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A Difficult Age: Vilnius, 1939–1949

Over the decade between 1939 and 1949, Vilnius changed profoundly. During this period, political control in Vilnius changed six times, ushering in wave after wave of campaigns to Lithuanianize, Germanize, and then Russify and Sovietize the city. Ordinary life was thrown into complete disarray and the identity of the city’s population was permanently altered. The Jewish community had been murdered and Poles expelled, replaced by Lithuanians, Belarusians, and Russians. The urban face of Vilnius also changed. This exhibition explores all of these transformations through a collection of works of art, photographs, documents, and architectural plans. They reveal profound loss, the wounds of war and their enduring scars, as well as the longing felt by those who remained in Vilnius. 

This exhibition is dedicated to Vilnius and its people, whose painful history went untold for many years. Today’s Vilnius doesn’t just belong to us. It also belongs to those who came before us and who loved this city no less than we do today.