“DELTA ZOO”— Independent Lithuania


Independent Lithuania

Amos Lassen

In the ’90s, boys around the world watched VHS karate action films and dreamt of being  superheroes while the rest of the world was dealing with cultural embargos. .On March 11, 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare itself independent. This was the country’s reaction to Soviet aggression. The re-established Lithuanian Army Command decided to create the first-ever national crack commando unit and gave a selective group of young men the chance to be the “Rambos” of their country.

 Members of a top-secret Special Forces Unit were determined to counter Soviet aggression. Most members were given an animal nickname (Spider, Horse, Whale, Crab) and  the unit became known as the Zoo. Parachute jumps and hand-to-hand combat training and securing the KGB building in Vilnius marked the beginning of the end of the USSR.  

“Delta Zoo” is a documentary from filmmaker Andrius Lekavičius that through first-person interviews, cleverly stylized animation, archival footage and original music tells the hidden story of the first-ever Lithuanian Special Forces. The Forces became a courageous, impassioned, and youthful endeavor against the powers that once were.

In January 1991, Soviet troops stormed Vilnius, but unarmed locals resisted them. Fourteen people died and seven hundred were injured. In “Delta Zoo”,  thirteen adolescents who were chosen quickly face the war. Without any preparation, but with a common courage and patriotism, these teens were been able to stop the Soviet tanks with empty hands and karate blows learned from the action movies seen in the videos.

The fight for Lithuanian independence these young men the chance to be heroes, as members of a top-secret Special Forces Unit aimed at countering Soviet aggression. This is the hidden story of a courageous, impassioned, and youthful endeavor against those who wanted to stop their independence.

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