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Let me introduce myself. Vilhelmas Vilius Storosta. Actually, you may know me better by another name – I am Vydūnas. Philosopher, writer, playwright, composer, conductor, teacher. Human.
I was born in 1868 and come from Jonaičiai in Šilutė County. At that time, I remember, it was the Kingdom of Prussia. I grew up in a swarm of 10 brothers and sisters, I studied at Ragainė seminary. When I finally turned 21, I started teaching in Kintai which is near the Curonian Lagoon. When I arrived, I was already seriously ill, everyone said that I would not get better. I walked a lot around the pine forests of the coast, breathed the fresh air, and didn’t eat meat. At that time, remember, it was a strange thing for a Lithuanian to live without meat, but I had a very strong desire to recover. And I did. I got back on my feet in the spring of 1892. I was accompanied by a lady who kindly took care of me all this time – Klara Füllhase, I decided to marry her. After crossing the Queen Louise Bridge, we found ourselves in Tilsit, where I taught French and English for 20 years. I thought, as a Lithuanian, I exhibit the most noble human qualities – I read scripture, religious scripts of non-Christian nations, attended lectures on culture, history, nature, art. I studied at the Universities of Greifswald, Halle, Leipzig and Berlin.
Much to our delight, the beginning of the 20th century was a busy and important time for the Lithuanian people – they began to build their government and a new independent life. The Germans hated it and mostly targeted me – in 1934 they took away my book about Germans and Lithuanians. I believed that I was able to live my life to give it meaning, but then, sitting in prison, locked up, I relived it all over again. I felt like 1000 wolves were howling around me. It was very cold for me at the beginning of the Second Great War, that darkness engulfed the entire Lithuanian nation and affected all of humanity. Expelled from Tilsit, I was taken to Detmold in Germany and I was received very well, I must say. I felt almost at home. On the way to one of my last lectures, I caught a severe cold, and in 1953 I said goodbye to this world. Oh… and I’ve been standing here since the autumn of 2019. It is symbolic, perhaps, that the ribbon was cut off on Science and Knowledge Day – witnessed by students from all over the city.
Now that the storms have subsided, I take quite walks, barefoot, on the still green shores of the stream of my memories. When I see the youngsters, members of the Queen Louise Youth Center in Klaipeda, I remember the boys’ gymnasium there that was named after Queen Louise. When the little ones of Klaipeda come to refresh their feet in the water on hot summer days, I look at them from this platform and think – what a bright future is growing for Lithuania. I know that we will all follow the paths that Fate has laid for the Lithuanian nation. They lead towards the light of humanity.
Most respectfully, I, Vilhelmas Storosta – Vydūnas, bid you farewell.
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