Tomas Venclova – My letter to the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party (47/88)

The offer was made to Brodsky to go to Israel
even though he didn’t want to go there at all. And he left, but of course,
not for Israel, but for America. Well, and I wasn’t a Jew… I had no basis on which to go,
none of my relatives were Jewish. But I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the
Lithuanian Communist Party. I called it an open letter. I can even quote from the letter, it was in ’75. I addressed them as follows:
‘Honoured Members – I didn’t use the word ‘comrades’ or the term
‘greatly honoured’, but just ‘honoured’– this letter should not come as a great surprise to you. I am a writer, translator and a literary scholar. I have a fair body of work in all of these fields. I have probably served my country and my nation well, and I have earned the bread that
I have eaten throughout my life. All the same, I have done much less than
I would have been able to do, but through no fault of my own. My father, Antanas Venclova, was a communist
and a communist writer. I respected him, and still respect him as a human being. Amongst other things, I learned to be faithful
to my principles from him, not just from him… but from him as well [sic]. However, in my early youth, as I observed and lived life, I created a system of views different from my father’s, something which I did not keep secret from my father
nor from anyone else in Lithuania. I believe that it is also not a secret from you. Communist ideology is foreign to me and, in my opinion,
for the most part, wrong. Its absolute domination has brought our country
a great deal of misfortune. Repressions have been applied against people
who think differently, censorship and similar things have been
harmful not just to culture, but also to the system which it has attempted to
safeguard using those methods. I cannot change anything. I could not do so even if
had the power that you have. But, all the same, I can, and probably even have to,
express my opinion here. That already, however you look at it, is something. Because of my views I have lost the opportunity
to do cultural work, and there is no other kind of work that I
could or would want to do. My very existence in this country is becoming
pointless and problematic. For that reason I ask you, in accordance with the
Declaration of Human Rights, and the existing… and the laws in force, the existing rules, I ask you to allow me to go abroad
to live there permanently. I could go to Israel if such a decision were to be made. If this decision were to be final,
I would not intend to change it. I also ask you not to discriminate
against members of my family who hold different views to mine and
who are staying in Lithuania – I had my mother in mind here. My mother, in fact, supported me in these matters
but did not want to go to the West herself. She decided to stay in Lithuania.

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