occurred slowly after Stalin’s death. This slowness reflects the authorities’ considerable hesitation and reluctance: deep distrust of groups who might resume insurgent activities; fear of tensions on their return home; reluctance from the regions they had been deported to, which would lose cheap but valuable labour.
In Lithuania, the liberation occurred in two ways:
•    Decrees from 1954 to 1965, collectively liberating groups of deportees, corresponding to the decrees that had prompted the deportation: first, a relaxation of the restrictive conditions the deportees were subject to, and then gradual liberation of the various “contingents” of deportee—“families of bandit accomplices”, “families of bandits”, etc. However, many of the people freed were not allowed to return to Lithuania and had to apply individually for permission from the Republic’s authorities.
•    Commissions appointed by the Republic’s highest administrative level also processed complaints and other requests from special deportees for liberation, permission to return or the return of their property. Many farming families were liberated in this way, before the collective decrees extended the number. Thousands of letters were sent from before 1953 and continuing into the late 1980s, leading to police inquiries, witness statements from fellow villagers, etc.
Alain Blum and Emilia Koustova