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Oral history interview with Jonas Mekas

Oral History | Accession Number: 2018.303.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0977

Jonas Mekas, born on December 24, 1922 in Semeniškiai, Lithuania, discusses being one of six children (five sons, one daughter) of Elžbieta (Jašinskaitė) and Povilas Mekas, a Protestant farming family in a predominantly Catholic country; being a bookish teenager; being 16 years old when the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania; attending high school in the regional capital of Biržai; distributing clandestine, underground anti-Soviet publications; the German occupation of Lithuania in 1941; continuing his underground activities, this time against the Germans, transcribing and distributing news bulletins from the BBC; publishing poems and cultural articles in regional newspapers (the New Biržai News), which were officially sanctioned by the occupying German authorities (some of these publications carried antisemitic articles as well); the theft of his typewriter, after which he feared imminent arrest; deciding to flee Lithuania along with his younger brother Adolfas; their arrest after being taken from a train by German military personnel; being transported to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany; escaping from the camp with his brother after eight months; hiding near the Danish border until the war ended about two months later; spending four years in a displaced persons camps; immigrating with his brother to the United States; and arriving in New York, NY in 1949. (Mr. Mekas died on January 23, 2019, half a year after this interview was conducted.)


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Jonas Mekas
Interviewer
Ina Navazelskis
Date
interview:  2018 June 29-2018 July 01
Geography
creation: Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Language
English
Extent
2 digital files : MPEG-4.
 
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:39:48
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn619022