After Reading, Share with Others: The Chronicle of the Catholic Church of Lithuania - 50
From 17 June, the Church Heritage Museum invited you to visit an installation in the bell tower of Vilnius Cathedral dedicated to the fiftieth anniversary of "The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania". Visitors was able to interactively experience the dangerous work of distributing "The Chronicle", symbolically becoming collaborators and boldly "freeing" the knowledge trapped in the "cage" of Soviet censorship. By carefully reading the reports published in the pages of "The Chronicle", as well as fragments of the criminal files of the collaborators, they were able to look at a variety of historical photographs and other information related to the activities of "The Chronicle", and to carefully take the most interesting or shocking pages outside.
The publishers of "The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania", like the representatives of the Soviet regime, did not expect in the spring of 1972 that an unsightly magazine printed by primitive means could have such a lasting, destructive effect. Nevertheless, the first issue of "The Chronicle", produced and distributed 50 years ago, became a significant landmark in the history of 20th century Lithuania. The publication and distribution of "The Chronicle" was a clandestine, illegal and very dangerous activity. From the very first issues, the Soviet security services devoted large forces to the fight against the disseminators of free speech. The publishers, for their part, took the most precautionary measures: they worked (or changed their place of work) in the dark, changed typewriter fonts, avoided handwriting, and hid in the conspiratorial homes of trusted people, often not leaving them for weeks before a new volume of issues was ready. Perhaps the most effective measure was the fact that even the contributors to "The Chronicle" themselves did not know exactly who the real editorial board was.
The principle of "whoever you get the underground press through, pass the material to them" was also used to escape repression. However, it was extremely difficult to avoid the carefully knitted network of collaborators recruited by the KGB. During the 17 years of publication of "The Chronicle", many of the collaborators were subjected to constant harassment, their homes were repeatedly searched, and they were equipped with listening devices. Some of them were arrested, interrogated and sentenced. 23 persons were prosecuted for publishing and distributing the newspaper, and 63 persons were subjected to so-called "preventive measures".
On the initiative of fearless men and women, information about the discrimination of believers, violations of human rights and freedoms, and events in the life of society in occupied Lithuania and other Soviet countries, which the official Soviet Lithuanian press was inclined to conceal, reached the West, was translated into European languages, and was broadcast on the airwaves, until it became an undeniable witness of the brutality and, eventually, the collapse of the Soviet system.
The installation in the bell tower is complemented by audio recordings from the archive of "The Voice of America" radio, as well as information stands in the cathedral square, which invite visitors to learn more about the history of the publication and distribution of "The Chronicle".
The installation is on display in the bell tower of Vilnius Cathedral until 31 September 2022.
Curator of the exhibition Alina Pavasarytė
The Architect: Povilas Vincentas Jankūnas
Funding for the museum is provided by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, Vilnius Archdiocese
Photos: Lithuanian Special Archive
Sound recordings: Central State Archive of Lithuania, "The Voice of America"
For more information: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +37052697800