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Europe's Gamble

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Hill of Faith and Freedom
Photograph by Tino Soriano

A weary walker rests near a statue of Christ on Lithuania's famous Hill of Crosses near the town of Siauliai. Lithuanians began placing crosses on the site to honor countrymen slain by Russian troops in 1831. The practice continued until the end of World War II, when the Soviets took control of Lithuania and banned the crosses. Even after the Communists repeatedly bulldozed the hill, crosses continued to appear there. "Putting a cross on the hill was a sign of political freedom as much as a religious symbol," said Linas Naujalis, who grew up in Siauliai. Today hundreds of thousands of crosses of all shapes and sizes attract thousands of visitors each year, who continue to add to the collection. Naujalis's family has placed two crosses on the hill. "We go there and try to find our crosses," he says, "but it's almost impossible to find them now."

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