Rimantas Jasas collection
The collection shows the life, work and activities of the Lithuanian historian Rimantas Jasas (1929-2002). Jasas never called himself a dissident. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he did not speak much about his involvement in underground (samizdat) literature, and saw himself only as a professional historian. The files in the collection show his close ties with the dissident movement, especially with the Soviet dissident and political prisoner Vytautas Skuodis (1929-2016). Jasas was involved with the samizdat journal Perspektyvos (Perspectives), the most highly thought-of publication by members of the intelligentsia.
Vilnius Žygimantų gatvė 1, Lithuania 01143
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Name of collection
- Rimantas Jasas collection. Fond 287.
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection shows the life, work and activities of the Lithuanian historian Rimantas Jasas (1929-2002). Jasas never called himself a dissident. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he did not speak much about his involvement in underground (samizdat) literature, and saw himself only as a professional historian. The files in the collection show his close ties with the dissident movement, especially with the Soviet dissident and political prisoner Vytautas Skuodis (1929-2016). The collection holds Jasas’ correspondence with Skuodis in 1964-1967. These letters cover mainly the situation in Soviet Lithuania regarding the historic heritage. For example, in one letter Skuodis writes about the criticism by some ideologists of the reconstruction of the Medieval castle in Trakai (see F. 287-667, page 23). Jasas was involved with the samizdat journal Perspektyvos (Perspectives), the most highly thought-of publication by members of the intelligentsia. According to the historian Valdemaras Klumbys, Jasas contributed to Perspektyvos as an author, and he distributed issues of the journal among his historian colleagues. For example, the historian Liudas Truska usually received copies of Perspektyvos from Jasas.
Although Jasas himself tried to keep a distance from Soviet ideological initiatives, he was not the kind of person who would participate in personal informal anti-Soviet or non-Soviet networks. The collection indicates that he was rather unhappy and frustrated at his failed career as a professional historian. According to the historian Ingė Lukšaitė, Jasas and two other colleagues decided to leave the Lithuanian Institute of History in the 1960s. It was a form of silent protest against the declining level of academic research. Personally, Jasas hoped to get a position as head of the Manuscript Department at the Library of the Academy of Sciences. But Jasas did not get this position, mainly because of his family history (his mother had been deported to Siberia, his father lived in the USA, and his father’s brother Antanas Jasas [Jacinavičius], as a general in the Soviet army, had been executed during Stalin’s purges in 1937-1938). He became an ordinary worker in the library, overloaded with various kinds of technical work. Jasas' diary illustrates his everyday life very well, giving a picture of his frustration and his critical view of the reality of the life of the intelligentsia. It shows how angry he was at the formal show of activity that was very often made, without any real scientific point, just ‘inventing’ work. For example, in his diary, he describes a conversation with the historian Romas Batūra. According to Batūra, a group of established historians, the head of the Department of the History of the Soviet Union at Vilnius University Leščius, Professor Lazutka and other close friends, took 20 years just to prepare and publish the First Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and they were thinking of working on the Second and Third Statute, even though these had already been prepared for publication several years before by the historian Vytautas Raudeliūnas. But Raudeliūnas (who was an ex-deportee to Siberia) was stopped, because the main aim of this group was to have a regular income ‘till the end of their lives’ (F. 287-515, page 40).
Description of content
The collection consists of 1,442 files. It was received from Rimantas Jasas, who himself worked in the Manuscript Department of the Wroblewski Library. The collection covers a wide chronological timeframe. Because of Jasas’ professional interests and his research about palaces and estates in Lithuania during the Medieval and Early Modern periods, the collection holds many copies from that time.
In the sense of cultural opposition, the most interesting items are the correspondence with the dissident Vytautas Skuodis (1929-2016), and Jasas' diary.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
Date of founding
Place of founding
Lithuania, LT-01102, Vilnius, Žygimantų g. 1
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
- No publications
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
Žilys, Saulius , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, March 06, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection