TE15 Lithuanian Honey Cake

Irena: Life Should Be Clear

As the Nazis retreated from Vilnius, German soldiers were running along the rooftops, setting buildings on fire. The entire Old Town was in flames. It was so hot in our apartment that the wallpaper was peeling away from the walls. Next to the window stood a buffet, and on it was a painting of the Holy Virgin Mary of the Gates of Dawn. I can remember praying to that painting and asking that the spreading fire bypass our building. That time misfortune spared us . . . On July 13, 1944, the Soviets took Vilnius and the shooting stopped. At around lunch time there was a knock on the door. It was the composer and choirmaster Mr. Konradas Kaveckas, a close friend of Mrs. Ladigienė’s. He was living on Klaipėdos Street at the time and, taking advantage of the restored calm, had come to see how we were doing. I told him that the rest of the family had gone to stay with Mr. Stabinis, and so the two of us decided to walk to Žirmūnai together. I can remember the terrible sights that we saw as we walked through the Old Town and then along the Neris River: collapsed buildings; streets scattered with the corpses of Russian and German soldiers, intestines and brain matter spilling from them; streams of blood, already dry, on the roads. . . . Fires were still raging in some places. The city looked so awful! But, strange as it may sound, life did not stop for a second. As we approached the Neris, at the spot where King Mindaugas’s Bridge now stands, a boatman was already waiting to take people to the other side of the river. All you needed was a little bit of money. So,


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