Miroslauje

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Miroslauje is a city of 25,000 inhabittants in Skuodia on the coast of Lake Pape.

History

The city was established in 1921 as Rūkuvos Uostas, the only port city in the then independent Lithuania, to which the area had belonged. Two possibilities were being examined for the construction of the new port, one being rebuilding the port on the Šventoji river, and another one - building a port here on lake Papė. Eventually, the latter solution was chosen. The new port and the city surrounding it was to be named "Rūkuvos Uostas", after the town of Rūkuva (Rucava) that is not far away. Preparations for the port itself, digging channels and such began at 1920. At the late 1920 several multistory buildings were built in the surrounding forest (the plan was to conserve as much forest as possible, therefore building a unique city in the forest). At first these buildings had accomodated the construction workers who worked in the port, and later they were planned to accomodate the dockworkers. At first due to the rush at building the new port the planning of the city was not good. Only in 1922 the architects were hired. Therefore the central part of the city is built without much order. The port was completed in 1924 and by the time the city around it had 35,000 inhabittants. Protectionist measures were taken in order to ensure that this port would be used by Lithuanian citizens. In 1925, the railway from Šiauliai to Rūkuvos Uostas was completed, thus connecting the port to the rest of Lithuania by railway. After the 1926 coup in Lithuania the role of the port increased furthermore. Lithuanian Navy stationed there was expanding, the Lithuanian colonial campaign meant that this port was used for the access to the colonies (Maasai (Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis), later also New Lithuania) and the Lithuanian autonomous areas in Tejas. Shipping lines to Tejas were opened. The growth of the city was promoted by the government. In 1933 the road Vilnius-Kaunas-Rūkuvos Uostas, known as the Samogitian Road, was completed. The city itself assumed a modern and grand character as large buildings, such as the administrational unit of the Lithuanian Navy, the Ministry of Colonisation, Lithuanian Shipbuilding Company and others were built, mostly in the Lithuanian adaptation of the modern style (Smetonic style). Industry established in Rūkuvos Uostas as well; it did damage to the enviroiment, which led many trees in the local forests to die. After this, the urban redevelopment campagn destroyed most of forest and replaced it with wide streets and plazas, which was criticised by many of the Baltic faith holders of Lithuania (the government, however, replanted a forest of similar size elsewhere). In 1937 the number of inhabittants in Rūkuvos Uostas surpassed 100,000. Most of the inhabittants were ethnic Lithuanians, Belarusians and Ukrainians, even though the city itself was in the Skuodian-inhabitted territory.

Rūkuvos Uostas trade center (completed 1923) that was one of the symbols of the city and was meant to attract newcomers here stands damaged and closed down (picture was made in 1943)

During the Thunderstorm War in 1939 Rūkuvos Uostas was one of the last places in mainland Lithuania to be captured by Russia, prior to the capture serving as a place from where certain Lithuanian archives were evacuated to the New Lithuania. No major battles were fought in this place, thus the city was largely undamaged. Russians attempted to gain support of the local Slavs and applied SNORist measures. The city itself was renamed Miroslavograd, after one Skuodian leader (the name itself, however, was Russian rather than Skuodian). Russian was declared to be the language of the interethnic communcation and was heavily promoted, while Lithuanian (considered to be the language of former colonists) was banned from public use. When The German-Russian war started in 1943, the city was heavily bombed by the Germans and thus heavily damaged. It was occupied by the Germans later that year. The Germans reversed many key policies, prefering the German and Lithuanian languages over the Slavic ones. Some interethnic disturbances happened in the city during the 1943 and later, during which several hundred people died. In the 1947 the city was again captured by the Russians and this time made part of the newly established puppet state of Skuodia. The city was renamed to Skuodian name Miroslauje, which had been the name of the city always since then. The so-called Act of Return was passed in 1947, which called for the relocation of most of Lithuanians living in the city to the areas where the puppet state of Lithuania was established. Most of Belarusians and Ukrainians were also relocated to their respective homelands, while the Skuodians from these lands (Belarus, Lithuania) were relocated to Skuodia, largely to the city of Miroslauje due to availability of free buildings (although only about 25% of city buildings were not destroyed by the time the Russians entered city in 1947 due to heavy Russian bombing). After the Act of Return was implicated, the city had about 27.000 inhabittants and its center was largely a ghost town. After the war and the fall of the SNORist regime, Lithuania seeked the return of the city to itself on the basis of it being predominantly Lithuanian prior to the war, but this was not done and Klaipėda was given to Lithuania instead as its port.

With Liepietke being the main port of Skuodia, the development of Miroslauje was somewhat slow and the deserted and damaged center of it reminded a ghost town through the 50s and 60s. Its population was further decreasing, with many of those that were returned here according to the Act of Return leaving to Skuoda, Liepietke or elswehere. In early 70s the government of Skuodia decided to redevelop the city. The forest was replanted and large number of districts were demolished, leaving only some buildings (those that were of greater architectural value). Some buildings were repaired, others were not and left as the monument for the war. The port itself was turned into a port for fishermen and yachts. Miroslauje was promoted as a tourist destination, and now the Miroslauje's former center that is already overgrown by trees has an eerie feeling. It is meant to be one great monument for the Second Great War.

This page was created by Abdul-aziz.
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