European Memories

of the Gulag

BioGraphie

09
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Anton  KAUNAS

Anton Kaunas – The wolf-hunter
Anton Kaunas was born in Tarpučiai, Lithuania, on 4 March 1941. In 1949, at the age of 7, he was deported with his parents as being a kulak family. They were sent to a small village near Irkutsk. He and his brothers and sisters felt hungry as they went lifting frozen potatoes. To go to school they had to share one pair of shoes between two. When they got there, other children threw stones at them, sometimes calling them Fascists. His father worked as a joiner in the kolkhoz for a kilo of grain a month. But he died in 1951 and his mother could not work because she was ill. The children helped each other, his three brothers became tractor-drivers and he a lorry-driver. He began to go hunting, although at first it was illegal, his life improved. He remembers the first wolf he killed, before becoming one of the best wolf-hunters in the district. He said he loved the work, probably because of his hunger.
In 1961, he entered the army for three years, and served in Kazakhstan and then on the Virgin Lands Campaign until 1964.
When he was released, he did not want to go back, whereas his elder brother, sisters and mother went back, later, in about 1983. He often goes on holiday to Lithuania but his life is here in Siberia.
 

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Siberian life

Anton Kaunas became a hunter and an angler, a lover of Siberian nature, first probably to fight the hunger his family suffered from, then out of passion. At the start he hunted although it was illegal.

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They shouted “Fascists” at us

Some children called him a Fascist, but that was rare.

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"I won’t join the Party, even if you shoot me"

Anton Kaunas refused to join the komsomol or the Party, even though it would be to his advantage.

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Wolf-hunter

Anton Kaunas first hunted for food, then it became a passion and he turned into an excellent wolf-hunter.

 

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"I won’t join the Party, even if you shoot me"

Anton Kaunas refused to join the komsomol or the Party, even though it would be to his advantage.

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They shouted “Fascists” at us

Some children called him a Fascist, but that was rare.

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Protecting valuables

One neighbour hid his valuables in the lake to protect them from looting.

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Mutual family support

Their family back in Lithuania helped them with regular parcels and letters.

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Religious practice

His mother read him the Bible, went to church. They were allowed to.

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Repatriating his father’s body to Lithuania

The family repatriated their father’s body to Lithuania; he is now buried alongside his wife in his Lithuanian village.