Balys Sruoga – Forest of the Gods

u_TUHN In Lithuania it is fairly common for someone in their late twenties or thirties to know stories of Concentration Camps directly from their grandparents. Not very common, but it happens. I heard one in elementary school, when one girl brought her grandmother with her to tell that story to us on a memorial day. I also heard one from a very lucky family member. She grew old and now has great-grandchildren, as rare of those chosen for camps could claim to have. In her case, young soldier ran ahead and told them to leave everything and run hide in the fields. Others were told that the house is empty and after raiding it – never returned. That’s a story of a very lucky person.
Balys Sruoga is a Lithuanian author and this book, Forest of the Gods, is his memoirs from Concentration Camp. He was taken there as part of the “intelligentsia” as we call them here, but I guess it’d translate more into a “well educated person who other people would believe if he spoke bad of this or that political fraction or regime”. And were it not his amazing skills of sarcasm and satire, this would be an extremely tragic book. Instead, the tragedy behind his words of swollen, bleeding legs, of constant hunger, of cold and beatings for nothing, is only visible after you laugh at his wits of how a drunken soldier got stuck on electric fence.
It was very interesting to read this. To see different people and human nature in them all. Some cried after they had to beat a prisoner, but couldn’t NOT beat them, for it was their job and if they disobeyed – they risked ending up in same camp with them. Some beat them and then secretly brought them food, so to sustain the life of those poor men and women. Others turned a blind to them going on dates, smoking or not working much out of lack of strength. And then there were those who enjoyed their work, the beatings, the yelling.
There’s not much I can tell of this book without repeating the history. I just suggest you read it or go on and just watch the movie, which isn’t very good, but aint too bad either. For this book, I’ll give it 4 out of 5, it was good indeed. Tho it lacked the ending. And, sad but true, author died barely few years after he entered the freedom and decent life again. He was a hansom and definitely very talented man.

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