A seminar for coordinators of Tolerance Education Centres and school leaders

On 24 – 25 August, a seminar for heads of schools and coordinators of Tolerance Education Centres took place in the Alytus region.


The coordinators of Tolerance Education Centres in Alytus and its district proposed to organize the seminar in the Alytus region. The seminar “Links between History and the Present” was aimed at getting acquainted with historical and cultural objects related to the history of the 20th century and at discussing together the themes of historical memory.

The seminar for the educational community started with a visit to the Kurnėnai School, the construction of which was financed by Laurynas Radziukynas, a native of the area. The school was built in 1936, and all the materials for its construction came from the United States of America. They were bought and shipped to independent Lithuania by Radziukynas, who lived in Chicago.

According to the guides who led the tour of the school complex, Laurynas, who came from the village of Kurnėnai, used to walk 10 kilometers every day to school, situated in the village of Miroslavas, and he promised himself to make sure that the children of the village had a school on site. After graduating in Warsaw, he went to the USA, where he earned some assets and gave the promised school to the children of his village.

Later, the seminar participants visited the Alytus Synagogue, which was restored a year ago and regularly hosted cultural events. Afterward, the teachers went to the Alytus Museum of Regional History, where they learned about the history of Alytus and about a street in Alytus that commemorates the First World War – 27August 1915. After getting acquainted with the museum’s expositions, the participants of the event were welcomed by a lecture on “The formation of Russian historical consciousness” by the International Commission member, historian Assoc. Prof. Dr. Algirdas Jakubčionis. In his lecture, the historian summarised Russia’s expansionist policy in the Middle Ages, and the modern period, and analyzed the current and contemporary issues related to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The other day of the seminar was devoted to the anti–Soviet resistance. The participants went to the village of Kasčiūnai in the Varėna district to get acquainted with the Dainava District partisan command headquarters in the homestead of partisan Juozas Jakavonis–Tigras. In the autumn of 1945, Juozas Jakavonis–Tigras, together with other partisans, set up the commanders’ headquarter of the Merkis Brigade in his parents’ homestead. In 1945–1946, Juozas Vitkus-Kazimieraitis, the commander of the Southern Lithuanian partisans, was hiding and working in this historical place together with the commander of the Merkis Brigade, Adolfas Ramanauskas–Vanagas.

From Kasčiūnai village, the teachers traveled to Merkinė. Mindaugas Černiauskas, Director of the Regional Museum, continued introducing the partisan war in Lithuania by elaborating on the key commanders of the Dainava Partisan District, telling their fates and quoting their diaries.

At the end of the seminar, when discussing the places seen, the stories, and thoughts heard, everyone agreed that every region of Lithuania is another page of history, and when opened, it reveals new things.

The seminar was attended by 40 educators from 20 Tolerance Education Centres. The event was organized by the Secretariat of the International Commission in cooperation with the Tolerance Education Centres in the Alytus region.