Thursday, 14 January 2010
They made a film about him!
In 1970, Lithuanian Simas Kudirka sought asylum from the Soviets by jumping onto an US Coast Guard ship. He was a radio operator on a Russian fishing boat. His defection failed and he was sentenced to ten years in a Soviet gulag. As it turned out his mother was actually born in the US, but the family moved back to Lithuania. Because of this four years later, in 1974, Simas and his wife and two children were granted US citizenship. Simas became a spokesperson for a free Lithuania.
In June 1980 he was a guest of the Lithuanian community in Australia. On his visit to Adelaide, he took part in the annual mass deportation commemorations, by laying a wreath at the War Memorial on North Terrace.
His story was made into a film The defection of Simas Kudirka, staring Alan Arkin as Simas.
I can remember being at the War Memorial that day, the first 'real' Lithuanian I had seen.