Solidarité Ukraine

European Memories

of the Gulag

BioGraphie

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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.

 

See MEDIA
Fermer

Tajik children

In these two extracts, Juliana remembers how the Tajik children called the deported children “Fascists” and threw stones at them, her feeling of injustice and relations between the deportees and the Tajiks.

Fermer

Her escape from the
Kaunas ghetto

Fermer

Memories of her mother’s
despair

Juliana’s mother fled Nazi Germany in 1937 and settled with her husband in Kaunas. She could speak neither Lithuanian nor Russian, which she eventually learnt, poorly, in Tajikistan.

During the interview, Juliana remembers how her mother felt foreign all her life, how she cried each time she spoke of Düsseldort. “We lived out of suitcases”, because her mother was always waiting for permission to go home. Juliana chose not to have any children for fear it would be yet another pretext for not allowing them to leave Lithuania.

 

Fermer

The fate of her
father’s family

Fermer

The day of
Stalin’s death

Fermer

Identity and heritage

 

In this extract Juliana explains why she has felt different all her life and uses “they” to mean the Lithuanians, the Russians and the Jews. The only time she uses “we” is when she talks about the deportees.

Fermer

Jews “saved”
by deportation

Fermer

Arrest and deportation (French version)

Juliana remembers when the Soviet political police arrived at their house in Kaunas and her deportation to Tajikistan.

 

 

Fermer

Relations with the Tajiks

In these two extracts, Juliana remembers how the Tajik children called the deported children “Fascists” and threw stones at them, her feeling of injustice and relations between the deportees and the Tajiks.

Fermer

Memories of her mother’s
despair

Juliana’s mother fled Nazi Germany in 1937 and settled with her husband in Kaunas. She could speak neither Lithuanian nor Russian, which she eventually learnt, poorly, in Tajikistan.

During the interview, Juliana remembers how her mother felt foreign all her life, how she cried each time she spoke of Düsseldort. “We lived out of suitcases”, because her mother was always waiting for permission to go home. Juliana chose not to have any children for fear it would be yet another pretext for not allowing them to leave Lithuania.

 

Fermer

Arrival in Central Asia

Juliana remembers her first impressions on arriving in this foreign land in Central Asia and how the resettlers were sent to pick cotton on the kolkhoz.

 

 

Fermer

Arrest and deportation (Original version in Russian)

Juliana remembers when the Soviet political police arrived at their house in Kaunas and her deportation to Tajikistan.