The Heroisation Effect and the Ethico-Legal Considerations Behind the Heritage of Lituanica (Summary)

Gražina Kristina Sviderskytė (PDF)

The article discusses the sensitive legal and ethical aspects related to the material heritage of the transatlantic Lituanica flight preserved in Kaunas, the personal belongings of pilots and especially the remains of the aircraft. The transportation of these values to Lithuania immediately after the Lituanica catastrophe in Germany on 17 July 1933, their significance and the prevailing conception are examined in the context of the discourse of heroism and the emerging studies of heroism science. The question is addressed by comparing the latest archival research data with the traditional interpretation of heritage based on heroic narrative: How did American private property turn into Lithuanian public heritage, and why did it acquire the status of a relic rather than a historical value under investigation? Three phases in which the influence of heroisation manifested itself are considered: 1) The preconditions were created by global technological progress, the image of the aviator in the national hero discourse and the establishment of patriotic ideals in Lithuania; 2) After the crash, the valuables were moved to Kaunas in a hurry, without a clear strategy, only after the pilots had been officially granted the status of national heroes; 3) After the transfer of values, the collective memory was concentrated in Kaunas, and the ideological criteria of the nationalists and later the Soviets determined the heroic ideal and the status of the relics. How was the inert concept and condition of heritage influenced by changes in the study and discourse of heroism, scientific knowledge and the development of the culture of memory? The aspect of heroisation consolidates the diverse problematics of Lituanica in an even wider field of research.

Keywords: Darius and Girėnas, heroism, heroisation, heroic ideal, heroic cult, Lituanica