In the summer of 1941 Nazi Germany occupied Lithuania, but the Nazis were unable to form Lithuanian legions for their army. In revenge, in March of 1943 they arrested a group of Lithuanian intellectuals and sent them to the Stuthoff concentration camp. Among these was Balys Sruoga, a writer, specialist in literature, and a professor at Vytautas the Great and Vilnius universities. He considered totalitarianism the greatest enemy of mankind. In Stutthof it fell to his lot to experience the horror of the Nazi system of violence, and several times he narrowly escaped death. But still another tragedy awaited him on his return to Lithuania in 1945. His wife, an historian, and his daughter, fleeing from Soviet occupation, had gone west as had thousands of other Lithuanian scholars, artists and writers. The cruelties of Soviet occupation, the trains with Lithuanians exiled to Siberia had forced Sruoga to send them a warning: "Don't return home." He never saw them again.
After the war, Sruoga wrote in a few months a book about the Stutthof concentration camp called Dievu mėskas 'Forest of the gods'. This is one of the first memoirs in Europe about the Nazi concentration camps. In it the process of dehumanization, which the totalitarian systems perpetrated, is exposed from within. Unlike many other works of this genre, here an attempt is made to conceal fragile human nature under external irony, laughter through tears, a screen for what cannot be completely told. But the book was received with hostility by the Soviet system because of its subtle irony, which did not allow a note of sentimentality to thrust its way through in the presence of the brutality and meaninglessness of death. The book was not published until about a decade later, when Europe had more or less had its fill of this kind of memoir. It is entitled "Forest of the Gods," after the name of the swampy place in which the Stutthof concentration camp had been built. Sruoga's health never recovered after Stutthof, and he died in 1947.
In the selection given below, the repressed voice of the humanist Sruoga (a voice which frequently recurs in this book) breaks through when he sees the Stutthof camp's "team of klipatas." Sruoga had invented the new word klėpata to denote the lame and crippled people who could hardly move, the physically injured and morally broken prisoners, out of whom the desire to live had been beaten and who no longer wished to resist death. His 'team' does not resemble living people, but a moving crowd of ghosts. The Nazis didn't kill the Stutthof prisoners immediately, but turned them into floundering shadows, klėpatas.
Here, Nazism is treated as contempt for the human being and a rejection of the ethical and cultural norms of millennia of human history. The writer depicts the forced death as an act of degradation of the world, rejecting all of the values which had existed until the present time. It is not the horror of death that is accentuated, but rather its senselessness, its outrageous, disfigured, befouled image. It is beyond the realm of natural relationships and natural feelings. It is unimaginable to measure it with the emotions of pity and sympathy. This death does not even evoke protest, because it is unclear to whom to protest.
In this selection we encounter a few phraseologisms: duma nurýti 'to smoke', mauske ismčsti 'to take a strong drink', nustóti prõto 'to go mad'. The book was translated into English by Balys Sruoga's granddaughter Ausrėne (Aush) Bylā in 1996 (Vilnius: Vaga). A few changes have been made in the selected part of this translation in order to adapt it better for English speakers.
Mėrsta zmónes kãro laukuosč baisiosč kanciosč.
Bčt tenai - visė lýgus.
Ten tāvo mirtės ir kancios siokiõs tokiõs prasmes tųri: del kuriõs nórs idejos kariáujama, del tevynes, del láisves...
Õ ciā - niekur nieko! Jokiõs prasmes!
Niekas táu jokiõs pagálbos neteiks.
Niekas taves neatjaus, nepaguõs, i mirties pãslapti pakeleivėngos méiles zodzių nepalydes.
Seniau, bent kituosč krastuosč, kariamájam bent paskutėni nóra paténkindavo - dúodavo paválgyti, duma nurýti, láiska parasýti, kókia mauske ismčsti...
Õ ciā - pāspiria kója - ir vėskas.
Baisus bųvo kitė naikėnimo lãgeriai, kur, budavo, ātveza kãlini ir tuojau nuzųdo.
Bčt tās pāts zųdymas faktinai vyko ir Dievu mėsko padángej.
Skėrtumas bųvo tiktai tasai, kād ciā zmõgu nukankėndavo, ciulptč isciulpdavo jõ sveikãta, jõ jegās, versdavo ji mirti ės bãdo...
Kurė lãgeriu rusės geriau atitinka musu ámziaus kulturos laimejimus, dievāz nelengva butu nuspresti.
Pagaliau, - tai individualaus skõnio reikalas...
Naujõkas, pėrma karta sāvo gyvenime isvýdes klėpatu kománda, lýg prõto nustója.
Nč mirties jám baisų, - baisų sėto isniekinto zmogaus vaizdo.
Ir nč tíek zmogaus, - baisų sito isniekinto, subjauróto, sųdergto mirties vaizdo!
Mėrsta zmónes kãro laukuosč baisiosč kanciosč. Bčt tenai - visė lýgus. Ten tāvo mirtės ir kancios siokiõs tokiõs prasmes tųri: del kuriõs nórs idejos kariáujama, del tevynes, del láisves...
Õ ciā - niekur nieko! Jokiõs prasmes! Niekas táu jokiõs pagálbos neteiks. Niekas taves neatjaus, nepaguõs, i mirties pãslapti pakeleivėngos méiles zodzių nepalydes.
Seniau, bent kituosč krastuosč, kariamájam bent paskutėni nóra paténkindavo - dúodavo paválgyti, duma nurýti, láiska parasýti, kókia mauske ismčsti... Õ ciā - pāspiria kója - ir vėskas.
Baisus bųvo kitė naikėnimo lãgeriai, kur, budavo, ātveza kãlini ir tuojau nuzųdo. Bčt tās pāts zųdymas faktinai vyko ir Dievu mėsko padángej. Skėrtumas bųvo tiktai tasai, kād ciā zmõgu nukankėndavo, ciulptč isciulpdavo jõ sveikãta, jõ jegās, versdavo ji mirti ės bãdo...
Kurė lãgeriu rusės geriau atitinka musu ámziaus kulturos laimejimus, dievāz nelengva butu nuspresti. Pagaliau, - tai individualaus skõnio reikalas...
Naujõkas, pėrma karta sāvo gyvenime isvýdes klėpatu kománda, lýg prõto nustója. Nč mirties jám baisų, - baisų sėto isniekinto zmogaus vaizdo. Ir nč tíek zmogaus, - baisų sito isniekinto, subjauróto, sųdergto mirties vaizdo!
People die on the battlefields in horrible agony. But there, everyone is equal. Your death and suffering have some kind of meaning: you're fighting for a purpose, for your homeland, for your freedom...
But here - nothing anywhere! No meaning! No one will give you any help. No one will comfort you, console you, accompany you to the mystery of death with a parting word of love.
In earlier times, in other countries, they granted a final wish to the one about to hang: they gave him (something) to eat, (a chance) to smoke, to write a letter, to down a shot of liquor... But here they give you a kick, and that's all.
The other extermination camps, where they brought in a prisoner and immediately killed (him), were atrocious, too. This same killing took place under the skies of the Forest of the Gods; the only difference was that here they tortured a person to death. His health, his energy were sucked dry, they made him die of starvation...
Which type of camp better complements the achievements of our century's culture? God knows! (It is) not easy to decide. After all, it's a matter of individual taste...
A newcomer witnessing the detachment of cripples for the first time in his life, it is as if he is losing his mind. Death is not horrible (for him) - this sight of a desecrated man is horrible. And not only (the image of the) man, but even the desecrated, disfigured, befouled image of death is horrible.
There are 6 pure diphthongs and 16 mixed diphthongs in Lithuanian. The pure diphthongs consist of two vowels and are the following: ai, au, ei, ie, ui, uo. Each of these can be stressed or unstressed. As with the long vowels, if stressed they can have either the circumflex intonation (marked by tilde) on the second vowel, or the acute intonation (marked by acute accent) on the first vowel. A diphthong with acute intonation will have a heavier stress on the initial element, e.g., láisve 'freedom', méile 'love', píeva 'meadow'. Thus, the initial element will be held longer than the second. Just the reverse is true for a diphthong with the circumflex intonation, e.g., laukas 'field', vaizdas 'view, sight', paguõsti 'to console'.
There are two types of pure diphthongs: gliding diphthongs (ie, uo) and compound diphthongs (ai, au, ei, ui). In pronouncing the gliding diphthongs, we do not feel a phonetic boundary between the first and the second element. The Lithuanian ie has no counterpart in English, It may be thought of as similar to the vowel of 'beard'. When this diphthong occurs in initial position, there is a tendency to pronounce it as though there were a j in front of it: ieskóti 'to look for'. The diphthong uo also has no counterpart in English; it can perhaps be compared to the "uo" of Italian 'buono'.
Both elements of the compound diphthongs are clearly marked. ái is similar to the 'ai' of English 'aisle'; ai is somewhat similar to the English 'a' in 'able'. áu is somewhat similar to the 'ou' of American-English 'out'; au may be compared to the Canadian English 'ou' in 'out'. There is no such diphthong as éi in English. It can be roughly compared to the English 'ai' in 'sail'. ei is quite similar to the 'ei' in 'weight'. There is nothing like ui in English; ųi (which is relatively rare) sounds something like a very rapidly pronounced 'phooey'.
Diphthongs in which the vowels a, e, i, u are followed by l, m,n, r are known as mixed diphthongs. In the mixed diphthongs, as in the pure diphthongs, either the first or the second element may be stressed. If the second element is stressed, a tilde (~) will be written over the l, m, n or r, e.g., kartas 'time', lengvas 'easy, light'. The second circumflex element is half-long. If the first element is to be stressed, an acute acent is written over the letters a and e (the acute element is half-long), but a grave accent is used over the letters i and u (the acute element remains short), e.g., padánge 'the skies', kélti 'to lift', mėrsta 'dies', pėlkas 'grey'. In international words, mixed diphthongs with short e and o are used: fčrma 'farm', bōmba 'bomb'.
The unstressed diphthongs sound like ai, au, ei, ui, etc., but the unstressed syllable has less amplitude than the stressed: vaidmuõ 'role', kartųs 'bitter'. Some other diphthongs (eu, oi, ou) occur only in international words, e.g., Európa 'Europe', kolōidas 'colloid'.
Most nouns of the third declension are of the feminine gender, but a few such as dantės 'tooth', vagės, 'thief', zverės 'beast', debesės 'cloud' are masculine (they have -ui in the dative singular). All nouns of the third declension have the ending -is in the nominative singular. The genitive singular helps to distinguish third declension nouns from those first declension nouns with the nominative singular ending -is, cf: nom.sg. brólis, gen.sg. brólio 'brother' (1st declension) and nom.sg. sirdės, gen.sg. sirdies 'heart' (3rd declension).
In the genitive plural some nouns of this paradigm have the ending -u, e.g., debesu 'clouds' after a hard consonant, whereas others have the following ending after a palatalized consonant -iu, e.g., rusiu 'kinds'. This can be explained historically: the former nouns are traced back to the 5th declension (consonantal stems), the latter to the 3rd declension (i-stem). There is a strong tendency for masculine nouns of the 3rd declension to shift to the 1st declension (ia-stem), cf:
Some nouns can be declined either according to 1st or the 3rd declension, e.g., deguõnis 'oxygen', grobuõnis 'plunderer', veliónis 'the deceased'.
In colloquial Lithuanian and the dialects, the feminine nouns may have two alternative forms in the instrumental singular: one of the 3rd declension (i-stem) and another of the 2nd declension (io-stem), e.g., sirdimė and sėrdzia 'heart'; ugnimė and ugniā 'fire'; zuvimė and zuviā 'fish', etc.
móteris 'woman' and obelės 'apple tree' have two alternative forms in the genitive singular: móters, obels and moteries, obelies.
The forms of the 3rd declension are as follows:
|Nom sg||zuvės 'fish'||vagės 'thief'|
All nouns ending in -us (hard stem) and -ius (soft stem) belong to the fourth declension. They are all masculine. Those nouns which have the soft stem (iu-stem) have the plural declension exactly like the first declension (ia-stem). The 4th declension nouns are not numerous. They may obtain inflectional forms of the 1st (ia-stem) declension, e.g:
On the other hand, 1st declension nouns ending in -jas have the endings of the 4th declension -au in vocative singular, e.g., destytojau (nom.sg. destytojas) 'lecturer', vejau (nom.sg. vejas) 'wind'; and locative singular, e.g., destytojuje, vejuje (vejyje is also used).
The noun zmogųs 'man', 'human being' is inflected in the singular according to the 4th declension; in the plural it is inflected according to the 2nd (e-stem) declension (see bellow).
Below are paradigms for the 4th declension nouns sunųs 'son', ámzius 'age' and zmogųs 'man':
|Nom sg||sunųs 'son'||ámzius 'age'||zmogųs 'man'|
The number of nouns belonging to the 5th declension is not very large, and some are irregular. To this declension belong feminine nouns in -uo, -e (gen.sg. -ers) and masculine nouns in -uo (gen.sg. -ens). They are a continuation of the ancient consonantal n, r and other stems. The consonantal stems have been retained only in the genitive singular. In all other cases, except the nominative singular, consonant stem nouns are now inflected like i-stem nouns. In certain cases some of these nouns have forms of the 1st declension.
In the instrumental singular the masculine nouns akmuõ 'stone', vanduõ 'water', piemuõ 'shepherd' have the endings of the 1st declension (ia-stem): ãkmeniu, vándeniu, píemeniu; the feminine nouns sesuõ 'sister' and dukte 'daughter' have two alternative forms of instrumental singular: seserimė, dukterimė (i-stem) and seseria, dųkteria (io-stem).
The noun menuo (its alternative form is menesis) 'month' is declined according to the 1st declension.
suõ 'dog' is irregular. In the nominative singular suõ has an alternative form suvā and in the genitive singular its alternatives are sunies and sųnio.
The forms of the 5th declension are as folows:
|Nom sg||vanduõ 'water'||sesuõ 'sister'||dukte 'daughter'||suõ 'dog'|
In addition to the simple past tense (or preterit) discussed in Lesson 1 there is another past tense, the frequentative past, which denotes an action which took place several times, frequently, at repeated intervals in the past. It can be translated by such English expresions as: 'I used to...'; 'I kept...'; I 'would...'. To obtain the frequentative past tense forms, we must drop the infinitive ending -ti and add the suffix -dav- plus the preterit endings: -au, -ai, -o, -ome, -ote, -o.
The method of formation is the same for all three conjungations. The stress is always on the same syllable as in the infinitive.
A past habit can be expressed analytically by the use of the parenthetic form budavo 'used to be' and the present of the verb, e.g., Baisus bųvo kitė naikėnimo lãgeriai, kur, budavo, ātveza kãlini ir tuojau nuzųdo 'The other extermination camps, where they brought in a prisoner and immediately killed (him), were atrocious, too'. Repeated past events that occurred on a specific occasion cannot be expressed by the frequentative past tense, cf: Jės zaisdavo dvė vãlandas 'He used to play two hours'. Vãkar jės zaide dvė vãlandas 'Yesterday he played two hours'.
Here the frequentative past tense paradigms of three verbs áugti 'to grow', tureti 'to have' and skaitýti are given:
The future tense is formed by dropping the -ti from the infinitive and adding the future tense suffix -s(i)- plus endings: -siu, -si, -s, -sime, -site, -s.
The stress is always on the same syllable as in the infinitive. In the 3rd person an acute is replaced by a circumflex stress: tureti 'to have'; tures '(he) will have'.
Some verbs with a monosyllabic stem shorten the root vowel in the 3rd person, e.g., inf. puti 'to rot'; 3 fut. pųs '(it) will rot'; inf. lýti 'to rain'; 3 fut. lės '(it) will rain'.
Certain consonantal constractions or simplifications are characteristic of the future tense: s + s = s; s + s = s; z + s = s; z + s = s, e.g., mčs-ti 'to throw' and mes + siu = mčsiu; 'I will throw'; nčs-ti 'to carry' and nes + siu = nčsiu 'I will carry'; zirz-ti 'to whine' and zirz + siu = zirsiu; 'I will whine'; včz-ti 'to transport' and vez + siu = včsiu 'I will transport'.
The future tense denotes a concrete or generalized action in the future, e.g., Greit ateis ziemā 'Winter will come soon'. The form of the future tense may also denote willingness, determination, intention, likelihood, threat, etc: Ās jái niekadā neatléisiui 'I will never forgive her'.
The future tense paradigms for the verbs áugti 'to grow', rýti 'to swallow' and včzti 'to transport' are given below:
|1st sg||áugsiu 'I will grow'||rýsiu 'I will swallow'||včsiu 'I will transport'|
The verb buti 'to be' has different (suppletive) stems: es-, bu- / bu-. In the 3rd person present the unique stem yrā '(it) is, (they) are' is used.
Its paradigms for the present, preterit, frequentative and future tense are as follows:
|1st sg||esų '(I) am'||buvau '(I) was'||budavau '(I) used to be'||busiu '(I) will be'|
Also, more recent forms created by adding the formants -n- or -v- exist, e.g., 1st sg. bunų, buvų 'I am', 3rd buna, buva '(it) is, (they) are', etc. These forms convey the meaning of a regular process. The athematic 3rd person form esti '(it) is, (they) are' has this meaning also.
The use of the personal pronouns is similar to that of English. 1st and 2nd person pronouns do not substitute for nouns. They refer either to masculine or feminine nouns. Only 3rd person pronouns can refer to both persons and non-persons, e.g.,
One must remember, however, that the 3rd person agrees with the word it refers to in number and gender.
1st and 2nd person forms are usually used without any pronoun:
The case of the pronoun is determined by its use in the clause in which it occurs, e.g.,
The pronoun jái 'her' is feminine singular because it refers to Editā. It is in the dative case because it is the second object of the verb pérduoti 'to give'. In the clause, personal pronouns may function as subjects, objects, predicatives, adverbial modifiers of place, e.g., Jės sedejo saliā manes 'He was sitting next to me' (subject and adverbial modifier of place).
The 2nd singular pronoun tų 'thou' is the familiar form; it is used to address animals, children, close friends, members of the immediate family, and God. The polite form jus is used whenever one addresses persons who are not members of the above-mentioned groups. This usage is practically identical with the use of 'du' and 'Sie' in German. Another respectful word támsta 'you' is considered old-fashioned. The forms pāts, patė 'oneself' are not as formal as jus 'you', but are used only rarely.
The forms of the personal pronouns are as folows:
|1st person||2nd person||3rd person Masculine||3rd person Feminine|
|Nom sg||ās 'I'||tų 'you (thou)'||jės 'he'||jė 'she'|
|Nom pl||mes 'we'||jus 'you'||jie 'they'||jõs 'they'|
Special forms of the personal pronouns may be used in the dual:
They have the same endings as dų (masc.), dvė (fem.) 'two'. There are some demonstrative dual forms (e.g., tuõdu, tiedvi 'those two'; siuõdu, siedvi 'these two', anuõdu, aniedvi 'those two') and interrogative dual pronouns (e.g., kuriuõdu, kuriedvi 'which two'), but they are used much more rarely.
The pronouns abų (abųdu), abė (abi\dvi) 'both' have only the dual meaning. As the dual number of other word classes has almost disappeard, dual pronominal forms are used with the plural forms of nouns, adjectives and verbs. However, in Modern Lithuanian the dual pronominal forms are usually replaced by plural forms.
Possessive forms indicate that an object belongs to some person or persons. This meaning is usually expressed by the genitive form of the personal pronouns. The personal pronouns ās 'I', tų 'you' ('thou'), and the reflexive pronoun have separate possessive genitive singular forms māno 'my', tāvo 'your' and sāvo. They differ from the genitive singular manes, taves, saves used in other functions, cf: Kur māno knygā? 'Where is my book?'; Paláuk manes 'Wait for me'; Negavau tāvo láisko 'I did not receive your letter'; Nepazistu taves 'I do not know you'.
Possessive pronouns can function as attributes and predicatives:
|Personal pronoun||Possessive Attributive||Possessive Predicative|
|ās 'I'||māno 'my'||māno 'mine'|
|tų 'you, thou'||tāvo 'your, thy'||tāvo 'yours'|
|jės 'he'||jõ 'his'||jõ 'his'|
|jė 'she'||jõs 'her'||jõs 'hers'|
|mes 'we'||musu 'our'||musu 'ours'|
|jus 'you'||jusu 'your'||jusu 'yours'|
|jie 'they'||ju 'their'||ju 'theirs'|
|jõs 'they'||ju 'their'||ju 'theirs'|
Besides the possessive genitive forms, the pronouns mãnas, manā 'my', tãvas, tavā 'your', sãvas, savā exist, but are rarely used, e.g., Ciā sãvas krãstas 'Here is my homeland'. The substantivized forms manėskis, manėske 'my,', tavėskis, tavėske 'your', musėskis, musėske, 'our', jusėskis, jusėske 'your' are also used to indicate relatives or friends:
The reflexive pronoun saves, etc. generally refers to the subject of the sentence, whatever person the subject may be. Therefore in English it may be translated as 'myself', 'yourself', 'himself', 'ourselves', 'themselves' depending upon whether the subject is 1st, 2nd or 3rd person and whether it is singular or plural.
This pronoun does not have nominative case and plural. saves is declined as folows:
The possessive genitive sāvo refers to the subject of sentence regardless of its person or number:
In Lithuanian four negative particles are used: the principal particles are nč 'no, not' and nebč 'not (any more/longer)', and also ne and nei 'not (a)', 'not even'. nebč differs from nč in that it is used to negate continuation of an action or state. It is similar in force to English 'no more, no longer' or the like. nč is more common than nebč. It can be used to response to a question: Ar tų gyvenė Vėlniuje? - Nč 'Do you live in Vilnius? - No'.
In Lithuanian, both 'no' and 'not' are expresssed by the same negative particle nč. In the sense of 'no', nč is set off by comma: Nč, ās nemegstu keliaúti 'No, I do not like to travel'. nč and nebč usually precede that word which they negate. They are written together with verbs, adjectives and adverbs:
There is an exception in case of contrast in the clause, e.g.,
The negative particle is not written together with a following noun, unless the noun functions as a lexical compound, i. e. has a separate dictionary meaning:
Jės yrā nč krepsininkas, õ fųtbolininkas 'He is not a basketball player, but a football player'.
The negative particle nč with the verbal form yrā 'is, are' forms a contraction nerā 'is not, are not', e.g., Jie nerā māno gėmines 'They are not my relatives'.
All the verbs add nč to the positive form to form the negative, e.g., válgyti 'to eat' and neválgyti 'not to eat'; paténkinti 'to satisfy' and nepaténkinti 'not to satisfy'. There are, however, two exceptions: buti 'to be' and eiti 'to go'. These add only n, e.g., Ās nesų zurnalėstas 'I am not a journalist'; Mes dár neiname namõ 'We do not go home yet'.
The direct object of the negated verb must be in the genitive rather than accusative case, cf: Jė prarãdo vėlti 'She lost hope'; Jė neprarãdo vilties 'She did not lose hope'.
Contrary to English usage, the negative must be repeated, e.g., Rėmas niekadā niekur nieko nesãko 'Ri\mas doesn't ever tell anything anywhere' (lit. 'Rimas doesn't nothing tell nowhere never'); Niekas táu jokiõs pagálbos neteiks 'No one will give you any help' (lit. 'Nobody will not give you any help').
The particle ne denotes emphatic negation, e.g. Tevas ne nepāzvelge i manč 'Father did not even glance at me'. If two or more coordinated words or clauses are negated, the reduplicated negative conjunction nei... nei 'neither... nor' is used (the predicate usually has the negative prefix in this case). Its meaning is similar to the meaning of nei: Nedziųgino jõs nei pinigai, nei turtai 'Neither the money nor the wealth gave her joy'.