sexta-feira, 24 de agosto de 2007


National Heroes

Romas Kalanta (February 22, 1953 - May 14, 1972) is considered a national hero of Lithuania.

He set himself on fire in a public place in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas on May 14, 1972 in protest of the oppression of the Lithuanian language, culture and people by the government of the Soviet Union.

Kalanta used fuel to set himself alight. Due to the need for secrecy at the time, details of the event are disputed. The common belief is that he and a few of his classmates formed a patriot group, and that they held a lottery to determine which of them would have to carry out the mission.

When the authorities began to realize that Romas Kalanta was now a hero to people all over the Baltics, they sealed off the city of Kaunas. Bus and train traffic was halted into the city. There was no public transportation from Latvia or Estonia.

Before the funeral crowds of people from all through the Baltics who had arrived in Kaunas gathered in front of the Kalanta house. They began to shout, "Where is Romas?" When they heard what had happened, their anger and frustration began to grow. They linked arms and headed for police headquarters. Soon the militia appeared with their whips and clubs.

The demonstrations continued for several days not only in Kaunas and other Lithuanian cities, as well as in the other Baltic countries. Other people set themselves on fire.