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Tajikistan

Tajikistan is a historic part of the Persian nation that had been conquered by Russia and then ruled by Soviet Union.

Soviet Union used this far-away land to expell Lithuanians to. Some 1000 Lithuanians and ethnic German citizens of Lithuania were forcibly relocated there in 1945 to work in cotton plantations; they had to live in windowless shacks made of straw and forced to suffer malnutrition. Some 300 died the first winter and merely 300 were still alive by the time Stalin died and persecutions subsided (giving a 30% survival rate).

Qurghonteppa town (once known in Russian as Kurgan-Tyube) was the center of Lithuanian expulsions. It's cemetery still has many Lithuanian bodies, although the graves are crumbling. The members of Lithuanian youth initiative "Mission: Siberia" (that came to take care of Lithuanian graves there in 2011) constructed a small monument for the expelled Lithuanians. Architect Algis Vyšniūnas had prepared a project for a much bigger monument, but the local stone could have been used only for a much smaller and simpler one that reminds of a memorial plaque. Word "Lietuviams" ("For Lithuanians") is written on it.

Participants of Mission Siberia 2011 stand near the small monument they have built at Qurghonteppa Lithuanian cemetery. Photo by Mission Siberia.

An earlier Lithuanian expedition (1991) by exile survivors erected a cross in Qurghonteppa with Lithuanian and Tajik inscriptions "For the Lithuanian exiled people, who suffered and died in Tajikistan while being innocent in years 1945-1946" (author: D. Gediminskas). The website of Lithuania's embassy in Kazakhstan informs that the cross has been since destroyed "due to Afghanistan war" (Afghanistan is merely 50 km away).

Lithuanian expellees also lived in the surrounding towns and villages of Vakhsh, Uyali, Kuybyshevsk, but little remains there as the cemeteries have been largely destroyed. The exile in Uyali has been especially fierce - out of 50 people merely 9 survived the first two years.

While nominally only the ethnic German minority of Lithuania was targetted for expulsions to Tajikistan, the pretexts of such persecution included "being a teacher of German language", "having a relative living in Germany", "married to a German", "being Lutheran" or "having a German-sounding surname" - therefore, many Lithuanians were expelled as well.

During the later Soviet era when the genocide subsided, Tajikistan became popular for Lithuanian mountaineers as it had some of the Soviet Union's highest mountains (non-Soviet mountains were inaccessible to most Lithuanians at the time as Soviet Union did not permit them to leave the Soviet Union). After doing the first accents they would often give Lithuania-realted names to the peaks. Thus there is Lithuanian peak (6080 m), Donelaitis peak (5837 m, named after the first person who wrote fiction in Lithuania), Čiurlionis peak (5794 m, named after the Lithuania's best known painter). There are many other Lithuanian-named peaks in Pamir. However, it should be noted that while these names are well known in the Lithuanian mountaineering community, actually they are typically not listed on any maps or non-Lithuanian online sources about Tajikistan.

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