of the Gulag
Ruzgys Rimgaudas remembers life after Stalin died
“Then, after Stalin died, things got a bit better. The young Lithuanians started buying bikes… Our family bought a small K125 motorbike. While I was still a youngster, we went to Ulan-Ude, the capital, 150 km away, to buy that motorbike. I came back on it, with no licence or experience in riding one, through the fields and the forest… we were four or five mates who bought the bikes and rode them back.
Later, when we were 15 or 16, after Stalin died, we started organising activities, dancing traditional dances, and the girls made national costumes. Everyone did what they could, as well as they could. We put on shows in our village, because a lot of people had lived there for quite a time. Some people managed to get instruments and began to play them; little bands were formed. There were older people and younger ones, some with accordions, other with violins, percussion, and girls playing the guitar. We would gather near the huts in the evening and dance on the bare earth. We even took part in an outside event, a regional festival; it was an excursion. Life changed a little.”