At the end of WWII, Germany had provided quarters for the many displaced people from Lithuania. The town of Augsburg, in Swabia, was home for people from the Baltic countries at a camp, organized by the US war administration. Camp residents included about 2000 Lithuanians. Augsburg became one of the most important cultural centers for Lithuanian refugees.
The Augsburg Lithuanians built an oak cross, based on a design by Jonas Mulokas, an architect who would later settle in the US. The cross includes an inscription in Lithuanian, German, English and French, that prays for God‘s blessing, expresses respect for the dead and grateful thanks to refugees‘ benefactors, and explains that this Lithuanian cross is being constructed so that it can bear witness to the many Lithuanians who, due to the winds and fury of war, found themselves here, and are yearning for their country, wishing Lithuania would be restored to its independent state. Date: A.D. 1945.
The cross is decorated by 4 statuettes: patron of Lithuania – St. Casimir, Samogitia‘s 2 bishops – Merkelis Giedraitis and Motiejus Valancius, and God‘s Sorrowful Mother.
On one side of the cross is an engraved rendition of the picture of Mary, Mother of God, displayed in Ausros Vartai parish, Vilnius, with a short postscript in Latin.
The beauty and artistry of this famous cross is currently displaying the ravages of humidity. Many of the the wood pieces are cracked. It has been defaced with graffitti. The little fence surrounding the cross has been broken. It is important to save this memorable example of religious artistry located in Bavaria, thereby immortalizing this tragic page in the history of Lithuanians.
At the beginning of the year, Lithuania‘s ambassador to Germany, Deividas Matulionis and the mayor of Augsburg agreed to have the cross restored, responsibility to be jointly shared by the city of Augsburg and the Lithuanian embassy of Germany. The Honorary Counsel in Bavaria, Benjamin Wittstock, is pursuing potential donors in Germany. He will be approaching the original benefactors of the cross, the Fugger family of Augsburg. The Lithuanian embassy is appealing to Lithuanians in the US to help with their donations.
The Lithuanian American Community supports this project, and invites all to help with their donations. Checks should be made payable to: Lithuanian American Community Inc., with Augsburg cross in the memo. These donations will be forwarded to the Lithuanian embassy in Germany.
Donations should be mailed to:
4 Midland Gardens, Apt 4J
Bronxville, NY 10708
Lithuanian American Community
National Executive Committee