Simon Schama, the British historian and art critic, says that the graves of many generations of soldiers and partisans can be found under the ferns in the Lithuanian woodlands.
My novel deals with Lithuanian partisans in anti-Soviet resistance in the forties and fifties, but there were other partisans too, notably Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis and their local helpers during the German occupation.
One such partisan was Sara Ginaite – Rubinson, who found herself in the Kaunas ghetto but managed to escape into the forest. She lived there for years and helped in the seizure of Vilnius from the retreating Germans.
This remarkable woman ended up in Toronto, where she taught for some years at York University.
Jewish partisans, Soviet partisans, Polish partisans – all of them fought there at one time or another, making the country a field of conflicting loyalties and battles. Picking apart the threads of these loyalties is fraught unto this day – and intensely political.
I won’t even go into the details, but the best thing one can do is inform oneself about all who fought there and why, and this excellent memoir is one that should be included on any list.