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Learning the Nuclear: Educational Tourism in (Post)Industrial Sites


Edited By Natalija Mazeikiene

This book illuminates the educational potential of nuclear tourism and learning about nuclear power in informal and non-formal learning settings. The authors present a case of elaboration of the educational virtual nuclear route in the Ignalina Power Plant Region, Lithuania. Nuclear tourism takes its shape at the junction of several types of tourism – energy, industrial, cultural, and heritage and it becomes a site of outdoor and place-based education, promotes STEM, energy literacy, critical thinking, and environmental skills, and creates a valuable source for virtual learning. The book reveals peculiarities of learning and experience at nuclear power plants and disaster tourism destinations such as the Chernobyl Museum and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

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The Pedagogy of Dissonant Heritage: Soviet Industry in Museums and Textbooks (Linara Dovydaitytė)

Linara Dovydaitytė

The Pedagogy of Dissonant Heritage: Soviet Industry in Museums and Textbooks

Abstract: This chapter examines how Soviet industry is remembered and studied in both formal and informal education in post-Soviet Lithuania. Industrialization of the country coincided with and was forced by Soviet occupation (1940–1990), and the legacy of this industrialization is explored using a concept of “dissonant heritage”. The central focus of this chapter is the in-depth interrogation of five museum displays and twenty history textbooks covering the period of high industrialization in Soviet Lithuania. Content analysis and ethnographical study of these pedagogical sources reveals that there are quite different and even competing narratives around Soviet industry. These range from celebratory stories of technological inventions and rapid growth of new industries to negative narratives about the Russification of the country and contamination of the land. While the image of industrialization as a Soviet colonial project prevails, the work and life of industrial communities remains untold. The absence of working-class experiences not only creates a double dissonance in the heritagization of Soviet industry but also creates a gap between educational narratives and the live memory students encounter in the reality. In addition, the chapter reveals that nuclear energy plays a significant role in the narratives of Soviet industry as the nuclear theme introduces the importance of sensibilities such as nostalgia and fear, into the discourse of “dissonant heritage”.

Keywords: Soviet industry nuclear energy heritage museum textbook Lithuania


The initial idea for the chapter emanated from an observation of growing academic, cultural and artistic interest in the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) and its satellite town Visaginas (formely Sniečkus), situated in North Eastern Lithuania.1 The INPP was built in the territory of Soviet Lithuania between 1975 and 1987, and housed two largest Reaktor bolshoy moshchnosty ←66 | 67→kanalny (RBMK) reactors in the world. Engineered as an ambitious nuclear energy project of the Soviet empire, the INPP was attacked by environmental and national activists following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.2 After gaining independence in 1990, Lithuania decided to close its only nuclear power plant in order to meet the conditions of entry to the European Union, beginning the decommissioning in 20043. Together with the closure of the plant, the thirty-year history of Visaginas as an atomic town came to an end. It seems that the end of the nuclear era in Lithuania motivated the need to begin the heritagization of this quintessential technology and industry of modernity. Yet the process of turning the past into heritage only starts here, and it is complicated.

It is complicated for at least two reasons: firstly, various groups of society relate differently to the INPP and the history of Visaginas. For the nuclear engineers and the majority of the population of Visaginas, predominantly Russian-speaking immigrants from the entire former Soviet Union, that place, represent both the progressive project of modernity and its collapse. For the environmental activists and the majority of the population of Lithuania, the INPP is associated with Soviet occupation – for most Westerners, with an insecure nuclear power station in the East. Yet Storm claims that none of these groups consider the INPP as “their own” heritage.4 After having investigated the INPP in 2010 and included it in an international comparative study, Storm states that “still the Ignalina is activated in neither local nor international context as a means for memory work and future orientation” (2014, p. 95).

Secondly, in post-Soviet Lithuania, the complicated relationship with the past is conditioned not only by the particularities of the INPP as a Soviet nuclear project, but also by a wider range of issues related to the Soviet industrial heritage in general. Until World War Two, Lithuania was essentially an agricultural country. Industrialization began here at the end of the 1950s and became the most important economic and social phenomenon (Misiunas & Taagepera, 1993, p. 183). The Soviet Union, which prized the geopolitical situation of Lithuania, invested huge resources in the country’s infrastructure. In ←67 | 68→Soviet Lithuania, the development of new branches of industry was initiated; new factories and industrial complexes were built resulting in an escalation of rapid urban growth;5 and industry, and, later, services surpassed agricultural employment.6 Industrialization altered the social structure of the society and thus introduced the modern lifestyle and urban culture.7 Therefore, the period of high industry in Lithuania means both Soviet occupation of, and radical change in the society, which subsequently turned away from rural and agricultural towards urbanization and industrialization.

Yet when Lithuania regained independence in 1990, the legacy of Soviet industry did not become heritage. On the one hand, with the change in the political system and the transition from planned socialism to “wild” capitalism, many branches of industry collapsed, factories went bankrupt, and industrial workers lost jobs and had to modify their qualification. Under the circumstances of the swift historical and political changes, nobody was interested in the collapsed industry. On the other hand, there was no place for narratives, experiences and memories of Soviet modernization, urbanization and economic welfare in the post-Soviet politics of memory. The dominant discourse presented the Soviet period as one of loss and trauma (Nikžentaitis, 2013); a negative assessment of the entire period (Safronovas, 2009), the narratives of the perpetrator and the victim, repression and opposition prevailed. According to Drėmaitė, popular consciousness, which identifies national identity with the rural past, associates the heritage of Soviet industry, primarily understood as “alien”, with pollution, a Russian immigrant workforce and poor quality of products: “Industrialization is a Soviet legacy, thus it is not ours” (2012, p. 72).

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the concept of Soviet heritage began expanding and became more varied in Lithuania. Historiography started covering topics related to the life and culture of the society during the late Soviet period alongside the previously dominating political themes of Soviet ←68 | 69→repressions and opposition to the regime; diverse interpretations of the heroic period – the anti-Soviet guerrilla war – emerged. Museums and exhibitions began displaying fragments of Soviet industry, modern lifestyle and urban everyday life.8 The history of the everyday, including the Soviet period, was incorporated into school textbooks dominated previously by the narrative about politics and economy (Bitautas, 2018). Such a change allows us to ask – what is considered to be the Soviet industrial heritage in contemporary Lithuania, how is it interpreted and for what purpose is it created?

The goal of this chapter is to provide a wider context for the heritagization of the nuclear industry in Ignalina by investigating how Soviet industry, including the nuclear industry, is remembered and how people can learn about it in Lithuania today. Two types of pedagogical sources have been chosen for analysis: museum displays and history textbooks. Pedagogy in this text is broadly conceived as a learning process taking place both at the institutions of formal educational and in the realm of broader culture. The latter is defined as “public pedagogy”, which covers various forms and sites of education, including informal educational institutions (i.e. museums), popular culture (i.e. movies), dominant discourses (i.e. public policy) and social activism (i.e. grassroots movements) (Sandlin et al., 2011).

In accordance with critical pedagogy and culture studies, pedagogy is understood both as a practical and a political activity. It is associated not with the transfer of knowledge, but with the formation of experience and subjectivity: “When one practices pedagogy one acts with the intent of creating experiences that will organize and disorganize a variety of understandings of our natural and social world in particular ways” (Giroux & Simon, 1988, p. 12). In this sense, pedagogy is understood as a set of practices, inside or outside of schools, that “organizes a view of, and specifies particular versions of what knowledge is of most worth, in what direction we should desire, what it means to know something, and how we might construct representations of ourselves, others, and our physical and social environment” (Giroux & Simon, 1988, p. 12). Thus, both school textbooks and museum displays may act pedagogically ←69 | 70→through the production of narratives and the creation of experiences that make us think about the past in some ways rather than others.

This chapter analyses five museum displays and temporary exhibitions, and twenty history textbooks recount Soviet industry. Among several science and technology museums open in Lithuania today, I have selected those that are clearly concerned with the industry of the Soviet period, including the nuclear industry. All currently approved9 5th, 10th and 12th grades’ history textbooks covering the history of Lithuania of the second half of the 20th century have been analysed.10 Two interrelated layers of museum displays and textbooks have been examined by using the method of content analysis: the semantic layer that comprises the thematic choices of the museum and textbook discourses; and the layer of material, visual and linguistic realization of the semantics. In other words, according to the general theory of semiology, the question is not only what is being said, but also how it is said.11 Analysis of the museum exhibitions is accompanied by specially conducted interviews with museum workers and study of secondary sources (museum documents, websites, etc.). The main purpose of the research is to find out how Soviet industry is narrated in contemporary museums and school textbooks. The main focus of this study is not only the associations with the past whether negative or positive, condemning or sympathetic, created by the narrative, but also a more complex question inseparable from the study of heritage: what and whose histories are told by the ←70 | 71→heritage of Soviet industry in post-Soviet Lithuania? What role is played here by scientific discoveries, technological objects, industrial management and the life of industrial society? What narratives, memories and experiences of Soviet industry are available for the practices of pedagogy today?

A (Double) Dissonance in Industrial Heritage

It is worth discussing the issue of Soviet industrial heritage (including the nuclear industry in Ignalina) using the concept of dissonant heritage. In their acclaimed book on heritage management, Tunbridge and Ashworth argue that all heritage is inherently dissonant: discrepancy and incongruity is characteristic of any product of heritage (1996). This is related to the very definition of heritage. Heritage is a product not of the past, but of the present, consciously produced with regard to the needs of the present. Heritage is produced by selecting and interpreting the past, thus it always contains a certain message that, implicitly and explicitly, conveys certain values. Due to this selection and interpretation process, dissonance is not a simple byproduct of the production of heritage, but a constitutive part of that product. To illustrate this thought, Tunbridge and Ashworth point out that “all heritage is someone’s heritage and therefore logically not someone else’s: the original meaning of an inheritance implies the existence of disinheritance and by extension any creation of heritage from the past disinherits someone completely or partially, actively or potentially” (1996, p. 21). The heritage produced through selection and interpretation always represents historical experiences of specific social, ethnic, or religious groups and disinherits other groups whose “distinctive historical experiences may be discounted, marginalized, distorted or ignored” (Tunbridge & Ashworth, 1996, p. 29).

In the 1990s, soon after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, persons and their families who had suffered from the occupation regime became the principal group which inherited the Soviet past. The Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees representing them initiated the main museum in Lithuania dedicated to the Soviet past: the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights (founded in 1992, it was titled the Museum of Genocide Victims until 2018). The community of former prisoners and deportees have founded in total around 40 museums and expositions in Lithuania, which, like the main museum, also present the Soviet period through the narrative of terror and resistance (Rindzevičiūtė, 2015). The social group that was clearly dispossessed of the Soviet past was the former working class. During the late Soviet period industrial and construction workers constituted a considerable ←71 | 72→portion of the society making up around 40 % of the total population in the early 1980s. Yet, considering the fact that the Soviet period is a period of occupation, one should not oppose those groups to each other. On the contrary, the membership of both groups – former prisoners/deportees and former workers – partially overlaps. Thus, in this case, we can state that in post-Soviet Lithuania, the former working class turned part of Soviet legacy into heritage (traumatic and heroic historical experiences), and the other part of legacy (historical experiences of work and everyday life) have remained the past, partially history, but have not become heritage. And a portion of the former working class, which consists of Russian-speaking immigrants12 or persons that have not suffered from the regime,13 have become disinherited from the Soviet past.

Considering the heritagization of Soviet industry in post-Soviet Lithuania, one could speak about a double dissonance by which I mean that former industrial communities have been doubly disinherited from both the Soviet past and the Soviet industry.14 On the one hand, after the historical turning point in 1990, the (former) industrial communities did not claim the heritage of Soviet industry as their own (Drėmaitė, 2012) and were disinherited. On the other hand, the issue of social class alone causes dissonance in production of industrial heritage (Tunbridge & Ashworth, 1996). Having referenced industrial museums of Western countries, especially Britain, as an example, Tunbridge and Ashworth state that the main disagreement lies in the question: which and whose stories are being told by former factories and industrial sites. Class dissonance is the most important element when one decides which narrative about the industrial past to choose: that of the technical progress or of the history of work, that of free enterprise or of capitalist exploitation, that of the elite or of the working class (Tunbridge & Ashworth, 1996, p. 78). Class dissonance defining capitalist industry may be relevant also to Soviet industry, which was formed in reality by the ruling class of the Communist Party (or the nomenclature) and ←72 | 73→the lower working class.15 Thus, the question which and whose stories should be told by Soviet factories and industrial sites that are being converted into museums or texts about former industries is open and problematic.

Industrial Heritage: What and Whose Stories?

In Western countries, the heritagization of modern industry started in the 1960s and 1970s as a consequence of and reaction to the end of the industrial era that lasted for 200 years.16 After the collapse of various industries, many factories and industrial sites were closed, demolished or left to decay. At the same time, academics and history amateurs started collecting, preserving and exhibiting industrial heritage, at first in Great Britain and later in other countries. Today industrial heritage is considered to be part of cultural heritage: it is defined by the various legal documents of international organizations, it is included in the lists of values to be protected, some countries treat industry as a symbol of their national identity (Vargas-Sánchez, 2015), and industrial tourism is considered to be an important factor in local regeneration processes (Hospers, 2002).

The most important international guidance document passed by The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH)17 gives the following definition:

Industrial heritage consists of the remains of industrial culture which are of historical, technological, social, architectural or scientific value. These remains consist of buildings and machinery, workshops, mills and factories, mines and sites for processing and refining, warehouses and stores, places where energy is generated, transmitted and used, transport and all its infrastructure, as well as places used for social activities related to industry such as housing, religious worship or education (2003). ←73 | 74→

This universally accepted document relates industry to all areas of life – from science and economics to everyday work and life. From the beginning, however, in the practice of industrial heritage there is an ongoing debate around its principal subject: the history of technology and business or social history of work (Storm, 2014).

In the 1990s, while critically analysing the growing number of industrial museums, Fitzgerald distinguished three widespread ways of showing industrial heritage: the “internalist style”, the “celebratory style” and the “social and cultural historical style” exhibitions (1996). The internalist style is characteristic to the oldest displays of science and technologies that present industry through showcasing technical objects. Machines – steam turbines or locomotives – are exhibited as works of art: intrinsically grand, beautiful and valuable. This style of exhibiting separates industry from the history of hard work, from the wider social and cultural context. The celebratory style exhibitions relate technological objects to people’s stories, but only those of a certain group – industrialists and engineers, and not the stories of workers. Furthermore, they present industry uncritically as a constant technological progress, thus “the worst celebratory style exhibitions are guilty of propaganda” (Fitzgerald, 1996, p. 119). Internalist and celebratory exhibitions conceal complexities, ambiguities and controversies, which are characteristic to any industrial heritage (Cossons, 2012). Those displays remind rather of temples where science and technology are worshipped (Fitzgerald, 1996).

The third, the newest, type of exhibitions links modern technologies to their use and impact on people’s lives. The social and cultural historical style exhibitions focus on the way technologies have affected different social groups, including workers. Those exhibitions use more varied sources; alongside technological objects and documents, they utilize personal testimonies and memories. Yet Fitzgerald points out that focus on the social and cultural impact of technologies does not necessarily make this type of exhibition more analytical and critical. He quotes The Great Railway Show at the National Railway Museum as an example which paid much attention to the travelling habits of the British royal family but told nothing about railway accidents or railway workers’ strikes (1996, p. 124).

Davies adds to this debate by discussing the presentation of work and communities related to that work at museums and heritage sites. She claims that the debate over what is more important – technological equipment or workers’ activities – does not exhaust the subject of work. Any work, industrial activity in this case, creates an entire social and cultural phenomenon: “Work has many socio-political by-products and is not simply a process of performing a ←74 | 75→particular task” (1996, p. 114). Industrial work creates industrial communities, which are characterized by a social and cultural lifestyle defined by their work activities, but not limited to them (for instance, football as an important part of the life and identity of an industrial community). Today the social and cultural historical style exhibitions seek to present an exhaustive image of industrial community life by recounting narratives of work, education, leisure, the everyday and the lifestyle in and around factories and industrial sites.

The aforementioned typology of industrial exhibitions helps us to understand the diversity of ways to show industrial heritage, but in practice those three different types often coexist in one exhibition or heritage project. A good example of the latter are industrial museums and heritage sites making up the Route of Industrial Heritage in the Ruhr area in Germany. The history of local industry is told here in very different ways: from the Engine House in the Zollern colliery, which is presented as a modern temple of industry, to the half-celebratory, half critical display of industrialist life and activities in the former administrative building of the same colliery, to simple, mundane objects such as the half-full bowl of soup displayed as a rare specimen in the Ruhr museum which informs us about the peculiarities of daily life of an industrial worker’s family.18

Industrial Heritage and Nostalgia

Like other kinds of heritage, industrial heritage is strongly related to the question of identity. Heritage, similarly to language or religion, functions as an identity marker. It is used “to construct narratives of inclusion and exclusion”, which usually define a community by outlining its specific characteristics through the difference from another community (Graham & Howard, 2008, p. 5). Heritage is also used in order to support the continuity of identity. The narratives and representations of the past provide the feeling of continuity for the present society, relate the present to the past and simultaneously present the past as a finished stage and opens opportunities for the future. Thus, people’s lives are localized in a “safe” linear narrative that links the past, the present ←75 | 76→and the future. The past, “once translated into heritage”, appears as the basis of identity, which provides “familiarity and guidance, enrichment and escape” (Graham & Howard, 2008, pp. 5–6).

Macdonald relates the movement of industrial heritage to the efforts to preserve and rethink the identity of a community in the changing world. As the need to preserve rural heritage emerged under the circumstances of industrialization, attention to the industrial past emerged during the period of de-industrialization, i.e., in the face of change and loss. By referring to the museums of everyday life, Macdonald argues that such means of heritage help to articulate local and communal identity, to salvage ways of life that have been vanishing and preserve a certain difference and independence while encountering changes (2013). While understanding that the efforts of communities to musealize everyday objects and everyday lives could mean simply a defensive or compensatory reaction upon encountering menacing social changes, she claims that these efforts are still worthy of academic analysis. From the anthropological point of view, “the emphasis on everyday things (and lives) is an ultimate extension of this idea – everything can be salvaged […], and all lives given recognition (in an appropriate identity-displaying agency such as a museum)” (2013, p. 160).

A certain product of heritage is inseparable from the efforts to preserve the past, especially its ordinary, mundane aspects: nostalgia.19 Nostalgia as a longing for a (lost) home is an especially popular and ambiguous concept in post-Soviet memory studies. It is possible to distinguish two ways of using the concept of nostalgia in Lithuanian memory studies: a negative/evaluative one and the neutral/analytical one. The first is used in studies where nostalgia is understood as any remembrance of the Soviet era not marked by clear negative attitudes. In her analysis of the public discourse (such as public holidays, monuments and museums), Čepaitienė notes that post-Soviet memory is framed by two opposite attitudes: the denunciation of the Soviet period and its nostalgic remembrances (2007). Both the interest in Soviet culture (films, art exhibitions, heritage tourism) and positive memories of Soviet everyday life are treated as nostalgia here (Čepaitienė, 2009). Thus, nostalgia not only ←76 | 77→starts mistakenly referring to various memories of the Soviet period,20 but also becomes a negative concept: “Nostalgia for Soviet times is related to anti-democratic, pro-communist, and populist sentiments.”21

Social anthropologists use the concept of nostalgia more productively by treating it as an analytical tool for understanding social memory. While examining biographical narratives of ordinary people, including workers, Šutinienė observes that the interpretations of the Soviet period recorded in autobiographies are different from the public discourse; they include fewer ideological appraisals, stereotypes and “amnesias” (2003). Anthropologists emphasize the ambivalence of memories and evaluations. The analysis of biographical narratives indicates that today people long for everyday life but not for the Soviet system (Klumbytė, 2004), for sociability rather than socialism (Lankauskas, 2006), for the past “not as a good life but as a life lived well – with dignity, pride, a sense of purpose, with social savvy and skill” (Lankauskas, 2015, p. 53). Soviet nostalgia is studied as a social practice which conveys more about the present than about the past. Klumbytė understands nostalgia as a force structuring post-Soviet social life:

“[I]‌n nostalgic reminiscences of Soviet times villagers and marginalized urban residents reclaim visibility, voice their concerns, and appeal for respect, recognition, and inclusive citizenship. By accusing the nostalgics of having a false consciousness and remaking them into social others, the mainstream public […] repeatedly deny their right to a respectful citizenship and exclude them from the post-Soviet modernity project” (2009, p. 110).

Thus, nostalgia here is not a longing for the past, but a comment on current social injustices.←77 | 78→

Nostalgia could also be understood as an important tool for creating personal identity. In their study of the autobiographies of the first generation born during the Soviet period, Žilinskienė et al. note that “ordinary” people remember the Soviet period either neutrally or with ambivalence or nostalgically. Nostalgia appears when the Soviet period is remembered as an important time for forming identity (2016). The biographies of industrial communities allocate a particularly important place to nostalgia. Since the working class and industrial work played a very important role in Soviet ideology, a radical “devaluation” of this social class happened after 1990.22 In the changing political and economic situation, industrial communities encountered not only unemployment and social insecurity, but also an absence of meaning in their life and work. Šliavaitė who has analysed the reactions of the INPP workers to the closure of the plant notes that at least part of this nuclear community grounded their worldview on the ideas of modernity, such as progress and growth. Thus, in the face of de-industrialization, they feel that they are losing not only the economical, but also the ideological foundation (2010a).

Moreover, in the works of anthropologists, post-Soviet nostalgia is “legalized” by comparing the experiences of the Lithuanian population to the experiences of Western societies. For example, one of the most important things that people still hanker after is a standardized life marked by a clear scenario, characteristic of modern societies. Not only post-Soviet, but also post-industrial Western societies long for the stability and security associated with such a life, while trying to deal with the unpredictability and uncertainty of post-modern life (Žilinskienė et al., 2016). The collapse of industry elicits a similar response from local people who can nostalgically remember former industry as the core of a local community, as related both to local history and to the inhabitants’ identities and ways of life (Šliavaitė, 2010b).

Although nostalgia is a longing not only for a lost home, but also for a home that has never existed and has been idealized, it is an important part of individual and collective memory. Anthropological memory studies ascribe a formative function to nostalgia, both in the work of creating identity and in dealing with social challenges. On the other hand, nostalgia rarely appears in its pure form and not all positive or neutral, non-evaluative narratives about ←78 | 79→the past are nostalgic (Lankauskas, 2015). Most often, nostalgia gets mixed with recollections of a different type that make up a complex, contradictory and ambiguous memory.

What’s Industrial in Industrial Museums?

The central museum presenting industrial heritage in Lithuania is the Energy and Technology Museum opened in 2003 in Vilnius.23 This is a site-specific museum founded in a defunct electric power plant,24 which is in a way symbolical, bearing in mind that the basis of modern industrialization is electrification. The museum serves a dual purpose: the preservation of the authentic building of the plant and its equipment as well as the presentation of the history of Lithuanian energy and technology.25 The museum display consists of four themes. The exhibition “Energetics” tells the general history of electricity and the development of the energy industry in the country, while highlighting the Vilnius power plant. The exhibition “Made in Vilnius” presents technologies and various industries developed in Vilnius. The exhibition “Transport” showcases the historical collection of automobiles and motorcycles. The historical part of the museum display is supplemented by the interactive exhibition called “Science and Technology for Children”. This study analyses exhibitions presenting the first two topics.

Fig. 1:Model of Ignalina NPP at the Energy and Technology Museum, Vilnius, 2018. Photo by the author.

These exhibitions use several ways of presenting industrial heritage. The major part of the “Energetics” display is based on the object-centred principle; it ←79 | 80→mostly focuses on displaying technological equipment: steam-boilers, turbines and the plant’s control panel. Models of other Lithuanian electric plants, such as the INPP (Fig. 1) and the hydroelectric plant in Kruonis, are exhibited adjacent to it. Technological machines, accompanied by the labels with limited information, are supposed to fascinate visitors with their shapes, magnitude and authenticity. Here, similarly to art museums, visual and textual didactics providing context, in this case presenting the history of the electric plant, are displayed next to objects valuable in themselves. The internalist style of the display might be illustrated by an excerpt from the annotation of the Turbine hall, which is clearly dominated by technological aesthetics at the expense of human work: “The Power plant’s control panel was installed on a special platform with marble plates framed by oak fillet and decorated by a clock on the top. The control panel was manned permanently by a person.”26

Fig. 2:Fragment of the exhibition “Made in Vilnius” at the Energy and Technology Museum, Vilnius, 2018. Photo by the author. ←80 | 81→

The exhibition “Made in Vilnius” says more about the social and cultural history of local industry, from pre-modern crafts to contemporary laser industry. Naturally, the major part of the exhibition is dedicated to the high industry of the Soviet period. The centre of the exhibition features industrially produced objects, such as sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, television and radio sets, or shoes. Objects perform a dual function here: they represent the products of modern industry (made in Soviet Vilnius) as well as modern domestic appliances, everyday life utensils. The impact of industrialization on the way of life is further emphasized by exhibiting a reconstruction of the apartment typical of the late Soviet period (Fig. 2). The easily recognizable furniture and domestic utensils, the “scenography” of the room and typical interior details (such as a popular domestic plant) easily act as memory triggers for visitors of a certain age, which in turn can invoke nostalgic or other memories. The panels displaying texts and documentary photographs, on the contrary, inform about industrialization as a part of the Soviet regime (by emphasizing such themes as ←81 | 82→planned economy or Soviet customs, e.g., product thefts) and as a force organizing the social life (by portraying the factory as the main source of material and social life for the workers).

Interestingly, the museum presents various industries from Soviet period in a positive or neutral light – whether those are the models of electric plants displayed for the viewer’s pleasure, or a panel presenting local laser industry, which has been a source of pride since the Soviet period. The celebratory style of displaying technologies does not raise problematic questions such as the safety of nuclear power or the manner in which industry damages the environment. In other words, the museum does not participate in the debate on controversies surrounding practically all modern technological inventions and their use. Ambivalence rather than celebration accompanies the theme of industry in relation to a modern and urban life. The museum presents modernization as a Soviet project. Although the exhibition “Made in Vilnius” shows modern objects and the living environment as important markers of modern lifestyle, the visual-textual panels contextualizing the exhibition emphasize Sovietization rather than modernization. This might be illustrated by the visual-textual panel in which the facts of the growth of industry are presented (“In 1985, there were 84 industrial enterprises employing 114,000 people in Vilnius.”). The text with facts is accompanied by a photograph of the interior of a modern flat, its owner hovering dust, and the caption under the photograph declares: “The modernization of domestic environment hardly concealed the abnormality of Soviet life.”

Fitzgerald notes that, despite the fact that technological progressivism “in the post-Chernobyl era” is no longer valid, yet for industrial museums, celebratory style interpretations are still the “common-sense” approach. The reasons for that are the following: the museum’s natural wish to celebrate its collections; popular sources suffused with technological progressivism (books, television, films), which often serve as reference for museum curators, and also corporate sponsorship of a museum or an exhibition (Fitzgerald, 1996). The fact that the Energy and Technology Museum displays (Soviet) industry in a celebratory rather than critical way, thus presenting a partial view of science and technology, could be somewhat determined by its stakeholders. Besides the Vilnius city municipality, other stakeholders of the museum include organizations directly related to the energy and district heating business: National Association of Lithuanian Energy, Lithuanian Electricity Association, AB Vilnius Heating Networks, and Lithuanian District Heating Association.

A further similar example of a museum, only this time funded by a single corporation, is the INPP Visitor Centre (named as The Communication ←82 | 83→Division in the structure of INPP, see the website of the plant). It was founded in 1995 as a department of communication with the society in the then still operating nuclear power plant. Today it functions as the corporation’s visitor centre and is the main arena presenting the nuclear energy industry in Lithuania. The Visitor Centre is established in the administration building; its exhibition modestly occupies one room and the adjacent corridor. The main objects in the exhibition space are the model of the nuclear power plant and models of two repositories for radioactive waste (Fig. 3). The rest of the space is occupied by the free-standing panels featuring short texts and one or several photographs accompanying them. The exhibition also displays an original nuclear fuel channel and the spent fuel cask CASTOR, a couple of dummies dressed as workers of the power plant, and also a collection of costumes for actors who participated in the series Chernobyl, abandoned after the filming in the nuclear power plant.27 Historical photographs documenting the construction of the plant are displayed on the walls in the corridor. A television screen presents a live broadcast of the works at the Spent Fuel Storage Pool.

Fig. 3:The models of two repositories for radioactive waste at the INPP Visitor Centre, 2018. Photo by the author.

It goes without saying that the main focus of the exhibition is on the INPP itself. First, it presents technical features of the RBMK reactor as well as the history of building and operating the INPP. The second important theme is the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant and the handling of the radioactive waste as well as related technological challenges and solutions. The third topic discussed is the natural and man-made radiation; the use of radiation in various industries, including nuclear energy. One could say that the display, despite one panel presenting Visaginas as the satellite town of the INPP, is produced in the internalist style and concentrates solely on the technological aspect of the nuclear industry and the decommissioning of its objects. Yet the INPP Visitor Centre does not function as a traditional museum where the visitors are invited to explore its contents independently. Almost all visits to the Visitor Centre take place in the form of guided tours. Thus, in order to learn how nuclear industry is narrated here, one needs to join the guided tour.28 The ←83 | 84→contents of the tours are mostly determined by the group of visitors, their background knowledge and interests.29

The INPP Visitor Centre organizes two types of visits. The free guided tours take place around the display in the Visitor Centre as described above. Paid tours are organized to the premises of the nuclear power plant, including the reactor hall, the control room and the turbine hall, in which the dismantling of works is being carried out. Thus, the visitors can experience the nuclear power plant in both direct and mediated ways. In both cases the plant is presented or experienced as an exceptional oeuvre of science and technology, surprising in its scale, complexity and (former) capacity, in accordance with what Hecht ←84 | 85→calls “nuclear exceptionalism” (2012). For instance, the story in the Visitor Centre begins with the highlights such as the fact that in 1993, the INPP was included among the Guinness World Records because it produced the largest percentage of the general electric energy needed by the state throughout the entire history of nuclear energetics. The visitors walking around the power plant are astonished by the size and complexity of its premises and equipment, the embodiment of technological expertise and mastery, an experience similar to the admiration of complex and great works of art. Yet a visit to the power plant is also about the fascination with grandiosity and insecurity at once, since we are dealing with highly dangerous technological outcomes such as radioactive waste here. During the tours, questions are often asked about the radiation level; sometimes a strong fear of radiation is expressed.

The participants of tours into the so-called controlled zone are most impressed by the very procedure of entering the power plant. The visitors need to book in advance, their identities are checked, all personal items should be left behind, one has to change all clothes down to underwear, wear helmets, gloves and, in some places, a respirator. After the tour, one not only gets changed, but also radioactivity levels are checked and if they have increased, one might have to take shower. In the power plant that is being dismantled, the same requirements of radiation safety and nuclear security are applied as were in place while it was operating, thus producing some sort of performance involving the participants of guided tours. Therefore, visitors can perceive the magnitude and danger of the power plant as a specific technological object live, through bodily and sensory experience.

The theme of safety is central both to the Visitor Centre and while walking in-situ, yet it is not questioned critically. One of the main references without which no tour can take place is the question of Chernobyl: “The negative shadow of Chernobyl is always near us.” Tour guides discuss this topic with the visitors not as a wider and still unsolved (or unsolvable) problem of nuclear technology and industry, but as a particular case caused by the faulty management of Soviet nuclear industry. Chernobyl is presented not as a disastrous consequence of the nuclear industry, but as an accident that has prompted positive changes such as technological safety improvements in operating nuclear power plants, including the INPP.

A further important topic is the decommissioning of the INPP, i.e., the process that is taking place now, which can be experienced while walking around the power plant or watching a live broadcasting at the Visitor Centre. The decommissioning is presented as a process at least as complex as the construction and management of the most powerful nuclear reactors some time ←85 | 86→ago, because this is the first project of immediate dismantling of RBMK type reactors in the world.30 While briefing the visitors about the challenges of decommissioning, the tour guide mentions that it is still not clear how to destroy radioactive graphite, and the global community of nuclear industry is waiting for the results of an experiment that will be carried out at the INPP. Radioactive waste, its longevity and means of managing it are also discussed during the tours. One of the main facts stimulating the visitors’ (lack of) understanding and imagination is information that approximately 500,000 years will be needed for the used fuel to become equal to natural uranium in terms of radio toxicity. The guide presents another fact as a scientific (and political) challenge: nobody knows yet how the long-lasting radioactive waste will be managed after the 50 years during which it will be preserved in constantly monitored containers.

Depending on the visitor group interests, topics related to the social and cultural history of the INPP are also considered. While visiting the power plant, one has an opportunity to talk to the employees, the majority of whom have been working here since the very opening of the plant. From the people working in the plant one could hear stories about their job and life story, learn why they came to the INPP and how they settled here. The guides also present curiosities of living in a closed city known as Soviet atomgrad. The visitors are interested in the urban development of the city built from scratch, the multinational and bilingual community still living here, the health and diseases of the plant personnel or even fishing in the waters of the Drūkšiai Lake which was used to cool the reactors. The effect of nuclear industry on the environment, similarly to the theme of safety, is not discussed critically. For example, the guide, while talking about fishing, mentions that due to the impact of the INPP, the temperature of water in the lake has risen several degrees, in the wake of which the flora has changed and some kinds of fish have disappeared. Yet she also points to a positive change: more carps have emerged in the lake, and next to the water pumps, one could catch fish with bare hands.

As a place of nuclear industry heritage, the INPP is a paradoxical place. The defunct nuclear power plant, thanks to the complicated and partially ←86 | 87→experimental decommissioning process, is still an actively functioning nuclear enterprise31 and will remain so at least until 2038. Here, the history of nuclear industry is both demonstrated and simultaneously destroyed; although it is practically impossible to destroy it, bearing in mind the longevity of radioactive waste. Perhaps, the planned nuclear waste repositories will at some time become places of nuclear industry heritage. Today the nuclear industry heritage is celebrated via emphasizing the uniqueness of the INPP by pointing out that this was the most powerful nuclear power plant in the past and is an exceptional decommissioning project in the present. Compared to the Energy and Technology Museum, it is interesting that the Soviet story-line is almost eliminated in the narrative of the INPP, although Soviet legacy is vividly experienced during the visit, e.g., through the domination of the Russian language inside the power plant.32 The Visitor Centre presents the INPP as a scientific and technological oeuvre rather than a product of the complex sociotechnical system. Museum narratives emphasize the safety of nuclear industry,33 although physical experiences during the visit may evoke insecurity and nuclear fear.

If both museums with permanent displays under discussion here present Soviet industry as more or less a history of technological innovation, various temporary museum projects rather focus on people’s life around the industries. The first such project was a travelling exhibition “Dream Factories. Industry and Modernism in the Baltic Sea Region 1945–1990” hosted by the Energy and Technology Museum in autumn 2009. Organized by The Workers’ Museum in Copenhagen and the National Cultural Heritage Agency under the Danish Ministry of Culture, the exhibition stemmed from a three-year collaborative scholarly research project carried out at Northern and Baltic universities with the aim “to examine the connections between industry and modernism and explore how technology, industry and modernism have affected the everyday life and culture of the North European people” (Drėmaitė, 2009, p. 142).34←87 | 88→

The exhibition was based on the first-person approach and told stories of the life and work of seven workers at seven different industrial enterprises in Soviet Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as well as social democratic Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Lithuanian case was presented through the story of Algis Mišinis who worked on the construction of the largest industrial enterprise of the 1960s – the Lithuania Power Plant and its satellite city, Elektrėnai. The story of every protagonist of the exhibition consists of six themes: dreams about the factory, work at the factory, factory and home, factory and leisure, factory and the society, and dreams that have been changed. Thus the focus is not on the state or politics but on the role of workers in the process of modern industrialization and how abstract ideas of modernization were implemented in their daily life (Drėmaitė, 2009).

This exhibition not only returned the industrial past to its legal heirs, the workers, but also introduced other important revisions in the discourse around Soviet industry. While comparing the stories of workers in Soviet and capitalist states, common features of industrial societies emerged, such as universal education, healthcare and homes, modern consumption and leisure, mechanized and rationally organized work. In both political systems, according to Drėmaitė, “the directions and ideology of the processes of modernization were identical. We must admit that, despite the Soviet system, there were economic achievements in the Lithuanian SSR as well”35 (2009, p. 157). Yet more importantly, this project focused not only on the historical factual material, but also on subjective memories and emotional experiences. These are the members of the industrial society who share their life stories, dreams, attachments and disappointments. The beginning of high industry is remembered as a period of dreams and faith in a better future; the collapse of industry is perceived as a personal loss: “At the beginning, when we were still young, we believed in a better future. We lived very well then. Yet later disappointment came: it seemed that everything stopped and would not change, whether we do anything or not. After independence, everything started to collapse, many people did not adapt to the new situation” (quoted from Drėmaitė, 2009, pp. 154–155). The exhibition makes it clear that, despite the differences in political systems, people’s dreams about the modernization of life were related to the goals of personal welfare, including material wellbeing.←88 | 89→

The first-person approach is characteristic also of another temporary exhibition organized in quite an unexpected place: at an art museum. In 2017, The M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art opened a community gallery in one of its venues together with the inaugural exhibition, titled “The Great Industry”. The exhibition presented the history of Kaunas as an industrial city as well as the life in two textile factories in the late Soviet period. The exhibition was co-produced together with two former industrial communities which live next to already defunct factories. People’s memories and curious objects from private collections were collected as a basis for the exhibition narrative. The narrative was created around two central figures – two female artists who worked at Soviet textile factories. Both of them were the first artists who went to work in industry; both of them, now in their 90s, are extraordinary personalities. Their personal lives and work stories, together with mundane but curious objects (such as a jacket made of award-winning fabric, examples of special elastic used for female underwear or even an artificial vein created by a textile factory technologist), suggested different nuances in the history of Soviet industrialization and modernization. The exhibition shed some light on industrial production as a place for creativity and discoveries, on gender issues in Soviet industry, and on the participation of Soviet Lithuanian industry in the Cold War competition.

Like “Dream Factories”, the exhibition “The Great Industry” was not so much about industry as technology, but about people who worked in the industry. As such, based on subjective memories and emotional experiences, “The Great Industry” exhibition provoked the question of nostalgia for the Soviet past. The production of a community exhibition is a complex curatorial work involving forging contacts, earning trust, long communication and collaboration with various people. It emerged, however, that one of the main problems in the process of creating this exhibition was the fear of nostalgia. The curator of the gallery, Auksė Petrulienė, herself an artist experienced in community art projects, admitted in an interview: “While inviting people to join the project, I was afraid to encounter nostalgia for Soviet times but luckily, nobody expressed any nostalgic feelings.” Thus, Soviet nostalgia is perceived as a bad thing, which has no place in the museum, even if a part of the society has this feeling. This story can be understood not as the museum’s intention to present a partial view of the past, but as a fear of Soviet nostalgia provoked by the earlier discussed negative concept of nostalgia which prevails in current memory culture.

Fig. 4:A view of the permanent display at Visaginas Museum, Visaginas, 2019. Photo by the author.

The third and last example of attempts to turn Soviet industry into a museum narrative through social and cultural history is the Museum of Visaginas. This ←89 | 90→museum is still in the process of being created,36 thus it is only possible to analyse its realized temporary projects to date. It was founded in 2014 as a department of the Visaginas Culture Centre. The museum consists of a modest display in one hall, several rooms allocated for the office and the collection and one museum worker. Being so small and dependant on the Culture Centre, also still lacking a strategy approved by the municipality, it is still an interesting example of work with the history of industrial community. What is now visible and accessible at the Museum of Visaginas is an artistic installation “Valley of Butterflies”, which contains celebratory wishes to Visaginas written by both the former and current residents of the town (a result of an interactive internet project “Celebrate Visaginas”) (Fig. 4). Together with a small photography ←90 | 91→exhibition documenting the life in the nuclear town, this artistic installation marks symbolically the very orientation of the museum collecting practice.

The rare visitors who see the museum’s collection, stored in several rooms, are surprised when they find archaeological and folk art items here, which refer to the history of the place before the emergence of the town in 1975. Sometimes this is explained as an attempt by Lithuanians working at the Culture Centre “to narrate the history of Visaginas as having pre-socialist layers, and thus reinstall their symbolic authority over the place” (Freimane, 2016a, p. 43). However, ethnographic objects make up only a part of the museum’s collection. It also preserves a large collection of photographs by the main photographer of the town who recorded Visaginas from 1978 to 2003 (they are in the process of being digitalized). The collection also consists of albums, medals, badges and other “souvenirs” that had been owned by various organizations, including the workers of the INPP, as well as items of Soviet daily life and technology (from telephones and photo cameras to collections of cosmetics) and even a dried Christmas tree decorated with Soviet toys. Yet, according to the museum’s curator, they are interested not in old things, but in people’s stories. Mass produced stuffs from the Soviet period usually do not have a clear artistic or historical value, thus only narratives attesting to the experiences, memories and identities of the community can afford them value and turn them into heritage.

While focusing on the testimonies of the community, the museum has several projects in-process. A good example of such an activity is a project about the history of the Visaginas Acrobatic Sports School. It is interesting because it was the only professional school of acrobatics in Soviet Lithuania and also because it was initiated not by the city authorities, but by two sportsmen. The museum volunteers collect interviews with the school’s coaches and their pupils; digitalize their photographs, albums, medals and other things; and create a virtual exhibition on this basis. According to the museum curator, this will be an exhibition not only about some of the city’s past, but also an impulse to rethink the present by demonstrating how even in a Soviet-planned town, unplanned grassroots initiatives could be born “from below”.

Another important aspect is that the museum still does not attempt to expand its material collection and rather concentrates on oral history and the digitalization of private archives. Collecting is perceived here not as collecting exhibits, but as a way to start contacts with the local community and encourage it to create the museum together. The Museum of Visaginas sees itself not as storage of things, but as a tool for people to speak about themselves to others. It is a question for the future what role nuclear industry will play in this story. According to the museum curator, local residents want to talk about the nuclear ←91 | 92→power plant as an important part of the identity of the town; they appreciate the exceptional urbanism and architecture of the atomic town, the particularities of life in it. Yet the life in the town comprises increasingly more varied aspects because most of its inhabitants did not even work at the nuclear power plant. Their personal memories and stories reveal the diversity of the city, which the museum would like to represent. Thus, so far, the narrative about the modern living environment and collective forms of leisure determined by industrial production, whether it was Soviet or nuclear industry, prevail in the Museum of Visaginas. As the museum curator points out, “political systems differ but people’s goals and needs in life are similar”.

Interestingly, museum projects oriented towards (former) industrial communities emphasize not the past, but the present or even the future. Both the community gallery in Kaunas and the Museum of Visaginas stress the significance of the communal and partially operate as places of community activism. While creating the exhibition “The Great Industry”, one of the collaborating communities lost their premises because the municipality cut their funding, thus the museum offered its premises for the meetings of the community members. Moreover, the museum publicized this problem both in the exhibition itself and in the media. The Museum of Visaginas also centres its projects on current urgent issues. For example, the lack of community initiatives from below has served as an inspiration to revive the history of the Acrobatic Sports School. Thus, we could say that social and cultural narratives about the industrial past seek to recover values characteristic to an industrial society, such as social equality, collectivity and optimistic hope for a better future. It leaves aside its negative features, such as unification, the absolutism of rationality or technocratic fundamentalism (Drėmaitė, 2009).

Thus, what is the meaning of industrial in post-Soviet industrial museums and museum projects in Lithuania? One could say that it is both industrial technology and the life of industrial communities. One tendency is to celebrate the achievements of science and technology through the preservation of authentic buildings and equipment, presenting machines as objets d’art and providing the experience of the sublime of technology. Despite the fact that those technologies were created during the Soviet period, they are perceived positively, in the spirit of technological progressivism. A critical evaluation of the Soviet aspect emerges when the impact of industrialization on the society is presented. The modernization of life is understood here first as subjugation of the society to the Soviet regime. The other, opposing, tendency is only emerging via temporary and work-in-progress type projects. They seek to musealize the social and cultural history of Soviet industry through collecting and displaying ←92 | 93→subjective stories, experiences and memories of (former) industrial communities. Narratives of work and leisure rather than that of “work without workers” (Davies, 1996) prevail here. These projects contribute to the historical legitimacy and agency of (former) industrial communities, since they try both to articulate local and communal identities, and to re-affirm the values of industrial society. Both tendencies lack a critical assessment of the impact of modern industries on the environment and on people’s lives.

The Narration of Soviet Industry in History Textbooks

A similar question “what’s industrial” can be asked also while reading Lithuanian history textbooks, which address the Soviet past. Soviet industrialization as well as the related urbanization and modernization are discussed in a more or less detailed manner in all 5th, 10th and 12th grades textbooks.37 These topics are included also in normative documents regulating history teaching in Lithuanian general education schools: “The General Curriculum Framework for Basic Education” (2008) and “The General Curriculum Framework for SecondaryEducation” (2011). According to the curriculum, students of the 5th grade should study the following topics of the Soviet period: Soviet occupation (through the annihilation of the population and resistance against the occupants) and everyday life of the people in Soviet Lithuania. History should also be taught through references to both the past and the present of the family and native place. Students of the 10th grade analyse both the history of Lithuania and global history. The history of the Soviet period should emphasize the following topics: occupation and resistance, the impact of science and technology on the economy and the development of the society, the development of culture and everyday life. In the 12th grade the greatest attention should be paid to the history of the society by referencing politics, economics and culture to reveal the changes in public life. The studied topic “The Society during the Times of Cold War and Collapse of Communism” should cover guerrilla war and dissident resistance to the Soviet regime, collaboration with the regime and adaptation to it, the “Sovietization” of Lithuanian economy and society as well as liberation from the regime.←93 | 94→

Tab. 1: History textbooks covering the period of Soviet Lithuania and approved by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania as valid for the academic year 2018–2019. Compiled by the author.

5th Grade History Textbooks







Jakimavičius Viktoras

Gimtoji šalis Lietuva. Lietuvos istorijos skaitiniai. 5 kl.

Alma littera



Zakarauskienė Izolda

Lietuvos istorija. Skaitiniai. 5 kl.




Brazauskas Juozas

Lietuvos istorija. Skaitiniai. 5 kl.




Stašaitis Stanislovas, Šačkutė Jūratė

Tėvynės istorijos puslapiai. Lietuvos istorijos vadovėlis. 5 kl.

Margi raštai



Litvinaitė Jūratė

Palikimas. Istorijos vadovėlis. 1/2-oji kn. 5 kl. (serija „Šok“)




Laužikas Rimvydas, Mickevičius Karolis, Tamkutonytė-Mikailienė Živilė, Kapleris Ignas

Kelias. Istorijos vadovėlis. 5 kl. 2 d.




Petreikis Darius, Litvinaitė Jūratė, Meškuotis Faustas, Ramoškaitė-Stongvilienė Rūta, Bitautas Algis, Stankutė Simona

Istorija. 5 kl. (serija „Atrask“)



10th Grade History Textbooks


Kasperavičius, Algis, Jokimaitis, Rimantas

Naujausiųjų laikų istorija. 10 kl.




Brazauskas, Juozas, Makauskas, Bronius

Lietuvos praeities puslapiai. Istorijos vadovėlis. 3-ioji kn. 10 kl.




Kapleris, Ignas, Meištas, Antanas, Mickevičius, Karolis, Laužikienė, Andželika, Tamkutonytė-Mikailienė, Živilė

Laikas. Istorijos vadovėlis. 2 d. 10 kl.


2017 (2007)


Bakonis, Evaldas

Tėvynėje ir pasaulyje. Istorijos vadovėlis. 10 kl.




Kraujelis, Ramojus, Streikus, Arūnas, Tamošaitis, Mindaugas

Istorijos vadovėlis. 2 d. 10 kl. (serija „Raktas“)

Baltos lankos

2010 ←94 | 95→

12th Grade History Textbooks


Mäesalu, Ain, Kiaupa, Zigmantas, Straube, Gvido, Pajur, Ago

Baltijos šalių istorija. 10–12 kl.




Civinskas, Remigijus, Antanaitis, Kastytis

Lietuvos istorija. 12 kl.


2001 (2000)


Makauskas, Bronius

Lietuvos istorija. 11–12 kl., 2-oji kn.


2006 (2000)


Gečas, Algirdas, Jurkynas, Juozas, Jurkynienė, Genia, Visockis, Albinas

Lietuva ir pasaulis. Istorijos vadovėlis. 12 kl.




Kaselis, Gintaras, Kraujelis, Ramojus, Lukšys, Stasys, Streikus, Arūnas, Tamošaitis, Mindaugas

Istorijos vadovėlis. 2 d. 12 kl.

Baltos lankos



Kapleris, Ignas, Laužikas, Rimvydas, Meištas, Antanas, Mickevičius, Karolis

Laikas 12. Istorijos vadovėlis. 1/2 d. 12 kl.


2016 (2011)


Anušauskas, Arvydas, Kaselis, Gintaras, Kraujelis, Ramojus, Lukšys, Stasys, Streikus, Arūnas, Tamošaitis, Mindaugas

Istorijos vadovėlis. 2 d. 12 kl.

Baltos lankos



Navickas, Virginijus, Svarauskas, Artūras

Istorijos vadovėlis 12 kl. (IV gimnazijos kl.)



The topics of industrial, urban and modern life are presented differently in textbooks written by different authors and published at different times (Tab. 1).38 A separate chapter could be dedicated to industry and everyday life, for example: “Huge Factories Arose” (Jakimavičius, 1998), “Everyday life of People during the Soviet Period” (Laužikas et al., 2008) or “The Sovietization of Lithuanian Economy and Society” (Anušauskas et al., 2012). These topics may also form an integral part of the narrative about Soviet politics (Civinskas & Antanaitis, 2001) or public life during different periods of Khrushchev’s “thaw” and Brezhnev’s “stagnation” (Kaselis et al., 2008; Kapleris et al., 2016; Navickas ←95 | 96→& Svarauskas, 2015). In the 5th grade textbooks, industry and modern life are sometimes described as part of the history of the entire Soviet period (Petreikis et al., 2014; Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000) or even of all general history of Lithuania (Litvinaitė, 2007). Despite these differences, an analysis of Lithuanian history textbooks could trace prevailing narratives about the Soviet industrialization, urbanization and modernization.

In most cases industrialization is presented as an important feature of Soviet period life. This is immediately noticeable upon looking through various visual highlights which appear in textbooks. The beginning of high industry appears among the dates of the most important events of the Soviet period. For example, in the chronological table highlighted in the 5th grade textbook, the 1960s as the period during which large factories were constructed is presented next to the dates of the Nazi and Soviet occupations, deportations, formation of collective farms and the Sajūdis movement for independence (Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000). Industry appears even in more telling examples of infographics. In the 5th grade textbook, the chapter “Life in Soviet Lithuania” opens with a chronological table with only two dates: 1950 as the year when the Lithuanian Anthem was banned and 1980, the year when the Mažeikiai Oil Refinery began operating (Laužikas et al., 2008) (Fig. 5). And in the 12th grade textbook, the chapter “The Lithuanian Society: from the Soviet Period to the Restoration of Independence” opens with the map of Lithuania where only the large industrial enterprises are marked (Mažeikiai Oil Refinery, Lithuania Power Plant in Elektrėnai, Jonava Nitrogen Fertilizer Factory and INPP) together with strategic Soviet military objects, such as airports and the nuclear weapons storage39 (Kapleris, 2016).

Fig. 5:Fragment of the history textbook by Laužikas, R. et al. (2008).

The industrial in textbooks most often denotes various industries themselves as well as factories and industrial enterprises. New industries, such as energy, metal, chemical, and electronics industries, that emerged during the Soviet period are proudly listed in the textbooks. In almost all textbooks, in both texts and photographs, the largest Soviet industrial companies that operated in Lithuania are presented.40 There are often attempts to demonstrate the rapidity ←96 | 97→and the vast scale of industrialization through linguistic means. Industrial enterprises are called “industrial colossi” (Brazauskas, 2000; Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000), “industrial giants” (Kraujelis et al., 2010; Bakonis, 2009; Kaselis et al., 2008). Rapid industrialization is described with such phrases: “Factories […] sprouted in Lithuania one after another” (Laužikas et al., 2008, p. 151), “Soviet government decided to turn our land of agriculture into the land of factories and plants” (Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000, p. 168). Sometimes the power and modernity of Lithuanian industrial enterprises is emphasized: “In 1965 [started operating] the Kaunas Artificial Fibre Factory, the most modern factory of chemical industry. This was one of the largest factories in the Soviet Union and Europe. The largest factory of this profile in the Soviet Union was the Vilnius Drill Factory” (Brazauskas & Makauskas, 2004, 150).

Energetics is often singled out among other industries as the basis of industrialization in history textbooks. Photographs of electric power plants in Kaunas, Elektrėnai and Ignalina dominate amongst images of other factories with the INPP playing a major role. The texts not only single out the date (1983) when the INPP was launched, but also emphasize its exceptional status by mentioning that this was the only nuclear power plant in the Baltic States, that its ←97 | 98→reactor was the most powerful in the world, included among Guinness World Records (Navickas & Svarauskas, 2015; Kapleris et al., 2017; Kapleris et al., 2016). The 5th grade textbook explains how a nuclear power plant operates and in what way it is different from other electric plants by pointing out the low cost of nuclear energy (Jakimavičius, 1998), although history textbooks usually do not explain how various industries operate and focus on their historical development instead. One could say that the INPP is presented as a symbol of modern industrialization although, as we shall see later, not necessarily in a positive sense.

The formation of the urban and modern society in Lithuania is widely discussed as a consequence of industrialization in history textbooks. The motif of rapid growth and radical changes also prevails here. The textbooks emphasize the fact that rapid industrialization resulted in extensive construction: multi-storey blocks of flats, schools, kindergartens were built, new residential districts and even new cities (Elektrėnai, Sniečkus) were designed, new roads were built and infrastructure improved on a mass scale. The chapters on Soviet social life in textbooks are most often illustrated with the photographs of new residential districts. The scale of urbanization that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, i.e., migration from countryside to the city, is emphasized. Sometimes this is illustrated by providing numbers: in 1960, 40 % of the Lithuanian population lived in the cities, and in 1980, already around 60 % (Navickas & Svarauskas, 2015; Kraujelis et al., 2010). The authors of most textbooks point out that during the Soviet period, Lithuania was transformed from an agricultural country into an industrial one, and Lithuanian society became urban for the first time in history. Yet next to the quite neutral and even celebratory listing of the facts about growth and change, the textbooks provide a somewhat negative image of Soviet modern life. It is possible to distinguish several dominating narratives about Soviet industrialization and modernization in history textbooks.

First, the narrative of a centralized/colonial control of industry prevails. The textbooks allocate the largest amount of space to the discussion of how Lithuanian industry functioned in Soviet economy based on centralized administrative planning. The authors criticize the flawed process of Soviet industry when imported materials were used for local production, and the produced goods were distributed around the entire Soviet Union in a centralized manner. The negative attitude is also expressed in the titles of the chapters such as “Producing for Everyone, Destroying Our Nature” (Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000) or “In the Grip of Planned Economy” (Kapleris et al., 2016). Large industrial companies and factories are called not only the giants of industry, but also the “monsters of industry” (Kapleris et al., 2017). Because of the centralized ←98 | 99→distribution of production, Soviet industry is discussed as an obvious form of colonial exploitation (Kraujelis et al., 2010; Anušauskas et al., 2012). Moreover, Lithuanian industry is linked not to local, but to colonial needs. On the one hand, industry dependent on imported materials had to guarantee the irreversible integration of Lithuania into the Soviet Union (Kaselis et al., 2008). On the other hand, local industry was used to produce for the military needs of the Soviet Union (Kapleris et al., 2017; Anušauskas et al., 2012). Several authors present Soviet industry as “alien” by pointing out that it was created without taking into account local conditions and traditions (Kapleris et al., 2016).

The stories about the “alien” Soviet industry are enhanced by the second narrative linking industrialization to the Russification of the country. Although Russian immigration to Lithuania was relatively insignificant, in comparison with Latvia and Estonia,41 Russification performs an important role in the narratives about Soviet industry. Most authors of textbooks state that industrialization itself was a means to Russify Lithuania, since immigration from all over the Soviet Union was necessary to both build and man large factories.42 The satellite city of the INPP, Visaginas, is often quoted as a typical example of “Soviet colonialism”, since around 30,000 Russian-speaking immigrants moved there to live (Kaselis et al., 2008; Anušauskas et al., 2012). Next to the prevailing narrative of industrialization as Russification, an alternative story can be found, mostly in the 12th grade textbooks. Some authors present the reform of Soviet economy that took place from 1957 to 1962 (the so-called sovnarkhoz system), which gave more power to local authorities for a short while and encouraged regional planning. The consequence of this reform for Lithuanian industry was an even distribution of factories across the entire territory (Civinskas & Antanaitis, 2001; Kaselis et al., 2008; Anušauskas et al., 2012; Navickas & Svarauskas, 2015; Mäesalu et al., 2000). This allowed for the hiring of local people in industry and “saved [us] from the influx of colonists” (Gečas et al., 2001, p. 335). Interestingly, the procurement of work for local inhabitants and the preserved certain “Lithuanianness” of industry is generally presented ←99 | 1→in textbooks not as a positive aspect of industrialization, but as a deliverance from yet another of its negative aspects.43

The third narrative, which strongly supplements the negative image of Soviet industry, presents pollution as a consequence of industry. The theme of ecology is discussed in almost all textbooks. Soviet production is condemned for polluting the environment, for not taking care of environment protection and hiding accidents from the society. Some textbook authors dedicate separate chapters to the topic of ecology, with graphic titles, e.g., “The Blackened Sky and Dead Trees” (Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000) or “The Threat of Ecological Catastrophe” (Kapleris et al., 2017). The factories are referred to as “horrors” of nature (Stašaitis & Šačkutė, 2000), facts about the impact of pollution on the number of oncological diseases are used (Kapleris et al., 2017), and witnessed accounts of accidents in industrial plants are presented. The texts are accompanied by photographs depicting views of contaminated soil or withered trees. The INPP has a symbolical place in this narrative. The textbooks present the INPP not only as an especially powerful, but also a very dangerous industrial plant. They even call it “a nuclear bomb of delayed action” (Kapleris et al., 2017). The authors mostly associate the threat of the INPP with the accident at Chernobyl by pointing out that both electric power plants used the same type of unsafe reactors (Kapleris et al., 2017; Bakonis, 2009; Kapleris et al., 2016, Gečas et al., 2001). Texts are illustrated with memories of contemporaries and images from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and photographs from the meetings of anti-nuclear activists in Lithuania and abroad (Kapleris et al., 2017, Gečas et al., 2001) (Fig. 6).←100 | 101→

Fig. 6:Fragment of the history textbook by Gečas, A., et al. (2001).

The fourth narrative presents the urban and modern life which stemmed from industrialization as the Sovietization of Lithuanian society. The authors of textbooks argue differently in order to demonstrate social processes and everyday life as a part of the Soviet regime. One way is to associate the events and processes in the past with negatives. We can find such a simplistic attitude in the 5th grade textbooks, in which Soviet everyday life is presented as “grey”44 ←101 | 102→(Petreikis et al., 2014) and “lacking freedom”45 (Litvinaitė, 2007). The textbook chapter about social life in Soviet Lithuania begins with the statement that is repeated in the summary of the chapter: “The most important features of Soviet life were falsehood and violence” (Laužikas et al., 2008, p. 150). Another way, mostly used in the 10th grade textbooks, is to construct an argument based on the principle of thesis and antithesis. Thus, all achievements of modern life are diminished and acquire a different, almost opposite, meaning. The telling examples are excerpts from different textbooks: “Healthcare was free in the Soviet period, but one had to wait for hours queuing up in the clinics …” (Kapleris et al., 2017, p. 232); “There were also minimal social guarantees: pensions, unemployment benefits, exemptions for families with many children etc. Yet people were very oppressed by universal deficit” (Bakonis, 2009, p. 138); “Living conditions in the flats were improved for most families created during the post-war years. The price of that was that a part of the society started not only to come to terms, but also to identify with the imposed system” (Brazauskas & Makauskas, 2004, p. 155). Finally, one more way is to treat the forms of modern life as indirect tools of Sovietization. Some authors of the 12th grade textbooks interpret such features of a modern industrial society as education and healthcare accessible to all, social guarantees and the provision of jobs and homes to everybody as only a means by which the Soviet regime attempted to “assume control of the Lithuanian society”46 (Anušauskas et al., 2012, p. 131). The modern way of life which encompasses leisure entertainment and consumerism is seen as encouraging a conformity with the Soviet system and therefore is represented negatively in the textbooks (Anušauskas et al., 2012; Gečas et al., 2001; Kapleris et al., 2016). Modernization is paradoxically presented not as an improvement in living conditions, but as the “coming to terms with the occupation authorities”47 (Gečas et al., 2001, p. 335).

Fig. 7:Fragment of the history textbook by Petreikis, D., et al. (2014). ←102 | 103→

Images illustrating the chapters in textbooks about Soviet life tell more varied stories. They are particularly abundant in lower grade and more recent textbooks. The photographs most often showcase domestic appliances (telephones, television sets, and radios), means of transport (Zhiguli cars, ←103 | 104→motorbikes), new residential districts and interiors of flats, the currency (roubles), youth fashion and sports festivals. These telling details of daily life are presented together with images from Soviet demonstrations, working bees and party meetings, Soviet youth organizations (pioneers) or queues in half-empty shops. A telling example of the complexity of visual storytelling is four photographs illustrating the chapter in the 5th grade textbook on life in Soviet cities (Fig. 7). They depict a telephone, Cheburashka, a character from a Soviet animation movie (Kūlverstukas in Lithuanian, known as Topple in English translations), and two interiors of shops in one of which people crowd around the goods that were largely unavailable (Petreikis et al., 2014). Yet if visual narratives sometimes present a many-sided image of the Soviet life, the texts usually emphasize its negative aspects, such as the shortage of consumer goods, the poor quality of products, a lagging behind the West, mass alcoholism and plunder of state property. In higher grade textbooks students are sometimes asked, e.g., what are positive and negative changes that happened in Lithuania during the Soviet period. Yet often it is impossible to find an answer to the first part of the question in the text.48

Thus, in history textbooks, the industrial signifies first of all the development of industry and its Soviet control. The rapid growth of new industries and the construction of industrial enterprises are partially presented in a celebratory way, but a negative evaluation of industrialization as a colonial project controlled from the centre prevails. Much like the industrial museums, to industrialize and to modernize indicate here to Sovietize the society, to subjugate Lithuania ideologically to the occupation regime. In this way, the history textbooks present the story of Soviet authorities as owners of industry sidelining the role of industrial communities. The topic of work and workers is not presented at all in the stories of history textbooks about the Soviet industrial society. Although the authors discuss the question of social class, they focus mostly on the presentation of a specific Soviet class – the nomenclature.49 Only two textbooks briefly mention the working class, which increased to around ←104 | 105→40 % of the Lithuanian population.50 Some authors of textbooks encourage students to ask their parents and grandparents about life in Soviet Lithuania and also about work in industry.51 In this way, a voice may be given to those who have lost the right to inherit their lived Soviet period. However, as Kohrs notes, the narratives of textbooks and live memory often have nothing in common (Kohrs, 2006). Talking to their family students often receive a completely different image of the Soviet life, which is more about the normal everyday life than about an active or passive resistance against the occupation, the topic that dominates the textbooks. For example, while reading textbooks, students could not understand in any way how and why nostalgia for the Soviet times appears in the stories of people from the older generation (Kohrs, 2006). The fact that the theme of industry is presented in textbooks not from the point of view of people who created it or felt its impact, but from the point of view of the authorities, only confirms this idea.


A widespread opinion is that the Soviet industrial heritage is a marginal area of heritage in Lithuania or is not regarded as heritageable at all (Drėmaitė, 2012; Storm, 2014). In fact, “the authorized heritage discourse” (Smith, 2006) in Lithuania does not treat Soviet industry as a valued legacy. For example, there is not a single industrial building from that period listed in the Register of Cultural Values. Despite that, there are relatively many diverse practices of memorializing and studying Soviet industry in contemporary Lithuania and one of the underlying goals of this chapter was to demonstrate this. Currently, one can see and experience Soviet industry, including the nuclear industry, in various museum projects and even assist with collecting for it. It also constitutes quite a large part of the narrative about the Soviet past in history textbooks.

Soviet industry is a clearly dissonant heritage in the sense that producers of this heritage reveal and try to maintain a binary relationship between “us” and ←105 | 106→“them” as well as between Lithuanians and the Soviets. History textbooks tell, at the first glance, a celebratory story about high industrialization and rapid urbanization, but in the end they present this as a negative narrative about the Russification of the country and contamination of its land. Contrary to the textbooks, industrial museums tend rather to celebrate technological advances and invite their visitors to admire the greatness of the machines without any critical environmental assessment. Both museums and textbooks, however, share a negative image of modernization as a means to Sovietize Lithuanian society rather than a complex process of societal and economic change.

The heritagization of Soviet industry in Lithuania creates also an effect of a double dissonance, since it raises the issue of social class and hides it at the same time. The narratives in permanent expositions in the museums and in textbooks clearly “depopulate” the history of Soviet industry, to use Davies term (1996). The centralized development and control of industry from Moscow rather than the work and life of industrial communities prevails in the narratives in history textbooks. In the same way, turbines and reactors dominate the museum halls and industrial sites. In both cases, the heritage of industry owners is preserved and presented, as it comes, negatively or positively, once more – paradoxically – disinheriting those who worked in the industry and whose lives it formed.

The pedagogy of such a dissonant heritage is in no way a simple task. The analysis of museum displays and textbooks as educational sources has limitations because they constitute only a part of the learning process, which usually occurs through interactions during visits to museums, guided tours, teacher’s work in classroom and other activities. On the other hand, the narratives they create can be understood as a foundation on which the experiences and subjectivities of learners are formed. As this research has shown, museums and history textbooks often emphasize different things in their narratives about Soviet industry. There are two important themes related to industry requiring exceptional attention: those are the environmental and social issues. The environmental issue is widely discussed in history textbooks, despite the fact that pollution is almost exclusively linked here with the Soviet type industry and not with modern industry in general, which would be more correct. Yet this theme is completely missing from museum displays and projects, thus presenting not only a partial, but also a distorted view of the industrial past and its impact on the current situation of climate change. Similarly, the social and cultural history of industry is mostly concealed in textbooks, while emerging museum practices attempt to present it. Perhaps, such different representations of these issues may be used productively in order to reveal a fuller image of the history of industry in education if it takes place both inside and outside of school.←106 | 107→

As the chapter reveals, the nuclear energy industry performs an important role in the narratives of Soviet industry. Not only the INPP becomes a symbol of high industrialization, but, I argue, the nuclear theme introduces the importance of sensibilities into the discourse of Soviet industry. One of these, nuclear fear, may be felt both while reading the textbooks and through “museum” experiences while visiting the defunct nuclear power plant, now in the process of becoming a site of nuclear heritage. Another feeling, nostalgia, is produced by the emerging museum practices, which seek to give a voice to the former industrial communities as an important participant of the processes of industrialization and modernization. One of them is the Museum of Visaginas which collects and shows the lived experiences and memories of people whose lives were shaped by the industry. By seeking to re-actualize certain values of the industrial society, such as sociability, the museum clearly resists the aforementioned fear of post-Soviet nostalgia. Precisely by emphasizing feelings of nostalgia and fear, these narratives of the nuclear industry may become powerful tools of the dissonant heritage pedagogy, encouraging both empathy and critical thinking.


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1Since the early 2000s the INPP and its satellite town has been an object of numerous international research projects not only in nuclear sciences but also humanities and social sciences, including history, architecture and social anthropology. The scholars are mosly interested in the INPP as an example of Soviet nuclear industry while Visaginas has drawn attention to it as a (post)socialist mono-industrial town. For references see: Freimane, 2016b; Stepanov, 2018. Among many other artistic and cultural events the INPP was presented in the Baltic Pavilion at the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2016.

2The INPP has the same reactor type as used in Chernobyl.

3Two reactors were put into operation in 1983 and 1987 and were closed in 2004 and 2009, respectively.

4According to Storm the nuclear community is the most obvious group who could claim Ignalina as their heritage. But she suggests that there is a grief rather than a conscious heritage process that takes place here (2014, pp. 94–97).

5In 1950, 28 % of the Lithuanian population lived in the cities; in 1970, they made up 50 %; and in 1989, 68 % (Meškauskas, 1994, p. 253).

6In 1970 industrial and construction employment surpassed agricultural employment. In 1980–85 industrial and construction employment peaked with around 40 % of total population, and services became the major sector of growing employment (Meškauskas, 1994, p. 260).

7A modern family consisting of two people became commonplace, an urban youth culture formed, the forms of spending leisure time changed with the spread of television and cars, with the rise of living standards, consumerism became a dominant force, etc. (Misiunas & Taagepera, 1993, pp. 218–227).

8In the open-air museum in Grūtas Park, which was established in 2001 and soon became very popular, not only the remnants of Soviet culture are exhibited, but also the “banal socialism” is turned into heritage. For example, the experiences and memories of Soviet everyday life are revived through Soviet dishes in the Grūtas café (Lankauskas, 2006). The Energy and Technology Museum opened in the defunct Vilnius Electric Plant in 2003 presents the history of Lithuanian technology allocating a very important place to Soviet industry.

9The textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania, valid for the academic year 2018–2019, are published in the database of textbooks and other school supplies supervised by the Education Supply Centre of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania: The database also includes several editions of the same textbook. If the new edition of the textbook completely repeats the contents of the old edition, only the new version of the textbook is used in this study. If the new edition contains significant changes, not necessarily in the text, but also in visual material, both editions are analyzed.

10According to The General Curriculum Framework for Basic Education (2008) and The General Curriculum Framework for Secondary Education (2011), history is taught at Lithuanian schools in three concentric circles. The material of the first circle is taught in the 5th and 6th grade, the second, in the 7th–10th grades, the third, in the 11th and 12th grade history programme. This way the 50 years Soviet period (1940–1990) is studied in the 5th, 10th and 12th grade in Lithuania, starting with general introductory and going over to more complex questions.

11For more on the semiological interpretation of museums see Ravelli (2006), on analysis of textbooks see Klerides (2010).

12Immigration to Soviet Lithuania where Lithuanians constituted about 80 % of the population was negligible.

13For example, those who owned little land in pre-war Lithuania and for whom Soviet occupation brought greater economic welfare and social stability.

14By double dissonance I mean that in the case of Soviet industrial heritage former working class is doubly disinherited: 1. The main inheritors of the Soviet past are those who suffered but not benefited from Soviet regime (workers got jobs, flats and social insurance so we can say they benefited from the system) 2. The main inheritors of Soviet industry tend to be Soviet ruling class and central government but not industrial workers which I try to show in the text afterwards.

15The opposition of Soviet colonialism could match another division characteristic to the imperialist capitalist industry of “provincially/colonially ruling classes or the exploitation of peripheral/subject populations”: the central power in Moscow or the workforce of the occupied countries.

16Although the notion of “technical heritage” was used in Soviet Lithuania the heritagization of modern industry did not take a place here. In the late 1960s and 1970s, when Western countries already faced industrial crisis, the Soviets experienced the culmination of industrialization and felt no need to preserve it (Drėmaitė, 2012).

17TICCIH has been ICOMOS’s specialist adviser on industrial heritage since 2000 and assesses industrial sites for the World Heritage List.

18Through an ordinary bowl of soup Mrs Ritter from Kirchhellen tells a story that she could only half-fill the soup bowls as otherwise the soup would spill out over the side. This is only one of the effects on daily family life of the subsidence caused by mining in the building zone. For years one side of the house has been sinking by a little more than millimetre a year. This information is presented in accompanying label in the Ruhr Museum.

19“If it is the interpretation that is traded, not its various physical resources, then at one level a heritage product is a particular service, such as a visit to a museum, theme park or historic city, but at a deeper level it is an intangible experience – whether it is nostalgia, pleasure, pride or something else – that is the product.” (Tunbridge & Ashworth, 1996, p. 27).

20“[…] memorial discourses and practices are constituted through a multiplicity of competing genres. Nostalgia is just one of them. Genres and subgenres of memory may be helpful heuristic devices, but they can (and do) quickly distract us from the complexity and complications of ‘really existing’ memory in social life. They tidy up or model memory into bounded units of analysis. It is not, however, the tidiness but messiness of memory that we need to describe and interrogate” (Lankauskas, 2014, p. 41).

21“[…] Negative labelling of nostalgic people circulates in stories about village and small-town residents drowning in alcoholism, women giving birth to children solely in order to get government benefits, and people either avoiding work or relying on a questionable work ethic and dishonesty” (Klumbytė, 2009, p. 100). The author notes that nostalgia in the post-Soviet public memory is associated with a disease, a virus and similar negative phenomena.

22Kideckel defines the situation of the working class in post-communist Eastern and Central Europe in the following way: “The meaning of the workers’ lives and concerns are dismissed and the very category ‘worker’ or ‘industrial worker’ is made almost invisible in public discourse” (2002, as cited in Šliavaitė, 2010a, p. 68).

23The museum was opened in 2003, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first public power station in Vilnius. In the beginning, the museum used only 13 % of the floor space of the former power station. At the end of 2008, the whole building was reconstructed preserving the authentic equipment of the power plant and installing the permanent exhibitions in the 5000m2 area. In spring 2019, a part of the museum was closed for renovation, which is planned to be finished in 2020. The exhibitions discussed in this text can be seen on a virtual tour:

24This was the first public electric plant in Vilnius, which operated from 1903 to 1998.

25On the museum’s website, the main purpose is defined in the following way: “to collect, preserve, research, exhibit and promote the history of Lithuanian energetics and technology and events related to it, to design a display and organise other exhibitions and events”. The mission of the museum found in the 2014–2018 strategic plan says that this is a museum “cherishing the object of industrial heritage – the building and equipment of the old electric plant, exploiting the unique cultural educational space dynamically and harmoniously, environment (not only nature) friendly, creating a unique educational, cultural and scientific added value”.

26This is the only mention of work in the annotation of around 150 words length.

27In spring 2018 episodes of the historical drama TV miniseries Chernobyl for HBO were filmed at the INPP. INPP was chosen for filming due to its visual similarity to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and also because both plants used the same RBMK type reactors.

28This research is based on the interviews with two employers of the INPP Visitor Centre (26 September 2018), participation in the guided tour around the display of the Visitor Centre and an interview with the guide (27 September 2018) and participation in the guided tour inside the plant (23 September 2019).

29Visitors to the INPP might be roughly divided into two unequal groups: nuclear energy professionals, i.e., those who have specialist knowledge in this area, and other visitors, i.e., the so-called lay public. In this study I focus on the second group of visitors and the narrative about nuclear industry offered to them.

30There are three possible options for decommissioning: immediate dismantling, deferred dismantling, and safe conservation and entombment. Ignalina NPP uses immediate dismantling when the equipment is dismantled practically immediately after the closure of reactor’s operation.

31According to the data of the 1 January 2019, 1,901 employees were involved in the dismantling of the power plant. Around 5,000 people were employed when the power plant was operating.

32The aforementioned possibility to talk to an employee of the power plant means to speak Russian.

33Emphasis on security is a common practice in visitor centres of nuclear power plants in order to counter anti-nuclear arguments and sentiments.

34The historian of architecture, Marija Drėmaitė, who participated in the research project, was responsible for the Lithuanian part of the exhibition, in collaboration with the Energy and Technology Museum and Vytautas Suslavičius, an engineer of the Elektrėnai power plant.

35Despite the similarity among industrial societies, Drėmaitė emphasizes also the particularities of Soviet industrialization, which resulted from, for instance, Soviet planned economy and the limitations of consumer good and trade (2009).

36This research is based on the interview with the employer of the museum, 6 March 2019.

37Among the 20 analysed textbooks, the only 11th–12th grade textbook written by Makauskas says almost nothing about Soviet industry and its impact on people’s lives. It narrows this down to three sentences claiming that heavy industry started to be developed in Lithuania from 1950 and industrialization was a means to Russify Lithuania (2006).

38Today textbooks published earlier than the aforementioned normative documents are also approved.

39The map has to illustrate a clearly exaggerated statement by the textbook’s authors that “Occupation government turned the LSSR into a giant military base” (Kapleris et al., 2016, p. 215).

40Such as the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant, Elektrėnai Power Plant, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, Mažeikiai Oil Refinery, Jonava Nitrogen Fertilizer Factory, Kėdainiai Chemical Plant, Akmenė Cement Plant, Kinescope Plant in Panevėžys and Alytus Cotton Textile Factory.

41During the entire Soviet period Lithuanians constituted around 80 % of the Lithuanian population.

42“In order to develop industry many working hands were needed. This was a pretext to send workers from other republics of the USSR. In particular, many arrivals came to build such giants of industry as the Mažeikiai Oil Refinery and Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.” (Bakonis, 2009, p. 137). Similar stories are presented in other textbooks; see Laužikas at al., 2008; Brazauskas & Makauskas, 2004; Kaselis et al, 2008; Anušauskas et al., 2012; Makauskas, 2006; Mäesalu et al., 2000.

43A sole exception is the textbook by Navickas and Svarauskas which argues that the territorial distribution of industry helped to solve the occupational problem in the province (2015, p. 157).

44“The Greyness of Soviet Everyday Life” is the title of one of three topics in the textbook’s chapter “Life in the Soviet Countryside and in the City” (Petreikis et al., 2014). Greyness refers here to the deficit of goods and uniformity of fashion.

45A short paragraph about Soviet everyday life states: “Life became easier. But there was no freedom of action. After work people were forced to attend mandatory meetings and various events” (Litvinaitė, 2007, p. 19).

46“Soviet authorities created good opportunities for social mobility for those layers of society who did not have necessary conditions to seek higher education or a career before. The Soviet system identified education with ideological education, therefore the number of pupils of general and professional secondary schools, of students of higher education increased rapidly” (Anušauskas et al., 2012, p. 130).

47“Already during the times of Khrushchev, most inhabitants came to terms with the occupation authorities, their national feelings were overshadowed by the accumulation of material values” (Gečas et al., 2001, p. 335). It is necessary to point out that several textbooks for the 12th grade (Civinskas & Antanaitis, 2001; Navickas & Svarauskas, 2015) present the urban and modern life in more neutral terms.

48As if by foreseeing this problem, the question is sometimes formulated differently: “Assess the impact of the Soviet period on Lithuanian society. Which negative aspects inherited from that period are reflected also in our time?” (Kapleris et al., 2016, p. 215).

49Nomenclature and its privileges are discussed in chapters with such telling titles as “Some Are More Equal than Others” (Kapleris et al., 2017) or “Life Was Good Not for Everyone” (Brazauskas & Makauskas, 2004).

50One textbook presents the particularities of the Soviet working class by claiming that “in reality workers as a group of the society were only a workforce in state factories” (Civinskas & Antanaitis, 2001, p. 201). The second textbook presents workers through the changes in the social composition of the society: “In 1960, there were around 490,000 workers in Lithuania, and in 1980, already over a million” (Navickas & Svarauskas, 2015, p. 157).

51Mostly the authors of the 5th grade textbooks give such tasks to the students. See Litvinaitė (2007), Laužikas et al. (2008).