by Mike Levy
Vilnius is a city of ghosts. That may seem surprising for a city that is full of vibrant colours - stunning Baroque churches, castles and Art Noveau buildings. The capital of Lithuania exudes youthful energy and is fully signed up to Western European cafe culture.
Its young people are warm and friendly - they are keen to engage and usually excellent in English; What to engage about? The independence of a newly democratic Lithuania? The price of beer? The best clubs in town? You will find a young person keen to engage on each and all of these topics.
They are also willing to talk about an elephant at the party - or rather two of the beasts: one is the destruction of the city's pre-war Jewish population by Nazis and their local sympathisers; the other is the brutal repression, murder and deportation of the local ethnic Lithuanians by their Soviet masters. Each side has a tragic history to recount: each side seems to deny the the importance of the events of the other: 'my tragedy is much worse than yours'.Read more...