This wooden, green watchtower is put by a river in the Grutas Park. There are two loudspeakers fixed it and... no explanation what is that. Well, it should have been a watchtower of Soviet concentration camp somewhere in deep Russia (nowhere), I thought. Loudspeakers were used to annouce working prisoners rules and orders and to transmit propaganda music to them, I suppose.
Soviet concentration camps were called Gulags. Gulag was Russian abbrevation of The Chief Directorate of Collective Labor Camps - a branch of Soviet secret police (NKVD, later KGB). The system of gulags was the stage of the worst atrocities and crimes ever committed by a state towards its own citizens. In late 30' more than 30 million people were sent there. It's estimated that about 10-12 mln people had to live and work in Soviet concentration camps during WWII (5% of the total population). It is estimated that at least 10 million people have been killed by this system (documented). Although many historicians told about... even 50 millions death victims... How was it possible?
Well, gulags were never called "concentration camps" by Soviet authorities. Regarding communist propaganda they were labor camps claimed to serve the goal of "reeducation by labor", with a special term "reforging". But in real, they served as death camps by the virtue of extremely hard labor in extremal conditions.
This shack or better to say a shelter was put by a river in the Grutas Park. It was a house of a prisoner of Soviet concentration camp called Gulag, I thought. Well, it looked a little bit idyllic, unnatural as for such terrible place...
REAL MOVING STORY
Well, I got to know from a friend of my father (he passed away a few years ago) or better to say from his youngest daughter (she was my friend) many interesting and very moving, just terrible things on real life in Gulags. Her father was a Pole - a teenager in 1939 living in eastern Galizia, Ukraine now, Poland that time. When Soviets annexed the eastern part of Poland (Ribbentrop - Molotov treaty) his family tried to escape to Romania but they were caught and imprisoned by Soviets. He was seperated from his parents (he never found them later) at age 15 or so and was sent to Gulag. He was released in middle 50' when he came back to his lovely homeland Poland where he was... immediately arrested at the train station (for 6 months) by Polish UB (secret police).
I got to know that they were working hard in forestry industry cutting down trees and throwing them into a river. As to housing conditions in Gulag, in winter, where temperatures lowered to 30-40 degrees C below 0 at night, they used to light a bonfire and lied to sleep in hot wooden ash. At the sunrise they started next day from... throwing dead bodies of those who didn't survive a night and freezed to death...
I found this wooden structure, on my picture, at the edge of forest in the Grutas Park. There was a stage for communist propagandists, I thought. The stage was decorated with a quotation from Lenin - a slogan which I couldn't understand at it was in Lithuanian language.
There were numerous loudspeakers around the Grutas park and there was Soviet propaganda music transmited through them to the visitors. Well, the loudspeakers looked like those I remember from communist Czechoslovakia in 70'. They were fixed on each electricity pole along main streets of Czechoslovak towns and villages. I didn't see them in Poland that time. They were installed exclusively for 1 May parades in Poland that time.
I found this logo of the Soviet lottery put on the top of an old rail car placed by western walkway loop of the Grutas Park. Did it mean that lottery came as a kind of entertainment to deep Russia including numerous Gulags located there. Hmm... I doubt... although who knows.
Well, hundreds of Soviet concentration camps were located in Magadan region - area twice larger than France in the Far East, look at the detailed maps here.
There were a few wooden statues put along the western walking loop in the Grutas Park. They were definetely not monumental and stone/cement or metal Soviet statues, but common, thin and high wooden statues of Lithuania. Were they put there to underline the large difference between the two cultures: Lithuanian and Soviet? Well, not exactly. They depicted 5 Lithuanian top politicians who were strongly against opening the Grutas Park. Haha, is that a new local custom to put statues of enemies in a yard?
There were dolls dressed in costume dresses of each Soviet republic, displayed in the Soviet picture gallery. Those dresses were used for various ceremonies and had to prove freedom of each republic in great family of Soviet republics.
Well, I got to know that many (all?) of those dresses were not at all historical costume dresses of people living in each republic. They were less or more changed by Soviet authorities. Additionally many Soviet republics were multi-national, multi-ethnic and should had no ONE but many costume dresses... The Soviet Union provoked many ethnic conflicts in the republics and used them to rule, in Lithuania conflicts between Poles and Lithuanians for example.
There was this beautiful, wooden bridge, on my picture, put up over the small river in the Grutas Park. The bridge leaded to a structure which probably served as a cafe but it was closed when I was there in June. Pay attention to its architectural design, typical for areas rich in forests, like just this southeastern part of Lithuania.
There was this movable, yellow tank, on my picture, put by local cafe/restaurant in the Grutas Park. There was GIRA and the price list written : 0.5 (liter) - 1.50 Lt and 0.3 - 1.00 Lt. Gira was quite good Lithuanian drink which was made from grains and flavored with fruits. Another drink was "kveisas" (acid :-), a beer-like drink made from fermented birch sap.
There was this large, metal structure, on my picture, put under wooden roof, close to the cafe in the Grutas Park. There was written "Voda gazeerovannaya" which meant carbonated water in Russian. There was a glass (yes, glass = multi-use) and small place to wash a glass after use there. It was typical for the Soviet Union, carbonated water dispenser. Was carbonated water Soviet answer to imperialistic Coca-Cola? :-)
Well, I remember from my kiddy years (70') in Poland, quite different creation of Soviet science: movable carts (with 1-person staff and one glass washed by him after each use) where carbonated water (alone or with sweet, red syrup) was sold. They were common on streets of Polish cities that time.
There was no air-condition both in wooden houses which housed the Grutas Park Museum and Soviet picture gallery. In the last one I found this stove on my picture. There were no humidifiers but there was a frying pan filled with water and put on hotplate of the stove, instead.
Excuse, I am not sure wether it was or it is a local custom. Do you know?