Voodootaur An angry wheeze through the teeth. People died, yes, they kntga forced to work until they no longer were able to walk, they were starving, always ill, etc. Suddenly, from the depths of the yard, surface two black men. Not a single corpse moved, blinked, stared. Balys Sruoga diev Today he is dragged by four, tomorrow I may be bounced around by one leg — for bals trivialities, a corpse should not feel insulted. No, — it was not gods that returned; within it settled denizens of the deep, similar to devils.
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The hostages were sent to the Stutthof Concentration Camp near Danzig. With his health ruined, Sruoga returned to Lithuania where he died. Till the end, he refused to cooperate with the Bolshevik demands to write propaganda for them. Forest of the Gods, which is a prose work of his remembrances from Stutthof, already translated into Russian, Polish, French and Latvian, is presently being translated into English by B.
Arizona State University. Following the short but potent comment about Forest of the Gods, are a few chapters from the English translation. Of course, their the Reds demands to stay within "Soviet realism" were not very pleasant — but even this demand did not interfere with his greatest work of art, which without a doubt will make his name famous in the entire world.
Such incredible brown concentration camp glimpses no one has yet given It is difficult to believe that such a piece was written by a person sentenced to die On the white sands, sifted into hills though the hands of a superior force — tall and spindly pines in the guises of yeshiva students. On the hillsides — birch trees, so sickly, so impoverished, as if the sun herself forgot about these orphans, her foundlings. On the slopes and slants — huckleberries, blueberries, lingo berries braided, wove themselves into a succulent green carpet dotted with multicolored berries.
In the furrows, pits, and cross-wings — clumps of bog grasses, sedges, and cowslips. Once, a long, long time ago, this was the bottom of the sea. It was as if during a storm the waves unexpectedly froze, unexpectedly hardened, and the north winds sprinkled their crests with white sands.
This little place nestled itself on the shores of the Baltic Sea, forty five kilometers east from the city of Danzig. Until very few knew of this isolated corner. Next to it stagnated a, small moribund town, almost a village, Stutthof, the kind which Germany had thousands of. This little town was connected to Danzig by an asphalt highway and an obsolete railway. And herein dwelt the most boring people in Europe — Prussian Germans, submerged in everyday spiritual poverty, venerating the policeman and the kitchen, superficial order and ale; they could go without their daily bread for an entire week, if only during the holidays they would be allowed to pompously promenade though the town streets and receive a chance to bang on the big hollow drum.
Even if the souls of these citizens were somehow police overwhelmed, after wading into the mossy area, they felt slightly elevated. The name of this place alone would remind them that there is still this or that in this world without a policeman, and without ale.
Forest of the Gods! Once, a long time ago, in this same forest dwelt the gods. Unique gods. Not Germanic in origin. Not Odin, not Thor. There lived the last of the Lithuanian gods. Until , on weekdays, only berry picking women and mushrooming pensioners clumped through this Forest of the Gods; occasionally, a bedraggled hunter would blindly wander in. Otherwise, it was empty and barren, except for the pathetic rustlings of slender pines, as if they soughed in tearful sighs, remembering those times when the joyful gods raised their revelries.
In , the Forest of the Gods suddenly rallied, resuscitated, revivified as if the ancient gods had returned to it No, — it was not gods that returned; within it settled denizens of the deep, similar to devils. For all the concentration camps, the primary concern — the worry, that some one in the world would find out what goes on and how, behind the barbed wire barriers. News at large about life of those fenced in could stir up various unpleasantries for the camp owners.
It could happen that one or another would get angry, and start to shout, and call the foreign landlords barbarians. Why is that all necessary?
When someone decides that a little more comfort in the camp would be a nicety, then when all outside ears are deaf and all outside eyes are blind and do not interfere with the employee propaganda, that is the time to ingratiate oneself with the camp landlord, adulating his cultural and creative talents. The Forest of the Gods was far from neighboring eyes and ears. There were few residents in the area and these same ones were — the reliable adorators of the powerful buffoons of this world.
And most important—the geographic location of the Forest of the Gods was such, that the tenants under the pine tree arcades could not even daydream about removing themselves from the hospitality of the camp. On one side bordered the Baltic Sea, so carefully guarded during the war. On the other side — the famous gulf; on the third side —the huge two-forked Vysla with its channel and canal system; the fourth — a very narrow peninsula, which separated the sea and the gulf.
A runner, breaking out from the Forest of the Gods, whichever way he turned, would still end up in the water or in the hands of the police. In the Fall of , the first new settlers transferred themselves here: a band of SS men and a few hundred desheveled striped paupers, largely Danzig area Poles sentenced to die. In the forest, about one half meter high and even with the sea, was the area where the first tattered tents were erected — officially opening the concentration camp.
Thus began the chopping of the forest, uprooting of stumps, leveling of earth, flattening of hills, filling in of marshes, transportation of gravel and rocks, assembly of barracks, erection of a giant edifice — the housing of the commanding officers and administration.
The blueprints for the camp were colossal with space for more than one hundred thousand prisoners, ,so the construction was far from being finished even in First Night We arrived at the place of our unknown destination right in the middle of the night.
They rolled us out of the truck, and set us up in rows of five men by a huge red brick building overgrown with trees. Germans always knew how to organize Our beautiful perspective dreams were suddenly shattered when appearing from the devil knows where, an SS fellow, rather tall and skinny, crooked, with a flattened nose, under which he muttered something, began to wave his fist along our noses.
High, wide gates are seen ahead, intertwined with barbed wire. Some sort of shed is hung on the gate. Above it is a red lamp, pushed forward. From the shed, the snout of a machine gun sticks out, or some such aberration Behind the shed, behind the gate — a long narrow yard, lined with these funny little hovels.
Suddenly, from the depths of the yard, surface two black men. Waving fat sticks, they quickly run to get us. One is tall and stolid with a voice which stands out as the singing dragon from the German opera, "Ziegfried.
A sharp curt command drove us up to one of these funny hovel like barns which showed itself to be living quarters. The black night men stopped by the door. One on one side, the other — on the other. The Ziegfridish mouth bellowed with relish: — Carry the pallets from one barrack to the other!
With Jurgutis, I stood first in line — we were the first to step through the mysterious doors, guarded by two dark men. Jurgutis and I were no exception — everyone got the same. Anyway you look at it, the customs of this land are strange!
The third time around we already learned to stick out the pallets instead of our necks. Unfortunately, our discovery came too late: the pallets were already carried over. Again the gargling operatic command: — Go inside, in the barrack with the pallets; Lithuanians lay against that wall, Poles — by that one, Byelorussians — through the middle.
The sticked men, like senators of some kind, — once again by the door. But when two hundred people want very much to jump through a small door very quickly — usually the door suffers. This time the sticks suffered: they broke, poor things. We tumbled, we toppled over as best we could, ignoring the ordered arrangement. Well, well, — we shall see. The man of the bruiser species announced himself inside: he will be our boss for this night and for him, who will disobey, there will be — oho!
Having established this type of order, this bruiser began tramping around the bosses. He snorted over there, snorted, swore, swore, ever slower and slower, until he became quiet. Are you kidding! Suddenly he succulently cursed and again began tromping around. Who has watches?
Who has money? All this will be taken from you. We would be wisest to give it all to him. Well, who has gold? Who— watches? A voice — shouting from the void. Two hundred people laying like lifeless flies. Irate at our rudeness, he began to step through us. Some kind of telling scuffle. The quickened panting of two men. An angry wheeze through the teeth. Suddenly — some kind of breathless blow, something heavy and soft hit against the boss with good intentions and then buffeted to the floor.
No one saw. Kickers and fools. Oh God! The raging bruiser, no longer having the guts to step through the sprawled out forms, began clouting those laying near the boss with his stick — those which he could reach.
The bruiser simmered down after knocking a few more sides and necks with his stick. A human — not a machine: he tires. He breathed with difficulty, burning with rage.
Lietuvių literatūros lobynas: Balio Sruogos „Dievų miškas“