The Green Bridge: Coming to Terms with Vilnius’ Soviet Legacy

Ferguson, James N. (2018) The Green Bridge: Coming to Terms with Vilnius’ Soviet Legacy. In: ICOMOS 19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium "Heritage and Democracy", 13-14th December 2017, New Delhi, India. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract (in English)

During the summer of 2015, the new Vilnius mayor had the Soviet-era sculptures removed from the Green Bridge. Yet, much of this legacy remains in buildings throughout the city. Some of these buildings are even protected under the Department of Cultural Heritage because of their architectural uniqueness or role they played in the independence movement, known as Sajūdis, between 1988 and 1991. This paper addresses the approach the city has taken with regard to its Soviet legacy. Municipal officials, architects and historians have tried to determine what place these immovable objects have in the UNESCO world heritage city, as well as the ramifications of the city’s post WWII history. The Green Bridge and several key buildings will be examined, as they have served as lightning rods in this often heated debate. Vilnius’ Russian-speaking community will also be studied, as parliament members representing this group voiced their opposition to the removal of these sculptures and other actions by the city. As Lithuania approaches its centennial as a modern state, these are questions that define its national identity. Vilnius is at the centre of this discourse, as the city has often found itself divided in opinion, wrestling not only with its Soviet past, but Polish and Jewish past as well. The author, who has been living in Vilnius for 20 years, provides a dispassionate voice to these contentious debates, which have often spilled out into the international media casting unfavourable light on the city. In conclusion, this paper will demonstrate that reconciliation is possible when the conflicting parties choose to bury their ideological differences, rather than use incidents like the removal of the Soviet-era sculptures from the Green Bridge as a means to highlight these differences.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Ferguson, James N.
Languages: English
Keywords: reconciliation; conflicts; cultural identity; cultural significance; russian; soviet architecture; post-soviet countries; soviet modernism; modernism; architectural heritage; sculptures; debates; contemporary history; Lithuania; Socialist realism
Subjects: E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 09. Social and economic aspects of conservation
Name of monument, town, site, museum: City of Vilnius, Lithuania; Green bridge, Vilnius, Lithuania
National Committee: ICOMOS International
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 19th General Assembly, New Delhi, 2017
Depositing User: intern icomos
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 13:06
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2018 14:42
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