We spend a lot of our time waxing lyrical about how wonderful Lithuania is; how the architecture impresses us, the nature inspires us, the superb hotels and restaurants spoil us, and how impressively this small country has moved on since independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 – yes only 1991! In leaps and bounds, Lithuania has become a most attractive, forward-thinking nation, energised by both young and old, proud to show what they are made of! And they are made of strong stuff, that’s for sure…
We’re pleased to share this blog piece by Anne Chambers, about the recent exhibition by artist Jenny Kagan at Dean Clough in Halifax, England. Unfortunately, the exhibition has now ended, but hopefully it will find a new exhibition space soon…
Trip to Halifax
Not everyone’s choice for a holiday destination but there was a reason for a visit to Halifax. Having a daughter who lived and worked in Lithuania for a couple of years, my attention was drawn to “Out of Darkness”, an exhibition at Dean Clough. Jenny Kagan’s parents were of Jewish descent and spent time in hiding in Lithuania during World War ll. Jenny brought her creative skills as a theatre lighting designer to a story so emotive and informative, setting it in the dark, dank Viaduct Theatre space of Dean Clough. This effective staging involves all our senses, taking us on a painful journey.
Those of you who are similar in age to me may recall businessman Lord Joseph Kagan, manufacturer of Gannex raincoats, friend of Harold Wilson. Jenny is his daughter.
“Out of Darkness” tells of the struggle for survival of Joseph and Margaret Kagan along with their families and friends in the Kaunas ghetto. Having visited Lithuania several times I have learned a lot about more recent struggles of its people in their fight for independence from Communist rule. Museums in Vilnius and Riga tell of the harrowing times before the Wall crumbled and the Iron Curtain was ripped down.
Before my daughter moved to Vilnius I knew nothing of the Baltic States, would have had difficulty naming them or placing them on a blank map. Now, having visited all three nations, I have a great affinity with the countries and their people. Jenny Kagan’s story adds another dimension to my knowledge of the history of Kaunas and man’s inhumanity.
Jenny’s exhibition opened at the end of May and runs until 10th July. I was a latecomer to the event but, as it states in the accompanying book, “Out of Darkness” is an evolving story with gaps to be filled. If there are further opportunities to visit the show please go, it will be a memorable experience.
A number of our clients have visited Lithuania on tailor-made trips to explore their own family heritage. In fact this is how Baltic Holidays started, when our founder Phil Teubler returned to Lithuania with his father to visit the old family home. To return to Lithuania and undertake family research is a wonderful, moving and very rewarding experience and we are here to help arrange your trip should you require. Our guide Linas has shared some very emotional experiences with clients when visiting old family villages and translating with locals, sometimes even discovering long-lost relatives and friends. These trips always warm our heart, and remind us why we put our local knowledge and experience to good use, helping others discover and enjoy our destinations! Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss your plans to visit Lithuania or the the Baltics.