Museum in Macikai


Prisoner’s Camp museum

Museum is 2 km from Šilutė in township Macikai. The former Macikai Estate was famous for its large brewery. In 1924 the estate (70 ha of land) was rented to the Ministry of Lithuanian National Defence and the ministry bought a part of Macikai Estate buildings where up till 1939, the Seventh Infantry Regiment crew of Samogitian Knight Butigeidis of Lithuanian Armed Forces stayed there.

In 1939-1944, a prisoner’s camp Stalag 1C Heydekrug was established in Macikai, where Polish war prisoners were imprisoned. In 1940, Belgians and French prisoners joined them and Russians in 1941. Imprisonment conditions were differenciated and depended on a prisoner’s nationality. Requirements of the Geneva Convention were not applied to Soviet war prisoners imprisoned there, as the Soviet Union did not sign this convention. According to stories of witnesses, a lot of Russian prisoners died in the winter of 1942-1942 (up to 40 per day).

Stalag 1C Heydekrug was reorganized to Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. It became specialized and was only meant for war prisoners of Air Forces. It operated 1943-1944 when British, Americans and Canadian sergeants were imprisoned there from Stalag Luft I Barth.

At the end of 1944, when the Soviets occupied Lithuania for the second time an internment camp No. 184 was established. The Soviets imprisoned German troops there. Conditions of imprisonment were severe. The main cause of prisoner’s death was dystrophy. Inhumane working conditions had a significant impact here as well. The Soviet Union prisoner’s camp for German troops No. 184 operated till 1948. About 422 people died there during that period.

From 1946 till 1948 War prisoner’s camp for German troops No. 184 was reorganized to GULAG Šilutė (Macikai) camp No. 3 that operated till 1955. After reorganization, civilians inconvenient to Soviet occupation government were imprisoned there. By the data of 1952, it was the largest internment camp in the occupied Lithuania. 3000 people at a time could be imprisoned there and one third of them were Lithuanians. Political prisoners punished for 25 years of correctional works, were kept the most strictly in a separate closed zone. Women and their children born in prison or camp were also imprisoned there, they even had a separate hut. A vast number of people imprisoned there were carried to internment camps in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The real causes of death of people having died at the internment camps were concealed as they were caused by heavy forced labor, frost and famine. While exploring the remaining logbooks of the dead prisoners it was found, that 365 prisoners and 70 children died in the period of 1948-1955. Burying of prisoners according to the GULAG‘s instructions it was required to knock a nail with a grave number.

 Šilutė district municipality Culture department