Journey into the Backwaters of the Heart: Stories of Women Who Survived Hitler and Stalin
A Fulbright grant enabled me to travel to Lithuania to record the oral histories of women and men who were former partisan fighters, liaisons, or supporters of Lithuania's post World War II armed resistance against the Soviet Union. I also spoke to Lithuanian Jewish Holocaust survivors and listened to the stories of women who survived Stalin's deportations to Siberia and Tajikistan. To hear these stories I traveled to remote rural locations, bumping down dirt roads in my Honda Civic. I sometimes slept in haylofts, helped out with household chores, or sat behind the table, as the Lithuanian saying goes, accepting the hospitality of my hosts. One visit was seldom enough. Often after hours of talk, we cried together, but more often we laughed. In 2007-2011 when I conducted these interviews, the people I spoke with were already in their seventies and eighties. The stories they told to me were detailed and precise. I discovered that the memories that remained most powerful at the end of these women's lives were memories of loves lived during times of trial and hardship. As I listened, I was continually amazed that people who had experienced torture, exile, loss, trauma, held one emotion close to their hearts: That emotion was love. Each story told to me, at its core, was a love story. That is why this collection of life stories is a journey into the backwaters of the heart.
Scotts Valley, CA
English Language and Literature
Sruoginis, Laima. "Journey into the Backwaters of the Heart: Stories of Women Who Survived Hitler and Stalin", CreateSpace (2012).