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Oral history interview with Jonas Mekas

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

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    Oral history interview with Jonas Mekas


    Interview Summary
    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.)
    Jonas Mekas
    Navazelskis, Ina
    interview:  2018 June 29-2018 July 01
    creation: Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

    Physical Details

    2 digital files : MPEG-4.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
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    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Mekas, Jonas.

    Administrative Notes

    Ina Navazelskis, on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History Branch, conducted the oral history interview with Jonas Mekas on June 29, 2018 and July 1, 2018 in Brooklyn, NY.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:05:54
    This page:

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