The Pavilion of the Soviet Baltic Republics at the 1941 All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow: Historical Fragments Based on the Conversation of Dmitry Vorobyev (Дмитрий Воробьёв) and Giedrė Jankevičiūtė (Summary)

Annex (PDF)

The present appendix to the compendium of articles on inconvenient artistic heritage is a publication of an oral history source. We have compiled it together with Dmitry Vorobyev from Moscow, an enthusiastic researcher and expert on the history of the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy (Russian: Vystavka dostizheniy narodnogo khozyaystva, abbreviated as VDNKh). We became acquainted in January 2021, when Dmitry approached me asking for assistance in gathering information on the stained-glass pieces that had been installed at the Lithuanian SSR pavilion (1954), and were being remade based on the surviving iconographic materials and fragments of the originals. In our ensuing correspondence Dmitry shared his vast knowledge of the history of this exhibition complex. I inquired if he would agree to write or talk about an inconvenient heritage object that had hitherto been particularly poorly covered in Lithuanian historiography – the pavilion of the Soviet Baltic Republics (collectively referred to in the Soviet context as “Pribaltika”, literally, “the region by the Baltic Sea”) opened at the then All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (Russian: Vsesoyuznaya Selskokhozyaystvennaya Vystavka, VSKhV; it was the official name of the exhibition before WWII) in the spring of 1941, just a few weeks before the war between the USSR and the Third Reich. In a symbolic affirmation of the occupation, incorporation, and beginning Sovietization of the republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as new additions to the Soviet empire, their national displays were housed in one of the VSKhV’s most modern buildings – the former pavilion of the International Red Aid organisation (Russian: Mezhdunarodnaya Organizatsiya Pomoschi Bortsam Revolyutsii, MOPR) that was no longer relevant in the face of the war.After the war, this pavilion was adapted for the representation of the achievements of Soviet physical education and sports, while separate pavilions were built for the three Baltic states as newly reincorporated Soviet republics. There is ample information on the 1954 pavilions both in the publications by Russian architecture historians dedicated to the general history of the VDNKh and in the national historiographies of the three concerned states, thus the present interview focuses on the 1941 pavilion that has received little to no attention from Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian art and architecture historians to date. Our conversation with Dmitry took place via Google Meet on April 9, 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Provided here is an abridged English version (translated by Jurij Dobriakov) of the transcribed interview (the full transcript of the conversation in Russian is stored in the personal archives of both interlocutors), illustrated with images generously shared by Dmitry from his personal archive. [Extract, p. 239-240]