Not Destined to Die
by Juozas Kuliukas
This is a translation of my fathers autobiography, Ne buvo Lemta Zuti. Many thanks to Henrikas and Vida Gasperas for patiently translating it, as my Lithuanian is very poor. I must apologise for some problems with the Lithuanian characters. I will endeavour to fix them in time.
The book was published in
The memoirs of Juozas Kuliukas is a book about a Lithuanian soldier, tossed about but not broken in the bloody whirlpool of World War II. His book, therefore, is called Not destined to die.
The author was destined to live through numerous torments of war. He was put to tests but withstood them all as can be seen from his memoirs. He loved life, fought for it and even in the hardest moments stood up straight and remained a man as his parents wanted him to be.
The memoirs of Juozas Kuliukas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Ist Infantry regiment soldier, later participant of the training company, supplement the tragic history of the Lithuanian army during the Soviet rule.
I was two years old when our family moved from Strošiūnai village to Pilviškiai. We moved into a large house, as I remember later, into a smaller room as the bigger room was occupied by another family.
In our room, by the wall were two beds: in one slept my two sisters, in the other - the parents. There was a cradle by their bed in which slept my little brother Antaniukas /little Anthony/.
As in a dream I still see in the corner of our room a big hanging thing, like a picture, at the bottom of which swung a pendulum and hung two big black chain-held gherkins, producing a sound tick, tock, tick, tock! Only much later I found out it was a wall clock.
At the end of the dwelling-room was a large brick stove where the meals were prepared and the bread was baked. The oven was fired from the kitchen side so it was always warm. On the top of it slept my sister and myself. In the kitchen was another little stove on which mother cooked our meals. The kitchen was used by both families.
Antaniukas was very young. When nobody was looking I would take his dummy to suck . Little brother would start to cry and mother would shout at me telling me not to touch his dummy. It was made from sweetened bread wrapped in a piece of linen.
One early morning mother told my father that her youngest brother Jonukas had died also that his wife Elzbieta looked poorly. Later on we found out that both had tuberculosis. They both died almost at the same time. Mother told us that the relations did not want to go to the funeral for fear of catching the disease. My mothers brother had a daughter Ladziūnė and son Napaliukas. Ladziūne was older than me, Napaliukas - younger. My mothers eldest sister took both orphans. They lived with her for some time to ward off the decease. My mothers mother, my grandma was 80 years old (she was born in 1840 and died in 1946, having reached 106 years old).
A little later I understood that half of our farm was rented to another family and thats why they lived in the next room to us.
Mother would say that in another year we would work the farm ourselves, without strangers - without lodgers.
All sorts of people visited our neighbours. My father was not pleased about this, because they drank and were noisy. I liked to go into that room to listen to what was being said. Once our neighbours said that in Kupiškis two men had been hung. They were very angry about this. After a few years I found that the hung men were some sort of bolshevics.
After a year our neighbours left, but they rented out their part of the land to others. Mother was very unhappy, that she would still have to live with another family. She was aware that it would be difficult to manage the farm by themselves, because the children were small: the oldest daughter (my sister) Afemija was 12 years old, Pauliusė - 10 years, and Pranusė about 6 years. I had just reached 4 years, Antaniukas was just 2 years. My parents had enough problems just raising a family.
Mothers and fathers stories on a warm stove
In the winter evenings our family would climb upon the warm stove. We, the children, loved to hear our parents stories about their life. I retain the story of the start of their friendship.
My father was a very strong, tall man. One autumn he was cutting the rye at my mothers parents. Following her father, my mother tied the shiefs, and through this they became friends and came to like each other. My mothers parents, however, did not allow this friendship, because he was a poor smallholder. What to do? My mother ran away, and secretly wed him. Her angry parents gave no dowry, and did not wish to see her.
My mother said that her parents farm was large, they lived well. Her parents were respected in the region. They had beautiful horses and with pride would drive to Akizava to the church. My grandfather - Jonas Glemža, my grandmother - Elizabeta Glemžienė (Užubalaitė maiden name). They had four daughters and son: the oldest - Ona, my mother, together with Valiuse were twins, the youngest sister - Pauliusė and the youngest was their brother Jonas. My mothers father was very strict, and stingy. In the farm the daughters would have to do mens jobs: till the land, cut the hay. Mother remembered Pyvesos stream. The hay would be cut almost in the water, then it would be carried to a dry place. In places it was quite deep, so the horses would pull the hay with the aid of ropes. Sometimes people would drown. Father would not allow his son to work hard, because he studied in the school in the town. He was unwell wh