Some aspects of school activities in Sintautai area in 1940–1944 (Bolshevik and Nazi time)

Stanislovas Buchaveckas

At the end of the independence period (1918–1940), there was a education network consisting of 11 primary schools formed in the Sintautai Valsčius (rural district) with 15 units (classes) and 15 teachers. The Soviet occupation in 1940 disturbed the natural education development. In 1940–1941 the primary schools were sovietised. Forced thrust of primitive communist ideology, ‘socialist’ illiteracy liquidation campaign without real results, revolution rallies and commemorations, as well as other measures used by Bolshevik party impeded the training of students. In 1940, there was a significant fluctuation of teachers, several teachers sustained professional discrimination. Sintautai Valsčius was one of Lithuanian areas, where schoolteachers suffered mostly from the deportations in June of 1941. Six teachers of total 15 had been deported to remote regions of the Soviet empire.

At the beginning of Nazi occupation, due to efforts of the Lithuanian provisional government, the situation of the pre-Soviet 1940 period had been restored in the education institutions with the education programs and school system structure of the Independence Period. Religion lessons were back in the schools. The crosses appeared again on the walls of the classrooms.

During the Nazi period, however, the work and life conditions worsened for teachers, their salaries went down, but all 11 primary schools were operating. This required not only self-sacrifice of teachers but also the efforts of local people. There were enough people who helped the teachers with foodstuffs and other means. So, in 1941–1944, the schools were the centres important for village communities to show solidarity with teachers and playing role of socialisation and culture propagation. The independence ideals and Christian values were being inoculated for students. The anti-Nazi resistance newspapers also reached the village homes via the teachers of some schools.