Lithuanian diplomat's novel in Estonian

  • 2010-03-25
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

DIPLOMATIC CO-OPERATION: The Estonian publishing house Varrak published the novel titled “Look for Moscow’s Sphinx” (the Estonian title is “Otsi Moskva Sfinksi”) written by Alfonsas Eidintas, Lithuanian diplomat and historian. The novel deals with the political situation in Lithuania in 1938-1940. The book was translated from Lithuanian into Estonian by Mart Tarmak, Estonian ambassador to Portugal.

VILNIUS - The Estonian publishing house Varrak published the novel titled Look for Moscow’s Sphinx (the Estonian title is Otsi Moskva Sfinksi) written by Alfonsas Eidintas, Lithuanian diplomat and historian. He was Lithuanian ambassador in Israel, Norway and other countries. Now Eidintas works in the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. The novel, which is based on historical documents, deals with the political situation in Lithuania in 1938-1940.

The book points to insufficient co-ordination among the Baltic states on the eve of the USSR’s aggression. The book was translated into Estonian by Mart Tarmak, Estonian ambassador to Portugal. In 1990-1992, Tarmak worked as an Estonian diplomat in Vilnius. Earlier, he studied the Lithuanian language at Vilnius University.
“It was very interesting to read Eidintas’ book. I understood immediately that this book will be interesting to Estonians as well. And it would be not only because it contains the detailed conversation between Petras Klimas, Lithuanian ambassador in Paris, and Estonian Ambassador Otto Strandman about the foreign policy of the Baltic states,” Tarmak said, according to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s press release.

Klimas is mostly known to the wider Lithuanian public due to prophecies by Oskaras Milasius, another Lithuanian diplomat in Paris and colleague of Klimas. Milasius is known in France as French-language poet Oscar Milosz. He was born the son of a Jewish mother and Polish-speaking nobility father in what is now known as Belarus. Due to the fact that it was historically a part of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy, he learned Lithuanian and was a devoted Lithuanian patriot. This chain-smoking Catholic mystic, who died on the eve of WWII, was known for his public comments and frightening prophecies in the  1930s in the Lithuanian embassy in Paris: he described the future life of his colleague Klimas, including Klimas’ future sufferings in many prisons.

Milasius also gave a description of the approaching WWII, the post-WWII situation of the city of Berlin, the future fate of Lithuania and its capital Vilnius, creation of the state of Israel, the word for word quote “Half of my heart is in Lithuania” by “a high Polish priest” (John Paul II said it in 1978) and the possibility for Vilnius to become the center of world’s civilization after apocalyptic cataclysms when the U.S. and the UK will be devastated by disasters, while Russia would suffer from the fall of “the one-third of the Moon,” as Milasius puts it. (Now, this diplomat-poet would be considered as politically incorrect due to his negative stance towards homosexuality and his prophecy about the conversion of Israel to Christianity).

In October 1939, Klimas had hectic meetings with Estonian and Latvian ambassadors in Paris to discuss the USSR’s intentions in the Baltics. Unfortunately, the Balts had no will or resources to follow the example of Finland, which withstood the USSR’s aggression. In 1943, the Gestapo arrested Klimas, and he spent his time in prisons of France, Belgium, Germany, and Poland. In March 1944, the Nazis released him near the prison in Kaunas, but he was re-arrested after a couple of months by the Soviets. This time he was sent to concentration camps in Siberia and spent 10 years there.

The Look for Moscow’s Sphinx can also be fascinating for those who are interested in the activities of the secret services. Eidintas writes about the activity of the underground Lithuanian Communist Party, which, in fact, was  a bunch of spies of Stalin’s USSR. An especially detailed description is given to the activity of Moscow’s agent Aleksandras Slavinas, who was some kind of Soviet agent 007. His father was a rich Jewish businessman in Kaunas with close business ties in the USSR.
Eidintas was a historian before starting his diplomatic career. This is obvious in his book, published in Lithuanian in 2006. It is more a history book, written in an easy reading style, than a novel. This several hundred-page book, which can be used even as a self-defense tool in case of some unexpected fight, would be interesting for those who seek valuable information about the Baltics of 1938-1940.