Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holocaust Memorials: Things Left Behind

Berlin, Germany. Der verlassene Raum (The Deserted Room). Karl Biedermann, sculptor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Der verlassene Raum (The Deserted Room). Karl Biedermann, sculptor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Holocaust Memorials: Things Left Behind
by Samuel D. Gruber

Berlin is a city of monuments and memorials, celebrating Prussian power and now, in recent decades, Nazi crimes. The list of Holocaust commemorative sites, plaques, statues, exhibitions in continually growing. This is to say nothing of the more than 5,000 stolpersteine that have now been installed on pavements throughout the city, with many in the Berlin-Mitte neighborhood.  Having so many commemorative sites allows for great variety. Some are explicit and narrative; some conceptual and abstract. Some are generic and some precise. Some are collective, while some remember specific individuals and families. But even when taken together all these monuments cannot convey the enormity of suffering and loss; of astonishment, fear, violence, pain, and death.

Berlin, Germany. Examples of Stolpersteine commemorating former Jewish residents of Grosse Hambrger Str. 30. Photo: Sameul Gruber 2016
I've been to Berlin several times over the past twenty-five years - as this commemorative landscape has expanded neighborhood by neighborhood. Each time different memorials strike a chord.  On this visit, I was especially moved on the short walk up Grosse Hamburger Str. in Mitte, from the Old Jewish cemetery to Koppenplatz, the site of the bronze sculpture Der verlassene Raum (The Deserted Room), by Karl Biedermann, installed in 1996.  The work is a near-perfect example of a genre of monuments I call "things left behind." These works began appearing in Europe in the 1990s and continue to be made today. They rely on contradictions to convey their powerful message of abandonment and loss.

Examples are in Sopron, Hungary, where a 2004 monument by László Kutasis cast from real clothes to suggest the garments left by victims in the "showers" of Auschwitz. In Budapest, the 2005 memorial on the banks of the Danube of cast shoes and boots - to signify the victims who were shot and  thrown into the icy river in 1944-45 by Arrow Cross militiamen  - is another powerful example These Hungarian examples are more spricifc in the references than The Deserted Room which could equally have been installed in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels or any other occupied cavity from which Jews where Jews rounded up and deported. But it also speaks to any place today where refugees must run from their homes, never to return.

Sopron, Hungary. Memorial to the Victims of the Holocaust from Sopron, László Kutas, sculptor, 2004. Photo: szoborlap.hu
Budapest, Hungary. Danube River Monument, 2005. Gyula Pauer, artist. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2009
While these works are conceptual at their core, they are also highly realistic - even hyper realist in their visible subject and form. They juxtapose the commonplace and every-day with the realization of the reality of unspeakable horror and inconsolable lose. Most powerful of all, these works encounter the view on high intellectual level but with personal immediacy.

Berlin, Germany. Der verlassene Raum (The Deserted Room). Karl Biedermann, sculptor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
The bronze sculpture is so natural - one can mistake the table and two chairs as the real thing - though in fact they are slightly bigger than normal and cast in bronze. And yet these cannot be normal - they sit on a faux-parquet floor in a room with walls and ceiling within a small city park. This represent a room on ordinary apartment or houses, that has been left in a hurry. Were the residents who so recently sat at the simple table arrested and deported? Or did they leave suddenly, saving themselves as refugees on the run? Sadly, we must think the former. Around  the edge of the floor are lines from the famous poem O the Chimneys by Nobel Prize Laureate Nelly Sachs. The lines of the third stanza:


O die Wohnungen des Todes, Einladend hergerichtet Für den Wirt des Hauses, der sonst Gast war – O ihr Finger,

Die Eingangsschwelle legend Wie ein Messer zwischen Leben und Tod –

O ihr Schornsteine, O ihr Finger, Und Israels Leib im Rauch durch die Luft!

[O dwellings of death
Set out so enticingly
For the host of the house, who used to be the guest –
O you fingers
Laying the stone of the threshold
Like a knife between life and death –
O you chimneys
O you fingers
And Israel’s body dissolves in smoke through the air!]


Berlin, Germany. Der verlassene Raum (The Deserted Room). Karl Biedermann, sculptor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Der verlassene Raum (The Deserted Room). Karl Biedermann, sculptor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
The lines of the Nelly Sachs poem could have been used for the Sopron memorial, too.

I'll be adding more about the Berlin Commemorative landscape in coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Germany: Berlin's Field of Honor for Jewish Soldiers Killed in World War I

Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor Monument, 1926. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Wreaths laid at Field of Honor Monument, 1926. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber November, 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Germany: Berlin's Field of Honor for Jewish Soldiers Killed in World War I
by Samuel D. Gruber

I've written a few times (2009, 2012) about war monuments for Jewish War dead, especially the many monuments and memorials erected across Europe after World War I, when Jewish soldiers fought in the armies of all the combatant nations. Germany had the most soldiers - approximately 100,000 - and probably did the most the memorialize the fallen in the decade after the war. For more on memory and denial of German-Jewish war service see Tim Grady's recent book The German-Jewish Soldiers of the First World War in History and Memory (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013).   

I'm not aware of any compendium of images and information on all the monuments erected in cemeteries and synagogues across Germany, but Jews in the 1930s used these (unsuccessfully) to make the case of their German patriotism in the face of growing Nazi oppression. At the time, perhaps the best known and probably the largest of these was the Field of Honor created for the war dead at Berlin's Jewish Cemetery at Weissensee, the large burial ground opened in 1880 in the northeastern part of the city. Designed by Community architect Alexander Beer (who would later die in the Terezin Concentration Camp), the Field and its 394 graves are very well maintained, even though much of the adjacent cemetery area is still being tamed after decades of neglect. The war cemetery was situated right behind the new Hall of Mourning. This structure was destroyed by bombs in the Second World War. Its ruins now a grassy mound.

Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor Wall. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor Wall. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
The entire 49 x 90 meter memorial ground is encircled by a wall of Rudersdorf limestone, with the main approach from the north and the direction of the cemetery entrance. At its center is a large 3-meter high monument shaped like an altar; installed in 1926. The inscription on the front indicated that it was presented by the Reich Confederation of Jewish Frontline Soldiers (RjF). The field includes graves of soldiers who died in the war and those who later died of their injuries. The first dead soldier buried here was Rifleman Sally Perlmann (30 May 1884 - 12 October 1914). The last grave was added in 1941, during the period when many Jewish veterans had already fled the country, been imprisoned, or deported to their deaths.  In all about 12,000 Jews died fighting for Germany in war; 30,000 Jews were decorated. There were 2,000 Jewish officers. An article from published in May 21, 1933 by Jewish Telegraphic Agency about Berlin Jewish cemeteries was already prescient:
The so-called Heroes Cemetery, where Jewish dead of the great war are buried, is here a cemetery within a cemetery. The rows of graves are arranged with military precision, all alike, a touching answer to the anti-Semitic charges levelled against us in this present period of German life. These dead Jewish soldiers are only a small fraction of the many thousands of German Jews who gave their lives for Germany on the battlefields. The living Jews are vilified, but of these dead Jews no word is said. The field of honor in Weissensee is a monument only for us Jews. The rest refuse to hear of it.
I visited Weissensee earlier this month, just a few days after Armistice Day (November 11th), when all the country's war dead are remembered in public ceremonies and wreath laying. This year marked the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Weissensee memorial, and so it had special significance and poignancy.  Especially moving is the large form of a resting lion on the front of the monument. I see this in contrast of the long history of representation of the Jewish people lions; descendants of Judah and defenders of Torah. The lion's watchful repose is also in contrast to the violent image of a wounded lion on the soldiers' monument in the Jewish cemetery of Gyongyos, Hungary.

Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Wreaths laid at Field of Honor Monument. Wreaths form the German military and the Israeli Defense Forces lie side by side. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber November, 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor Monument, 1926. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber, 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor Monument, 1926. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber, 2016
After 1945 the Field of Honor, like the entire cemetery, was increasingly neglected. It was restored between 1995 and 1998 at the initiative of the Bundeswehr with the financial support of the German War Graves Commission, the Berlin Senate's Department of Urban Development, the Berlin Jewish Community, and the Axel-Springer Foundation. At the time of my visit - so close to the memorial day - the site was immaculate; a field of somber autumn hues enlivened by the splash of color on the memorial wreaths laid at the monument by many Jewish and German organizations.

Sources: 

Ofer Adaret, "When Hitler Honored Jewish Soldiers," Haaretz (July 5, 2014)

Regina Borgmann and Fiona Laudamus, The Jewish Cemetery, Weissensee, Berlin (Berlin: Jewish Community of Berlin, 2011).

Tim Grady, The German-Jewish Soldiers of the First World War in History and Memory (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press,

Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Field of Honor. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Berlin, Germany. Weissensee Jewish Cemetery. Main entrance. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
 


Monday, November 14, 2016

Lithuania: Gathering of Stones from Vilnius's Uzupis Cemetery Moves Forward

Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Temporary sign explaining gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016
Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016
Lithuania: Gathering of Stones from Vilnius's Uzupis Cemetery Moves Forward
by Samuel D. Gruber

A year ago I wrote about at length about the great Uzupis Cemetery in Vilnius, founded in the 19th century and bulldozed from 1965-1968 during the Soviet occupation of Vilnius. Tens of thousands of matzevot were uprooted from the graves they marked. Many were smashed into rubble. Others were transported nearly-whole to build stairs and walls throughout the city.

Very slowly, some hundreds of these stones are being retrieved and removed to the cemetery. This process began more than a decade ago when many  stones used to construct a huge staircase  to the Trade Union headquarters were recovered and some were  used to create the monument now at the cemetery (you can see that the stones were cut for stairs). Many more remain embedded in buildings of the Soviet era. They are still there. Some have been firmly identified as matzevot. The identity of other stones, such as those used for the steps of the Reformed Evangelical Church in Pylimo Street is sometimes contested, though to my eyes at least one stone of church steps is clearly a Jewish matzevah (see photo).  The church was used as a cinema during the Soviet era, when the stairs were apparently rebuilt.  I also reported in 2011 about gravestones in a wall of a Middle School.
 

Vilnius, lithuania. Jewish gravestone used in the stairs of the Reformed Evangelical Church on Pylimo Street. Photo: Samuel D. Grbuer Oct. 2016.
Last year the mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius announced that he would address this issue. First, some signs were posted where the stones have been identified alerting the public to their history and misuse.

Vilnius, Lithuania. Sign posted by City of Vilnius in 2015 at former power substation prior to removal of gravestone fragments from outer wall. The sign - in Lithuanian and English - cites this as an example of "Soviet barbarism ... using ravaged Jewish gravestones."  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016.
A few weeks ago (October) I saw some first progress in the retrieval of some fragments. The former electrical substation across the road from the cemetery has been stripped of the gravestone fragments that were used for exterior walls. In large part it was the international attention in the Daily Mail and other media given to the discovery of these stones that brought the the local government to quickly act. Now these fragments, and some others from around the city, have been transported to the cemetery where they are now being sorted, catalogued and where there are legible inscriptions, transcribed. A team from the University of Vilnius, including former project coordinator of MAZEVA, Ruta Anulyte, who is now a Ph.D, student in cultural heritage studies, is doing the work for the city.

Vilnius, Lithuania. Former power substation after removal of gravestone fragments from out wall. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016.
Vilnius, Lithuania. Former power substation after removal of gravestone fragments from out wall. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016.
So far, there are hundreds of fragments that have been gathered. Many of these have traces of inscriptions in several languages - but all clearly commemorate the city's Jewish dead. Hundreds more fragments have no inscriptions - but are surely gravestone fragments. No decisions have been made about how to protect and present these pieces and the thousands of similar ones still embedded in the walls and pavements of Vilnius and surrounding areas. I'll address some possible solutions in the an upcoming blogpost.

I am hopeful that Mayor Šimašius will continue the process, even though he will face some resistance from property owners. I suggest that all these gravestones be declared objects of cultural heritage and that their removal by the Soviets be recognized as both part of a process of ethnic cleansing and property theft. All identified stones should be legally recognized as stolen property and as with any other stolen property, every effort should be made to return them to their place and owner of origin. If this principle is fully recognized then financial arrangements can be more effectively discussed and arranged to assist present-day owners - who most often have nothing to do with the original theft and reuse.

Compared to the more contentious issue of the re-developed of the 1970s sports center located on the site of the even older Piramónt (Snipiskis) cemetery, this problem of gathering stones back to Uzupis should be mostly logistical - not political, economic or urbanistic. This is not about guilt - those who removed these stones in the 1960s have long been out of power, and the destruction in the cemetery was part of a wide-ranging policy of confiscation of religious and private properties.

After the electrical substation removal - which we can judge as a pilot project - the next big challenge will be the removal of an unknown number - but hundreds - of larger stones presently stored and neglected at the “Vilniaus žaluma” nursery in northeastern Vilnius. It seems likely that these stones are the bulk of the matzevot removed from the steps to the Soviet Labor Palace in 1992. Apparently only a smaller portion of the stones were incorporated into the monument built at the cemetery ten years later.

In 2015, Julius Norwilla, who has written extensively about the "lost" matzevot, suggested that instead of returning the stones to Uzupis, they should be taken to the Piramónt (Snipiskis) cemetery, and used to create a monument - that would be either an alternative to the planned convention center or at least stand in defiant opposition; a rebuke from the dead of past generations. My own thinking is that the stones should be reunited as much as possible with the bodies they were erected to remember - and thus taken to Uzupis. But this is all part of what should be an ongoing public and creative discussion. The problem is not one that stops in Vilnius. The gathering of stones continues across many borders - with few rules or even guidelines about how proceed, and with little discussion about the purposes and the effects of the action, and who should be responsible for the work and the interpretation. Really, who owns these stones? Who owns this history?

Here are images of just a few of the inscribed gathered stones. Click the picture for a bigger image.  The working team will appreciate volunteers willing to help translate and annotate longer inscriptions.


Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016
Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016
Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016

Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stone. Though the inscription is in Cyrillic letters, the deceased name - Chaim Brody - is clearly that of Jew. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016
Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016

Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. This is one of the larger and more intact gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016

Vilnius, Lithuania. Uzupis cemetery. Gathered stones. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct. 2016



Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lithuania: Restoration Work at Žiežmariai Wooden Synagogue has Begun

Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016.
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. historical sign at synagogue. This was posted outside, but now it is inside. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016
Lithuania: Restoration Work at Žiežmariai Wooden Synagogue has Begun - Hopes are for a Wooden Synagogues Museum
by Samuel D. Gruber
 
I was recently in Lithuania to participate in a small workshop organized by the Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East European Jews to discuss the state of Jewish heritage sites in Lithuania, and the best ways to tie these together into a coherent and accessible Jewish heritage route (or routes). This follows the formal establishment of a Jewish Cultural Route Association in December, 2015, and the recent launch of a Discover Jewish Lithuanian app. The Association includes the municipalities of Ukmergė and Kėdainiai, the regional administration of the Joniškis district, the Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East European Jews and the Association of Lithuanian Museums. more partners are expected to join. Martynas Uzpelkis, representing the Jewish Community of Lithuania, made a presentation at the workshop, about Community initiatives, though at this stage the Community is not as involved in the Jewish Cultural Route as I hope they will be. Since creating the position of Specialist for Heritage Preservation three years ago, the Community has been much more pro-active in cultural heritage site issues, especially outside of Vilnius.

The two days of meetings included one day visiting sites (in the pouring rain) and one day in discussion. There were many topics covered - but foremost were the issues of site conservation,  preservation, interpretation and presentation, and how to create an local and international tourism infrastructure that can assist and support visitation of sites and appreciation of Lithuanian Jewish history, as well as broadening understanding of Judaism as a religion and culture.

Presently, most efforts to protect and preserve Jewish heritage sites outside of Vilnius and Kaunus are local initiatives, though often in cooperation with the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Those taking the lead are sometimes flying blind - they have the nest of intentions but have little guidance and few local precedents to learn from. Local political leaders - such as the mayor of Žiežmariai - have sometimes stepped out in front of their constituencies to take responsibility for Jewish sites. They need our encouragement, advice and support. The Žiežmariai synagogue (or beit midrash) owned by the Jewish Community of Lithuania, and managed by the Kaisiadorys District Municipality Administration.

Last fall, I reported on the restoration of the wooden synagogue of Pakruojis, which was just about to begin. Happily, this work is well underway, and the ongoing restoration and conversion of the building into a children's library has made some remarkable discoveries of previous hidden original features, including fragments of painting on boards from the wooden ceiling. 

Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Interior wall showing original log construction. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016.
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Interior wall showing original construction. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016.
In May 2016, the restoration of the wooden synagogue of Žiežmariai had begun. Three weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit the work and talk with the Mayor Vytenis Tomkus and the architect.  We were lucky to have Vladimir Levin from the Center for Jewish Art in Jerusalem with us, since Valdimir had studied the building for the inventory and publication Synagogues of Lithuania.  His advice on the restoration was especially valuable to the local architect. Both Vladimir and I stressed that the Žiežmariai synagogue's greatest value was its authenticity, and that extreme effort was worth taking to protect and preserve every bit of original fabric in the building as possible. 

The goal of the project should not be to fully restore the building, but to protect it and bring it to a level (new roof, water handling envelope, mechanical systems, etc.) to allow it to safely function as an exhibition and activity center. In this day when many other localities (such as Bilgorai, Poland) are eager to erect recreations of wooden synagogues the appeal of Žiežmariai must be its claim as the "real thing".  

Žiežmariai is one of the latest wooden synagogues to be built, probably rebuilt around 1918. It  also, however, one of nearly a wooden dozen survivors that best preserves the most original features (you can read a full description of the building below). Importantly, the town of Žiežmariai lies on the much-traveled route between Lithuania's two major cities - Vilnius and Kaunus - so that that once restored the building will easily accessible to visitors. There are also other related Jewish sites in the vicinity. 

The synagogue also has meaning as a Holocaust site - since it was used as a camp for Jewish slave laborers.

Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. The lower parts of the bimah columns have may layers of original paint, the latest in a faux-marble patter. . Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016.
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Interior view showing one (left) of two surviving original bimah columns. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016.
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Newly fashioned bimah columns to replace those missing. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber Oct 2016.
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. View of womens' gallery. Photo:Sergey Kravtsov, 2004 - Center for Jewish Art Archives
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Restoration of womens' gallery. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Traces of original wall decoration, Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Žiežmariai, Lithuania. Synagogue. Traces of original wall decoration, Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016

Following is a detailed description of the Žiežmariai synagogue or beit midrash adapted from Synagogues in Lithuania vol 2, N-Z  (Vilnius, 2012), 408-413, written by Sergey Kravtsov, Giedrė Mickūnaitė, and Vladimir Levin:
The beit midrash was probably built in the second half of the 19th century, and must have been severely damaged in the fire of 1918. It is located to the southeast of the central town square, in the midst of the quarter behind Vilniaus Street (once the main thoroughfare of the town), facing a large unpaved square, some 100 m northeast of the Church of Jacob the Apostle.

The exterior of the wooden beit midrash shows clearly the interior division into a prayer hall on the southeast and the vestibule with women’s section above it in the northwest. The building has retained its form as seen on photographs from the 1930s.


The beit midrash is a milled wood log house, built on a masonry foundation. It has a rectangular plan, 22.57 by 17.19 m, with its shorter sides facing southeast and northwest. Its maximal height is 9.65 m. The lofty southeastern part of the building housed a prayer hall.. The northwestern part includes a central vestibule and two chambers on either side on the ground floor, and a women’s section on the first floor. An extension with a staircase to the women’s section is adjacent to the western corner of the building with a door opening on its southeastern side. The entire log structure is spanned with a hipped roof in a truss construction.


The main entrance to the building is cut through the center of the northwestern façade, where traces of a demolished exterior lobby are still evident. The windows of the two-storey part of the building are rectangular. Another door leading directly to the prayer hall is located on the northeastern façade.
The prayer hall  with 18 windows (one of them is combined with a door) is nearly square; it measures 13.86 m from southeast to northwest and 15.00 m from northeast to southwest; it is 5.13 m high. The ceiling of the prayer hall is supported by two heavy longitudinal beams, which rest on the division wall of the women’s section, the southeastern wall of the hall and the central pillars. Originally, the ceiling of the prayer hall was planked; some planks remain in the eastern corner, in very poor condition. The interior of the building was originally lathed, plastered, and whitewashed, though much of the plaster is missing. Most of the interior adornments are lost, although the wooden patera in the ceiling above the bimah and the capitals of the central pillars still exist (Fig. 10); these elements are painted white, blue and gold. A fragment of painted frieze with a repeated stencil rose design in between a broad blue band and red dotted line is traceable on the northwestern wall. The Torah ark stood at the center of the southeastern wall, in the wide pier between the central windows.

A painted plaster relief showing a palmetto held in what looks like a triangular vase, was situated above the ark and is still visible. The entrance to the prayer hall is located in the center of the northwestern wall, above which, in the interior, there are fifteen segment-headed openings connecting the hall to the women’s section. There are six round-headed windows on each of the southeastern and southwestern sides of the prayer hall, and five such windows and a round-headed door combined with a window in the northeastern wall. The frames of all the openings were painted gold. In general, the forms and colors of the interior decoration hint at Neo-Classicist aesthetics, while the palmetto may be inspired by Lithuanian folk motifs.