The first museum in Lazdijai was founded in 1924 at the old Žiburys Gymnasium by Motiejus Gustaitis, the director of the gymnasium, a priest and an educator. Nowadays, the Lazdijai Regional Museum holds various exhibits of fine art, folk art and ethnography, and it has an exhibition featuring the works of Salomėja Nėris. In addition, various educational activities take place here. Salomėja Nėris settled in Lazdijai as an ‘exile of love’, and from 1928–1931, she taught German in the gymnasium. Here, she wrote a collection of poems called Feet in the Sand (Pėdos smėly), and the poet’s footprints in the sand can be found in the museum even today.
General Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas was a commander of the Southern Partisan District of Lithuania and a renowned fighter for independence. In 1936, Ramanauskas graduated from the Žiburys Gymnasium in Lazdijai, and in 1945 he joined the partisan ranks. In Lazdijai, his commemoration monument was built in the square named after Adolfas Ramanauskas, created by the sculptor Jonas Jagėla.
Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas was an important personality in the Lithuanian Freedom Fight Movement and a signatory to the Declaration of 16th February 1949. Ramanauskas-Vanagas was born in 1918 in the US, and he came to Lithuania with his parents in 1921. He lived in the village of Bielėnai, in Lazdijai District, a where large, stone foundation has been preserved at the place of Ramanauskas’ home to this day.
During the Cold War, there was a protected stretch called the ‘Iron Curtain’ between Lithuania and Poland. The Soviet border guards and their dogs would walk along this road, where the fence served as a high-voltage power line protecting the Soviet Empire from the Western World. Nowadays, you can see the remaining parts of this ‘Iron Curtain’ here.