Aug 1, 2009
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All images: Azillphotos
When confronted with the issue of what to do with an ex-Soviet bunker in the countryside, an enterprising Lithuanian decided that some things should be left the way they are…
Welcome to 1984: Išgyvenimo Drama, otherwise known as Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker.
Built near Vilnius in 1980, when Lithuania was still a part of the USSR, the bunker’s past life includes protecting a television transmitter and acting as a secure outpost for Soviet troops. Encompassing 4,000 cubic meters and buried 5 meters deep, the bunker is a remnant of Soviet occupation, which the Lithuanians have found more difficult to get rid of than the army.
Instead of letting the building fall into complete disrepair, some lucrative Lithuanians decided to put the bunker to some use, so, concerned about young Lithuanians lack of understanding about their country’s past, producer Ruta Vanagaite was prompted to create a re-enactment project, demonstrating the experiences of the previous generation.
Išgyvenimo drama opened in early 2008 to some controversy. Tourists pay 120 LTL ($US 220) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker.
Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.
The Soviet Bunker is not a theme park for the faint-hearted; all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators, however there are performances tailored specifically for school groups so they know when to cool it, too.
Before heading back into the real world, participants are treated to a shot of vodka. They leave with a better understanding of life under Soviet occupation and, no doubt, a new respect for their elders past.
Source Soviet Bunker