Brief history of Druskininkai
Druskininkai is the southernmost town in Lithuania; it is also considered to be the oldest Lithuanian health resort celebrated for its salty springs and a mild warm microclimate. This is the present-day Lithuanian name of the region, Druskininkai, that derived from those saltwater intrusions. Although the written sources explicitly mention Druskininkai town only in 1636, however, its history can be traced back to at least the Stone Age period. In the 19th century a lot of representatives of the intellectual society, including the founders of the crystal springs resort and other enthusiastic individuals, headed to Druskininkai town that had been imagined asan authentic„archaeological site„. Nowadays we are all well aware of the famous archaeological findings assemblages contemplated by the explorer of the Lithuanian history T. Narbutas, as well as by the further mentioned doctors of Druskininkai: K. Volfgang, A. Reynier; K. Von Schmidt, the first caretaker of mineral springs and Z. Gloger, the famous historian and ethnographer and many others.
Some of the 19th century sources also explores a historical and archaeological thought related to Druskininkai town and the period of the Crusades. As per this opinion, in the period of the armed conflicts between Lithuanians and Crusaders a tower intended for defence was built on the right shore of the river Ratnyčėlė, by the side of the river Nemunas.
In the 18th century Druskininkai appeared to be only an ordinary Lithuanian countryside site including 5 peasant homesteads. It belonged to the Pervalkas ward that consisted only of 2 small towns: Pervalkas and Ratnyčia, 16 countryside sites (together with Druskininkai) being under the rule of 1 folwark (palivarkas in Lithuanian), 2 farmsteads (small patches of land at field’s end), 3 rivers (including water resources of Druskininkai) and 3 narrow inlets. In the 18th century the Pervalkas ward together with a countryside site of Druskininkai was under the rule of and belonged to the Oginskiai family. The people who dwelled in the Druskininkai countryside region were adult parents and their adolescent children. Usually brothers, cousins, nephews, their children and other blood relatives, as well as relatives-in-law and their helpers were joining the homestead. The house and homestead helpers, mergos of the female sex and bernai of the male sex, used to provide a great help in the land and farm works. The most popular given name for boys among the population of Druskininkai was Kazimieras. Fairly widespread family names of the peasants were nicknames based and also of the typical Lithuanian origin. Throughout the 18th century an incessent continuance of the Sūručiai and Dailidės family and kin was observed. There appears to be an interesting fact related to the Sūručiai family‘s continuance. At the end of the 18th century a domination of the above mentioned family was officially confirmed, since at this period Druskininkai countryside site consisted of 6 families in total and 3 of them belonged to the Sūručiai kin. Those families were supposed to pay taxes on their income, perform 3-day long corvée labor, imposed on people of lower social standing, handle a mushroom cord to the governor, and the governor was entitled to send them with various tasks to Vilnius city 3 times a year. Not only were peasants engaged in agriculture and husbandry, they also practiced beekeeping. In 1769 Laurynas Sūrutis had 15 hollow logs, and his neighbour Stanislovas Dailidė owned only 2 logs. However, even those were sufficient to supply the rest of neighbours with honey. Altogether the Druskininkai populants were fit enough to lead the peasants life. The peasants of Druskininkai had been designated as gentlemen farmers. Although this still does not suggest their belonging to one of these upper social classes. The above mentioned gentlemenwere meant to be representatives of the upper class of working peasants. They did not appertain to the private country-seat, but to the country-seat and estate of the ruler which caused less exploitation. At the end of the 18th century a small public inn (karčema in Lithuanian) was founded in Druskininkai. It became an establishment where the populants could usually seek food and drink, and enjoy the sad and happy times. Earlier people had to move long distances until Pervalka and Ratnyčia towns in order to reach the nearest inn. As for the purpose of prayers and a private confession to a priest, people once again had to travel to the outsider church that was built in the Ratnyčia town in 1650. This communication environment originated in the neighbouring towns and even took place on the territory of Vilnius city. Such way of life mightily affected populants‘ self-awareness and a perception of the world.
Many illustrious stories about the folk doctors come to us from the 18th century. Until present days people talk of the marvellous doctors of the Sūručiai kin and providential Druskininkai springs that helped to treat different diseases. Local countrymen had noticed many times that wounded legs were getting better after wading in the miraculous springs on the side of the Nemunas river, and livestock animals were getting healthier and fatter too after drinking from the springs.
In 1772 the saltwater springs attracted huge interest of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. It happened immediately after Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania lost the sault-mine vaults on the territory of Poland. Salt is an essential mineral needed for daily basis: it is habitually used for preservation of food and related products that are more likely to perish quickier; it is also used as an excellent spice and flavor. As per economic forecasts, in Lithuania salt was always an influential import product as the state did not have native salt sources. Lithuanians used to purchase salt from Ryga, Russia and Poland‘s merchants starting from Middle Age. In a search of a substitute to the lost treasures, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and Titular King of Poland Stanisław August Poniatowski (Stanislovas Augustas Poniatovskis in Lithuanian) ordered to thoroughly examine all the saltwater springs located on the territory of the state. Unfortunately during the research the unfortunate conclusion was made. It stated that none of those springs could be serviceable for production of the table salt. However, in consistency they were similar to other European mineral waters used for treatment of various diseases. In 1789 Druskininkai attracted huge interest of the Members of Parliament sitting in the Hrodna (Grodno) city. After receiving encouragement in talks, the ruler of the state Stanisław August Poniatowski visited the region in question. Shortly by the decree of June 20, 1794 Druskininkai was announced to be an officially recognized health resort.
After the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Druskininkai devolved to Czarist Russian Empire.
While Europe was being torn apart by wars and stir panic, Druskininkai received only a little attention from the government. This is despite the fact that the mineral and mud baths had already been operating since the beginning of the 19th century, off the record, of course. At the suggested time Druskininkai city received many patients complaining from different ailments. The sick had often experienced inconveniences and had to stay at the small peasant houses during treatment period. In order to start up a treatment the patients themselves had to bring over different types of tools, starting from the simpliest bathtubs intended for successful accomplishment of the curative procedures. Moreover, the easiest way to get to mineral springs was blocked by lots of mud in the surrounding wetlands. However, it was only after the results of the surveys of chemical composition of mineral water of Druskininkai sources by a professor of Vilnius University I. Fonberg had been published in 1835 that Druskininkai became a real resort. And, lastly, Grigorij Dopelmayer’s name has been many times mentioned in connection with the mineral water resort‘s foundation for further development. He was directly engaged in providing necessary professional equipment and organizing other facilities. In 1837 the above mentioned G. Dopelmayer initiated a project of Druskininkai resort. On December 31, 1837 it was presented for the consideration of the Emperor of Russia Nikolas I who on January 4, 1838 granted his permission to develop Druskininkai as a resort town. Furthermore, under the deal the Credit Bank was slated to allocate to the resort a loan amount of 25 000 silver roubles. The funds were intended for building the constructions and for further development of environmental requirements in the region. During the first few years soil swampy and muddy area of the mineral valley had been well drained. The springs were canalized and averted to the repositories of wood log cribs; extra bath-rooms, mineral water containers, temporary shelters for unweds and families, and a sentry-box were built at the resort. A ferryboat transporting passengers across the Nemunas river was offered to visitors. Starting from 1839 twice a week a stagecouch (a type of covered wagon) strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand, was departing from Druskininkai and travelling to Hrodna (Grodno) city. It carried passengers, correspondence and parcels. Passengers had to endure an 8-hour trip inasmuch as the way at this direction was very sandy. After laying the railway track Saint Petersburg-Warsaw in 1862, the way from Hrodna (Grodno) to Druskininkai was being cut down twice. At the end of the 19th century a steamboat used to transport passengers across Nemunas. In 1841 there was established the Medical Faculty association. Its main aim was to improve, standardize and expand measures of the treatment environment. In 1844 through the efforts of the doctor K. Volfgang the first general-interest magazine „Mermaid of the Druskininkai wellness springs„ („Druskininkų šaltinių undinė“ in Lithuanian) was being published in Hrodna (Grodno). The doctor J. Pileckis initiated the establishment of the mercy home, hospital for the poor Jewish people and children‘s shelter. In 1853 there was opened the Druskininkai branch of the Hrodna (Grodno) post bureau. In the next years the following places started to operate: a bakery, slaughterhouse, ice cream parlour, different shops, confectionary, taverns and riding hall.
The Druskininkai branch of the Hrodna (Grodno) district hospital opened in 1860.
The so-called Performance Hall intended to become a public facility for meetings, concerts and different types of performances. During concert season Druskininkai‘s hall was continuosly receiving the guests from the Orchestra of the Kaunas Music Theatre, as well as the Vilnius Drama Theatre led by Novakovskis. It was not only the territory of Czarist Russian Empire that remembered notability of the region of Druskininkai, so did the outside regions. Druskininkai had been celebrated as a valley of the wellness springs and entertainment attractions. It was a famous venue for music and arts performances, dancing quests, tennis and croquet games. It was a treatment and resting venue. The representatives of the intellectual society, such as litterateurs J. I. Kraševskis, E. Ožeškova, J. Čečiota, V. Syrokomlė, composer S. Moniuška, painter N. Orda, mineralogist T. Zanas, were often being treated in these places. Druskininkai of those days presented to the world 2 talented individuals, embodying exceptional intellectual ability and creativity – the famous painter and gifted composer M. K. Čiurlionis and the brilliant sculptor J. Lipchitz. Not only was Druskininkai a venue of wellness and entertainment attractions, the city also suffered from few tremors of the 19th century. Often and sudden floods devastated the region, had harmful effects on the mineral springs and constructions of the resort. A few sanatoriums and other resort‘s building burnt during times of disaster. Certain political events were another significant factors affecting the city’s life. The revolt of 1863-1864 pervading Druskininkai and the surrounding governorates is definitely worth mentioning. It was caused by some events and public situations immediately prior to the rebellion. Only Orthodox adherents were entitled to purchasing real estate, the ferryboat transporting passengers across Nemunas temporarily stopped operating. People were not allowed to speak Lithuanian and Polish in public places; it was forbidden to wear occasional mourning clothes of the black color. The visitors stream noticeably reduced. This was the factor that affected budget as well.
In 1865, after the bargain-sale of the mineral waters of Druskininkai was successfully accomplished, the resort‘s ownership passed to the colonel K. Schtrandman (K. Štrandmanas). In 1876 the resort’s ownership once again passed to the state counsellor Vladimir Juliani (Vladimiras Džuljanis), in 1882 the Druskininkai Mineral Water Association was established in the city. These events served as the basis for the new beginning of the resort‘s life. Many new changes were implemented in the innovative Druskininkai city. There were established the public library, photographic parlour and stomatology clinics. In 1884 the so-called enthusiasts initiated the foundation of the Voluntary Firefighters Society of Druskininkai. In 1896 the Treatment department of the municipality administration of the Hrodna (Grodno) governorate issued its permission for sale of pine bath extract. It was previously founded by the honoured provisor (pharmacist) S. Milicer (S. Miliceris). The agent was officially sanctioned at the Exhibition of treatment and hygiene that took place in Saint Petersburg in 1898. In 1907 the essential pine oil, aromatic pine balsam and acorus oil lab opened its door in Druskininkai. Those curative products were continuosly used for different treatment procedures. Starting from 1870, the locals were engaged in the kumiss production that was highly celebrated in 1897 during the Paris exhibition. The production formula received a golden medal and a very high evaluation.
In 1875 Druskininkai’s scientists began a series of the meteorological observations. Therapeutic physical training department that served as the treatment branch opened its door to the visitors in 1878. In summer of 1899 the locals and visitors started enjoying cascading bath tubs located at the mouth of the Ratnyčia river. The walking tracks were laid down nearby to the tubs. The present day 150-bed Druskininkai treatment centre started operating in 1894.
The following institutions opened their doors to visitors in 1910: hotels „Europa„, „Kurorto„, residential care homes „Zacyšje„, „Bristol„, as well as restaurants-residential homes, milk farm, mill, firefighters society, municipality building, post and telegraph offices, and many others.
Science and technological progress as well improved people‘s lives and the resort’s development. In 1909 Druskininkai administration, the post and telegraph department of Hrodna (Grodno) governorate and Warsaw electric tool corporation signed a contract related to the establishment of the telephone network and its realization project „regarding the development of the Hrodna (Grodno) telephone network and interconnection of the telephone lines in the Hrodna (Grodno) and Druskininkai cities for the convenience of the arriving visitors, as well as development of the central telephone station in Druskininkai„. After a while the authorized institution set up a regular phone line connecting Druskininkai and Ratnyčia. Three years later, the post and telegraph department of Hrodna (Grodno) governorate and Bialystok electric network corporation signed a concessionary agreement regarding the implementation of electric light and power in Druskininkai.
On the eve of the Second World War Druskininkai was a truly blossoming city. As never before, it had been receiving lots of visitors and patients. By 1913 the number of patients being treated at the Druskininkai resort had reached 18 600 (9% of all the patients being treated at the Russian resort by that time). According to the information collected by the German spies, the resort consisted of the population of 2825 people; its streets were unpaved, the city contained much gardens and free land, 3 wooden churches, post and telegraph, pharmacy. The Ratnyčėlė bridge was 8 metres in width and 20 metres in length. On the initiation of the First World War, Druskininkai became the central point of the politico-military activities.
On February 21, 1915 the Russian army receding from the Germans exploded the Nemunas bridge. Later the leaders understood that the previous movement was made in a clear hurry, and therefore, on March 5, 1915 they attempted to rebuild the destroyed bridge. The building project was passed to the engineer Jakovlenko. The government allocated the amount of 10000 roubles for the accomplishment of the scheme. The bridge was finally rebuilt on April 24, 1915.
While approaching the city, the German army shelled and sniped. „Approximately half the city had been destroyed, surrounding villages also suffered from the violent attack„, „forests were in flames, many mineral water sources were destroyed„. Druskininkai remained under the rule of Germans until the war end. During the period the city and resort‘s architectural development stopped as many significant constructions together with the Performance Hall (Kurhauzas in Lithuanian) and famous villas were burnt or looted.
Throughout the occupation years the resort’s sources and constructions were not being used to their full capacity. In those days it was exclusively intended for treatment and entertainment of the military people. The trade that was the main activity of the local Jewish people also pined away. The burnt villas had not been completely rebuilt, but done up. Since there were no existing funds, therefore no one cared about the reconstruction of the treatment centres. According to the information collected by 1919, in that year Druskininkai population reached only 1 284 permanent residents. It was a smaller half of the whole Druskininkai’s population from the year 1909.
After the announcement of Lithuania’s independence and at the beginning of fights between the Polish and Bolsheviks (Russian Social Democratic Party‘s adherents), Lithuanian divisions succeeded to get Druskininkai back on July 18, 1920. It was for a short time though as the forces were again dislodged by the Polish army. It happened immediately after losing a fight nearby to the Kapčiamiestis city. Starting from October, Druskininkai belonged to the Hrodna (Grodno) district of the occupied Vilnius region. The demarcation line between Lithuania and Poland passed exactly at the location of Druskininkai, at the midpoint of Nemunas. It was dividing the so-called Love island (Meilės sala in Lithuanian) in half. Hence Druskininkai stepped into the completely new stage. It became the celebrated Polish resort. Druskininkai’s ownership passed to the stock corporation. The post-war boomtown was left totally destroyed and floundering. Resort season was finally officially opened in spring of 1923 after long preparation works. In those days the resort consisted only of 700 rooms being prepared for the rent.
The first Wellness and Rest Camp for Children opened its door in 1924. Its founder was well-known V. Jasinskis, the professor of children‘s clinics and services at Vilnius city. In 1926 few doctors re-established the Medical Association and renewed its work. In spring the locals started enjoying the new streets and their paved roads. In 1928 Druskininkai received city rights, there was opened a magistrate. In the same year Druskininkai‘s City Council bestowed on marshal J. Piłsudski a title of the personal honoured Citizen. It was done in remembrance of Rzeczpospolita’s independencedecade. Resort Commission commenced its activity in 1929, and its main and common goal was to provide, set up and ensure comfortable conditions for the arriving visitors and holidaymakers. The Commission was being responsible for the aesthetic view of the city and its sanitary conditions. Druskininkai Friends Society acted as its executive body. The Society had managed the following places: a sandy beach along the Nemunas river, resort‘s gaming establishment (casino located at the „Katry„ villa), reading-room (at the same location), boat station nearby to the Druskonis, Ilgis and Latas lakes, orchestra in the park and on the beach; it also used to organize excursions, hikes and trips to the suburbs of Druskininkai.
Druskininkai Friends Society and the city‘s magistrate institution put forth common efforts in popularizing the region. In 1929 they revived publications of the magazine „Mermaid of the Druskininkai wellness springs„. A total of 23issues were published until the magazineclosed its doors. Shortly the Polish government got interested in the resort. It took full responsibility for the region inasmuch as the previous owner (the above mentioned stock corporation) was not able to meet commitments and take good care of the boomtown. In the same year a conference, titled „Future issues of Druskininkai„, was summoned by J. Piłsudski. Throughout the event he acted as the chairman. Conference’s outline was as follows: in 1930 the resort’s ownership passed to the government itself. A 1.5-kilometre watersupply was laid down in Druskininkai in 1930. A new architectural project had been initiated. Its aim was to build a neogotic stone church in Druskininkai. The construction was finally accomplished in 1931 (construction began in 1912).
In 1932 the place of the Treatment centres became occupied by the workshop studios intended for the production of pine needle extract and tablets „Druskol„ with natural pine oil. Another important event was the opening of the Pariečė — Druskininkai railroad. It happened on September 4, 1934. The railroad stations between Pariečė and Druskininkai were named after the daughters of J. Piłsudski – Undinė and Jagodka. Resort accessibility also improved significantly. In 1937 Druskininkai resort celebrated its 100-year anniversary. Its foremost mineral water springs were called by the names Birutė, Undinė, Aušra, Maršalas, and the Vytautas spring has been Always know as the deepest one (320 m). In the same year the region‘s publishing house published the first issues of the Polish magazine „Druskininkai voice„.
Throughout the period of 1929-1939 the measures were taken for improving surrounding environment. Enthusiasts kept announcing contests of the most shapely parterres, good care was taken of the park in the place of the Treatment centres; in those days people were calling this nature miracle „the park of 1000 roses„. All summer long orchestra coming from Grodno or Bialystok used to entertain holidaymakers. It usually played twice per day – in the morning and evening. The organisers introduced a paid entrance. Drunk, poorly dressed people and dogs were not allowed. The orchestra was playing different musical variations. At the paid request of the audience the performers also played variation out of program. Trade was another popular activity that pervaded the city‘s streets and Nemunas coast. Photographers, Polish souvenirs merchants, bearded woman of the circus sideshows, spider-man clambering up the walls of the villa „Linksma„ – all of them tried to gladden holidaymakers. Many various contests were held at closing of the season: people were competing for the title of „Most beautiful eyes„ , „Best sun tan„ and „Beauty Queen„. Druskininkai were overwhelmed by visits of the celebrities: the theatrical producer J. Osterva, cinema and theatre start Ordonka and many others.
The movement of the young doctor Eugenija Levicka (1896 – 1931) was particularly significant for the Polish heyday of the Druskininkai city and for its rebirth as well. E. Levicka started her experience in summer of 1924 as the seasonal Druskininkai‘s resort physician. The period of 1924-1931 was highly-productive for her. Following the system of the Danish physiology professor Linnhardt, she established the innovative Sun, Air and Exercising Procedure treatment facility. She practiced curative gymnastics and was working on a composition of the desired methodology of the curative physical exercises. She was exercising herself and encouraged her patients to do the same. Through her efforts the surrounding environment got significantly improved and enriched by the pool, volleyball, handball and basketball playing-fields, tennis courts, racecourses and gymnastics places. The above mentioned treatment with help of movement, sun and air could be alternatively called a healthy way of life without often visits to drug stores. Such methods could be easily considered as revolutionary, immoral and blameful in those days. Despite the fact, people were following this innovative and unusual way of life. „Post-war fashion change induced muscles contraction, bones formation and every smallest part of the woman’s body, […] the cut and construction of clothes encouraged women to become fashion statements and forget about the precious belly fats that had been cherished throughout the 19th century. Prior to these days a woman a la mode was voluptuous, she was supposed to enjoy the food then swallowing the rest. In the present days a bustling way of life, exercising, massages and many other things encourage women to refuse the cherished body fats…„ Active way of life and tanning were the activities that strengthened a human wish to entrench oneself against the world. „In 1923 few issues of the popular fashion magazine „Vogue„ propagated the use of sunlamps„. It was the first time in history the suntanned women had been considered beautiful. According to one of the popular opinions, suntanning became popular only in 1922 through the effort of the legendary Chanel. It is said that once, after a long-term sea journey with the duke of Westminster who was a good friend of hers, suntanned Channel appeared in Cannes. Immediately after that tanning became fashionable. As for the more truthful and logic reasons, there is also another speculation regarding the tanned skin, and it states that popularity of the tanned skin increased with the growth of sport culture. The described details of fashion history once again confirm the fact of Druskininkai being an extremely modern resort that advanced and stepped together with all world novelties and scenes. E. Levicka‘s Sun, Air and Exercising Procedure treatment facility contained men and women sections. Children section opened its door a bit later. On the photos of 1924-1937 taken at the park we could observe women exercising at the facility and wearing very little clothes, as well as exercising men and children wearing the club bands. Obviously training took place in the separate sections that were protected from outsiders. Every division was attended by a physician and instructors of therapeutic physical training. They supervised training groups and individual classes.
Following a tragical death of E. Levicka, the park was named after her. According to information collected in 1937, the region used to receive up to 2000 visitors during the resort season months.
Interwar Druskininkai carved out of rowing sport, skiing, hiking activity and famous beaches. The beach on Love island popularized Druskininkai even more. The built pedestrian drawbridge linked the beach together with Druskininkai’s coast. The entrance fee was applied to all visitors. Passengers could be delivered to the beach by the offered ferryboat.
In 1937 Druskininkai resort celebrated its 100-year anniversary really loudly. Immediately after the event the city started losing its prosperity. It seemed to be the first signs of the Second World War slowly approaching the region.
In 1939 the Eastern part of Poland and its subordinated region of Vilnius had been occupied by the Russian army. It happened after unsuccessful attempts to fight nacistic Germany. The Soviet army stepped in Druskininkai in September of 1940. The city was annexed into Pariečė district of Grodno district (Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic). However, it was returned back to Lithuania together with the Vilnius region on September 3, 1940 following the Soviet occupation. Prior to it, Druskininkai was extorted. Luxury furniture, crockery, radios, best samples of bedclothes, beds, tables and medical inventory were exported to Russia and Byelorussia.
The Treatment centers of Druskininkai finally became accessible for the masses. According to the information collected on August 23, 1940, in those days there were a couple of treatment centers in Druskininkai: reabilitation facility No. 1, reabilitation facility No. 2, resort‘s administration clinics „Druskininkai„, reabilitation facility „Narkomzdrav„.
Throughout the next years the first republican pioneer camp opened its door for children. New changes were appearing in the city. Druskininkai started celebrating holidays intended for all Soviet citizens: International Worker‘s Day on May 1-st, anniversary of the Great Octobersocialistic revolution and many others. The resort lacked qualificated professionals, the chaos-dominated environment was only one step far from financial crisis. The war once again stopped economic development plans of the resort. The land lost its vitality and could not yet regain it due to continuous occupational regimes. Disturbing policy of political repression was creating tension and emotional conflicts in the region. Initially 2 waves of political repression swept Druskininkai. Thousands of people were arrested and exiled to the furthest possible places in the Soviet Union. In the middle of June of 1941 the authorized officers arrested and exiled another 250 well-born Jewish and Polish families. Resistant guerilla groups were formed in the city after the start of the war on June 22, 1941 and following the June rebellion that occurred on June 23. Later on that year the activity of the newly-created Lithuanian administration institution and police brought quite positive results. On June 23, 1941 Druskininkai were occupied by the armed Wehrmacht forces. At that time the German soldiers burnt 6 homesteads, they were extorting shops, restaurants, foods storages and depots. Lithuanian administration headquarter was repelled on July 12, 1941. Few days the government disarmed the police reservists. The Commandant‘s Office was formed instead on July 16. In 1941 Germany turned the Baltic states and Byelorussia (now Belarus) into a new territorial unit, Ostland, and Druskininkai were annexed into the Ostprussen region in Germany. During the period of the German occupation new changes were implemented by the companions. New currency unit, reichsmark, was introduced in the region. The resort and its treatment facilities were intended only for the soldiers of Wehrmacht. After entering the resort, Germans started considering a legal name change of the city. A couple of options had been offered initially: Memeltalbad (Nemunas diving valley) and Salznicken (salz – salt in German). The first option had finally been chosen. Reabilitation facilities also continued operating, they were reopened under new names, such as: „Kuckucknest„ („The Cuckoo‘s Nest„ – this name was chosen for the reabilitation facility „Draugystė„), „Memel Blick„ (Nemunas scene). At the place of the shop „Pavasaris„ there was built a small aerodrome. The Druskininkai ghetto was opened in autumn of 1941. Pushed out of their homes, approximately about 900 Jewish people were then forced to move into this tiny wiry space; the ghetto was liquidated on November 2, 1943, and the prisoners were spirited away to the Nazi concentration camp located nearby to the Grodno city. Around one-third of all Druskininkai‘s populants were killed or exiled. Throughout the period of the German occupation Lithuanian Committee established in the city one of the first Lithuanian schools. On July 14, 1944 Druskininkai were once again captured by the Red army. During switch of the front line Druskininkai had not anymore suffered of any further violent attacks. The above mentioned statement could be attested by plans and schemes of the Chief of the General Staff. The schemes samples are taken from the maps of the period of 1944-1945, the city charts clearly illustrate the planning and building of the location.
In the first postwar years Druskininkai kept fighting against the aggression, and its resistance movement still played an important part. Shortly Druskininkai became the centre of valsčius which was a traditional administrative subdivisionof that time. In the end of 1945 enthusiastic patriots established People’s Defense Platoons (known by the Lithuanians as stribai), NKVD‘s armed forces consisted of 34 snipers.
Resort‘s reabilitation facilities reopened their doors to visitors in 1945, during the summer season. The district of Druskininkai was established in 1950 after fulfilling a pledge of the administrative reform. District‘s existence was annulled in 1955.
In 1953 the Government attested that Druskininkai had now become the District of Republican Subordination. Hereinafter all the issues related to the resort‘s development and changes over time were consigned to the Executive Committee. Starting from 1955 the resort used to welcome visitors the whole year. In the next years the city regained its popularity on the territory of the Soviet Union, The number of visitors, patients and holidaymakerscoming to the resort increased significantly (Druskininkai received 42 000 visitors in 1961). New buildings, reabilitation and holiday facilities were designed for expanding constructions. The number of maintenance staff, operating personnel and city‘s populants also automatically increased. Druskininkai population reached a total of 5765 people in 1959, in 1970 there were 11200 people in the city, and the number reached its peak of 14200 people in 1976. In 1963 land of the city occupied approximately 592 ha, and in 1976 it increased until 2200 ha. In 1963 Druskininkai contained a total of 43 city streets and additional bystreets together with their cross streets. Not only treatment procedures could be offered at the resort, but marvellous environment, curative mineral waters and best rest conditions. „You are free to return to your room after walks in a fresh air penetrated by long-lasting clean pine scent, or after pleasant rowing sessions held on a boat deck.
Each of your evenings is full of surprises, cheers and new activities. One or another sanatorium is launching an interesting entertainment program: joyful brain-teasers, humour speeches, fun entertainment, wonderful questions answers games, concerts. You are receiving pleasant social invitations on a daily basis. You simply cannot afford to lose a marvellous chance to attend the concerts and listen to the performers arriving directly from Vilnius. The resort is often being visited by the masters of fine art and various artist collectives. No matter where an inspiring program is being introduced – on an open stage or at the club hall, it is always a great pleasure for audience„. In the period local amateur groups were well-liked in Druskininkai: song and dances ensembles, chorus and amateur theatre community. In 1953 the first Song Festival was held in beautiful surroundings inValley of Songs. The festival was one of the ways to enjoy summer pleasures. Steam-powered ferryboats are still in service. The establishment of the M. K. Čiurlionis Memorial Museum in Druskininkai was another important part in cultural life. Painter‘s works have had a profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture.
Lots of new tenement houses, blocks of flats, semi-detached houses and industrial facilities were constructed on expanded land. And therefore, Druskininkai started rapidly losing its small-scale, cosy and verdant image.
Majority of buildings were being constructed beyond the historic borders of the city, however workers also used to build some objects for public use on the territory of the old countryside site and land of 1837. The sampler objects were general store, cinema building (1967), post office (1968), reabilitation facility-sanatorium „Nemunas„ (1970). Some of the new buildings, such as rehabilitation facilities (by the architects A. And R. Šilinskai, 1980) were designed nearby to or a little bit remotely from the older constructions. Despite idiosyncracy of the styles, buildings complemented each other and enriched the resort’s architecture. While creating new designs and expanding the architectural environment, many of the traditional and distinctive samples, such as villas, residential care homes and dwelling houses, were destroyed and demolished, and some of them were reconditioned in the wrong way (modified shapes, unripped pinnacles, demolished decoration details). However, even at Soviet times people lived their lives at full capacity in superintended environment. Interwar E. Levicka‘s park was reorganized, improved and expanded in 1952. New gymnastics halls, sport playing-fields, open pools, solariums, two-wheeled vehicles base and acupressure watersheds were designed on the territory. Starting from 1964 visitors started enjoying cascading bath tubs constructed at the mouth of the Ratnyčėlė river. They combined classical and thermal procedures. Extension of the Park of Curative Physical Training was reconstructed in 1981; the extension included the wellness track named after the Sun, original distinctive benches, summerhouses, bridges, active rest grounds and open cascades. Walking and cycling routes were implemented for public purpose of active rest and relaxation. Some of the routes were „Stars orbit„ („Žvaigždžių orbita„), touristic track „Grūtas„ and tracks of the measured distance. The resort had been decorated with different sculptures, monuments and memorials for socialistic and ideological leaders, gypsum shapes and epoch-making masterpieces, such as Ratnyčėlė (by B.Vyšniauskas, 1959), memorial for M.K.Čiurlioniui (by V.Vildžiūnas, 1975), Muzikantas (by D.Zundeloivičius, 1977),Skrydis (by G.Karalius, 1978), Vyturys (by D.Matulaitė, 1979) and many others. Other masterpieces of monumental art were intended for decoration of the internal and external architectural components. The best samples are the following: granite mosaic Nemunas and Ratnyčia (by B.Klova) – intended for facades of rehabilitation facilities decor, stained-glass samples by K. Morkūnas – for the pump-room of the sanatorium „Eglė„. In 1981 „On the eve of the 64th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, with participation of the Republican Government leaders and the Lithuanian Communist Party representatives the memorial for the great leader Lenin was finally inaugurated. A new page of representation of V.I. Lenin’s image was created on that day. The monument creators were the sculptor and demotic painter of the Lithuanian SSR Napoleonas Petrulis and architects Aušra and Romualdas Šilinskai„.In 1987 Druskininkai celebrated its last Soviet anniversary. Especially on the occassion Vilnius avenue presenting ceramic row of sculptures by J. And B. Arčikauskai was introduced to the audience.
On October 30, 1988 it was the first time in Druskininkai’s history that an official tricolour Lithuanian flag fluttered to the breeze at the head of the parade. It was attesting to the new age truth!