Pagegiai - 100 years of Lithuanian loneliness
I have not written anything about my native Lithuania for a long time. In the fifth decade, it is becoming more and more difficult for me to find something new here. Nevertheless, discoveries regularly occur and one of the last was a small town on the outskirts of the country calledPagėgiai.
For centuries, here was located the German, or more precisely even the Prussian settlement of Pogogen, and in fact the very Lithuanian history of Pageziai will not even reach one hundred years. But how rich in events were these hundred years, radically changed the look of the town! This whole Lithuanian history is easily traced in the modern look of Paggyai.
And yet at the moment this place remains for the whole of Lithuania in the suburbs and a very rare Lithuanian, if he is not from these lands, has been here.
Interested? Then go ahead!
The unusual history of Pagegiai is directly related to its location. The town is located just a few dozen kilometers from the Russian-Lithuanian border, somewhere halfway between Telšiai and Sovetsk. We just went toKaliningradvia Sovetsk, and on the way they didn’t deny themselves the pleasure of making a short stop in this small town.
The first thing that strikes him is cleanliness and order. And it was in the month of March!
The second thing that surprised us was the most interesting architecture for the province. There is something to see in Pagegiai. Moreover, the absolute majority of the buildings were built here after the town was incorporated into Lithuania in 1923. From the five centuries of German-Prussian history, virtually nothing is left.
Architecturally, Pagegiai is more like Kaunas than neighboring Tilzit-Sovetsk. How did that happen?
Once upon a time, these lands were inhabited by the ancient tribes of skalvs, which over time, like the neighboring Prus, were completely assimilated and dissolved among the neighboring peoples. Six centuries ago, these lands were conquered by the Teutonic Order, and later became part of East Prussia. But while the Germans reluctantly settled on the other side of the Neman, so the villagePegegenIt has long been inhabited mainly by the Lithuanians. Not for nothing, these lands are called Little Lithuania.
The transformation from a small village to a regional center, as is usually the case, happened thanks to the construction of a railroad and a highway through the village towards Memel.So Pegegen became a major transportation hub with all the ensuing consequences.
After the war, this part of East Prussia came under the control of France. After a small hybrid war in 1923 (I already talked about it in some detailin materials about Klaipeda)Pegegenturns intoPaggyaiand together with the whole Klaipeda region it becomes a part of Lithuania. And here begins a new story of this place.
The proximity to the rich Tilsit makes this place extremely popular among Lithuanians. Within just one decade, the population of the town has increased fivefold, new houses are being built en masse, enterprises are being opened, streets and roads are being designed. By 1933, more than 4 thousand people lived in Pagegiai, there were three banks, three hotels, several taverns and even a library! On Fridays, a mass of people gathered at the largest horse market in these places.
Under the personal patronage of the Lithuanian President Antanas Smetona, a huge three-story building of a new gymnasium is being built. In turn, the German part of the city’s population opens its agricultural school, later also converted to a gymnasium.For the Lutheran part of the population, a stone church was built at the same time, and a year before a new Catholic church was being built.
Unfortunately, the dawn of the town ended abruptly and permanently in 1939 with the annexation of the entire Klaipeda region by Germany. In a matter of days, a city and a half thousand people leave the city, almost all enterprises are closing, the streets and houses are empty.
At the beginning of the invasion of Germany into the Soviet Union, not far from the town, the Germans organized a camp of prisoners oflag-53. It lasted only one year, and during this time about 20 thousand nameless Soviet soldiers remained forever in the Pagegyay land. Now only a small memorial reminds of this terrible place.
After the end of the war, Pagegyay re-enters Lithuania, but this does not really affect the situation in the city. After all, instead of rich Tilsit, now the half-ruined and ruined Sovetsk is becoming a neighbor, to which former glory and wealth also never return ...
Nowadays, Pagegyay is a town with a population of 1,500 people and no particular future prospects. Nevertheless, it may be interesting to its almost perfectly preserved pre-war buildings.
See for yourself these interesting buildings of Lithuanian Kostruktivism. Many of them are very interesting today.
The history of the local Catholic church is rather unusual. During the Second World War, its building was severely destroyed. In Soviet times, the church was demolished and a fire station was built in its place. At the same time, the church tower was preserved, which the firefighters used for their needs.
In 1997, the fire station was completely rebuilt and the church opened again. True, it now looks very different than the pre-war. This is clearly seen in old photographs of the preserved tower-bell tower. And the new building has clearly become an ornament of the city! A rare case of successful reconstruction ...
Not far from here is the very Smetonov gymnasium. The huge building now houses an orphanage.
Local authorities reconstructed the station square, where once there were noisy horse markets. Now everything is decorous and noble, only completely deserted.
Pagegiai made a favorable impression on me. Especially if you compare it with the Soviet, the opinion of which I already hadnot long ago write. His loneliness and remoteness from the main financial flows in Lithuania did not at all spoil Pagegiai. Quite the contrary.
Nevertheless, his future can be directly linked with the development of the Kaliningrad Territory in general and Sovetsk in particular. If Russia is separated from us by an iron curtain nothing good and the residents of Paggyai should not wait. But still I want to believe that the future has this edge ...
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