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Lietuvos tūkstantmečio programos kilnojama paroda „Lietuva: kultūra ir istorija“ / Exhibition “Lithuania: Culture and History”, marking the  Millennium Of Lithuania

Virtuali paroda II dalis / Virtual Exhibition II part

Restoration of the Lithuanian State / Lietuvos valstybės atkūrimas

During the First World War, the German army occupied Lithuania. As circumstances in the war changed, Lithuania grew less interested in autonomy and it began to seek full independence. A conference was held in Vilnius to discuss the restoration of Lithuanian independence. Members included delegates representing land-owners, representatives of political parties and different political persuasions as well as Lithuanian émigrés. The Lithuanian Council was chosen as the means of representing the nation’s affairs and implementing the resolutions from the conference. On February 16, 1918, Lithuanian Council members led by Jonas Basanavičius, signed the Act of Lithuanian Independence in Vilnius. After the Germans had formally capitulated, their troops retreated from Lithuania. Russia’s Bolshevik army quickly took their place. At the same time, Bermontian forces (West Russian Volunteer Army) were ravaging northern Lithuania. Immediate military strength was required to defend the newly founded state. The first units consisted of volunteers who had been guaranteed land for their service. After fierce fighting, the volunteers succeeded in ridding Lithuania of both the Bolsheviks and the Bermontians. Far more complicated was the conflict with Poland. On October 7, 1920, a treaty that established a border between the two states was signed. Two days after having signed the treaty, the Poles occupied eastern Lithuania with its capital Vilnius. The League of Nations became involved and declared a demarcation line that left Lithuania without a third of its territories, severing the newly formed state from its historical capital. Lithuanian lands occupied by the Poles were subjected to a policy of Denationalization.                      
1. Declaration of the National Council of Lithuania Minor, which made attempts to unite with Lithuania. Poster, 1936
2. Members of the Council of Lithuania and the Act of Independence of Lithuania
3. Meeting of the Lithuanian-American Seimas. New York, 1918
4. First office of Lithuanian ministers; third on the left, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augustinas Voldemaras, 1918
5. Lithuanian army volunteers who served in battles against Poland, 1920
6. Delegates from the Suvalkai peace negotiations (1920), left – Poles, right – Lithuanians. The Poles signed the treaty before a Crucifix but broke the treaty two days later

A National State / Tautinė valstybė

After two years of fighting, the Lithuanian Constituent Assembly issued a resolution concerning the country's future – Lithuania that had been reestablished on the principle of self-determination. It declared that Lithuania was to be a democratic republic. The most important act of the Assembly was the ratification of Lithuania’s constitution on August 8, 1922. Lithuania's democratic parliamentary system was to last only until the 1926 coup d'état. A president of the state was chosen – Antanas Smetona. In 1927, the Seimas was dissolved and did not resume until 1936. It was extremely important for the young Lithuanian state to receive international recognition. Only in 1922, did Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, the Holy See, and the U.S. accept Lithuania de jure. A great international victory for Lithuania was the reunification of Klaipėda and its surrounding region to Lithuania in 1923. After a local uprising supported by Lithuania, Klaipėda was recognized as a part of Lithuania and remained a part of the country until 1939. After the First World War, Lithuania was an agricultural country with a rather weak industrial sector. Its major trade partners were Germany, England, and the Soviet Union. During the interwar period, Lithuanian national culture and art was fostered and flourished as a result. Great works in both literature and music were created while important academic works were written during this period.
1. Members of Lithuania’s Constituent Assembly near the monument “To Those Who Have Died for Lithuanian Freedom.” Kaunas, 1921
2. Volunteers of Klaipėda and surrounding regions at the time of the uprising, 1923
3. Second President of the Republic of Lithuania (1922–1926), Aleksandras Stulginskis
4. Kazys Grinius – President of Republic of Lithuania from 1924 until the 1926 coup
5. President of Republic of Lithuania, Antanas Smetona
6. First Lithuanian Song Festival. Kaunas, 1924
7.; Pilots S. Darius and S. Girėnas aside the “Lituanica”, 1933. The Lithuanian pilots made a significant flight in the history of world aviation across the Atlantic Ocean, and crashed under mysterious circumstances close to their destination, Kaunas, Lithuania

An End to Independence / Nepriklausomybės praradimas

Having applied a great deal of political pressure on the fledgling republic, the Third Reich forced Lithuania to return the Klaipėda region to Germany in 1939. Later that same year, on August 23, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed by both Germany and the Soviet Union behind closed doors. The pact was to divide Central and Eastern Europe into two spheres of influence. In September 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union attacked Poland, heralding the beginning of the Second World War. Under Soviet influence, Lithuania's government was forced to sign a treaty calling for mutual assistance. According to the treaty Lithuania was to reclaim Vilnius and the surrounding area. In exchange, Lithuania was to maintain Soviet troops on its soil. On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to the Lithuanian republic – an ultimatum that meant a great number of Soviet troops could enter the territory. Although such demands broke all agreements that had been reached, Lithuania, with absolutely no support from the democracies in the West, dared not to oppose the will of the Soviet Union. The next day, Lithuania was occupied – a few days later, the same fate befell Estonia and Latvia. Antanas Smetona, president of the Republic, was able to flee to Germany. Almost immediately afterwards, a puppet “Government of the people" was formed and a “Seimas (Parliament) of the People,” whose members were chosen through non-democratic means, declared Lithuania's accession into the Soviet Union.
1. Poster, “Estonia Latvia Lithuania,” dedicated to the signing of the Baltic States' Mutual Aid Treaty in Geneva on September 12, 1934. This treaty was later to allow the Soviet Union to accuse Lithuania of forming a military union against Moscow – and was a pretext for breaking the treaty in 1939. Artist V. Jomantas
2. Soviet army crosses the Lithuanian border, June 15, 1940
3. Calvary parade of the Lithuanian army around 1938
4. At the Guards of the Three Cross, regained Vilnius, 1939
5. Last government of the Republic of Lithuania, 1940

Second World War / Antrasis pasaulinis karas

Having successfully occupied Lithuania, the Soviet Union began a policy of massive repression. Many members of the intelligentsia were arrested, Lithuania’s army was disbanded, and the majority of its officers shot. On June 14–18, 1941, Lithuanians were deported en masse. Around 18,000 Lithuanians were transported east in cattle cars in the most inhumane of conditions. The majority were teachers, lawyers, and farmers who had owned property. On June 22, 1941, Germany declared war on the Soviet Union. The Soviet army pulled out of Lithuania. The underground anti-Soviet organization, Lithuania’s Activist Front, took advantage of the situation and started an insurrection. Already on June 23, a declaration reaffirming Lithuanian independence was issued and a constituent government was established. Rebels took control of a large portion of the country. Lithuania's constituent government was not approved by Germany and was liquidated in a period of weeks. A government of the occupiers assumed control – a government that was to orchestrate mass killings of Jews and place Lithuanians into forced labor. In 1944, leadership of Lithuania again changed hands – this time from Nazi Germany to Stalinist Russia. During the War, many people in Lithuania were killed, industry was destroyed, agriculture devastated, Lithuanian culture repressed, cities reduced to rubble and burnt while many objects of art and culture were stolen and/or destroyed.
1. Victims of the Soviet Army’s Pravieniškės killings, June 26, 1941
2. Child selling sunflowers on a street in the Kaunas ghetto, 1941–1943
3. Wooden synagogue in Šaukėnai, northern Lithuania, built in the 18th century, burned down during World War II
4. Propaganda poster of the German occupation government, “The German solider fights for you, work for him.” J. Penčyla, 1942
5. The Aleksotas Bridge destroyed by the retreating Soviet army. Kaunas, June 1941

Lithuanian Jews / Lietuvos žydai

The history of Jewish community, a sizable and traditional ethno-religious minority in Lithuania in the past, spans the period of more than 600 years. The first mentioning of Jewish community in Lithuania is dated back to 1388, when Grand Duke Vytautas the Great granted generous Charter for Jews in Brest.
Since the beginning of the 16th century, when numbers of Jewish communities started to increase significantly, the state policy became more focused regarding judicial and economical issues of the local Jews. The Jewish communities themselves initiated establishment of self-governing rules and institutions including such as Vaad hamedinat Lita (the Union of Lithuanian Jewish communities) that was founded in 1623.
The 17th and 18th centuries were marked with impressive achievements of Lithuania’s Jews in education and religious studies that eventually resulted in that Lithuania became renown home of the most recognized Talmud interpreters and scholars. The most celebrated among them was Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman, who was titled Vilna Gaon (Vilnius’ genius). Starting the end 18th century the Lithuanian Jewry and in particularly Vilnius community took an advanced position in socio-political activities and movements. Vilnius turned out to be a recognized religious and secular centre for Yiddish culture, Haskala movement (Jewish Enlightenment), Hebraic literature and periodicals. On the other hand, Vilnius became a birthplace of the Jewish Bund, fundamental Zionist ideas. Here, the YIVO (Jewish Research Institute) was founded in 1925. It was the first institution that was heavily involved in research of the Jewish history and the Yiddish language, as well as literature and culture of Jews of Eastern Europe. Distinguished European intellectuals, including Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were honorary members of the YIVO. Headquartered in New York City since 1940, at present the YIVO is the world's preeminent resource centre for East European Jewish Studies, Yiddish language, literature and folklore.
As it was in many other European countries, Jews in Lithuania demonstrated their proactive position and especially in the field of economical life. During the interwar years local Jews supported Lithuania‘s aspirations for its independence participating in fights for freedom, working for diplomatic missions, being engaged in development of state‘s infrastructure, learning Lithuanian language.
Following the tradition, Jews who lived in a former Grand Duchy of Lithuania have become known as Litvaks to outline customs prevailing in their lifestyle and world outlooks. Litvaks have spread all over the world. Many of world famous artists, scientists and even Noble Prize winners were Litvaks in their origins. Among the most prominent Lithuanian born Litvaks were Elizer Ben-Yehuda, the founder of Modern Hebrew, the world-famed violinist Yasha Heifetz, the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz and the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, such poets and writers as Jehuda Leib Gordon, Moshe Kulbak, Abraham Suckever, Abraham Mapu, Chaim Grade.
The background as a Litvak is still considered to be a matter of pride not only for Jews from Lithuania but also worldwide. It has contributed much in the rebirth of Lithuanian Jewish community in independent Lithuania despite its huge destruction and losses during the Second World War.

1. Distribution of Jewish communities in Lithuanian cities and townships in the 19th century (the map compiled by the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania)
2. The title page the of the Brest Charter by Vytautas the Great in the First Lithuanian Code of Law   (Lithuanian Statute), 1529
3. The lost Great Synagogue in Vilnius – “Lithuania’s Jerusalem” photo by J. Bulhak, 1940
4. The portrait of Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman (1720–1797), Vilna Gaon. Lithography, early 20th century
5. The main entrance hall in the YIVO building, c. 1920s
6. Wooden headstones in Kvėdarna cemetery, Western Lithuania photo by G. Grižbuckis and A. Varnas, 1928
7. Students at the monument in memory of Ludoviko Zamenhof, a father of Esperanto, in Veisėjai, 2003

Second Soviet Occupation / Antroji sovietų okupacija

As the Soviet Union once again resumed control of Lithuania, partisan units were created en masse. Partisans interfered with the Soviet Union’s attempt to set up an occupational government. They fought against the pseudo-elections and their consequent results, the propagation of Soviet ideologies, the liquidation of private property, and the deportation of Lithuania’s inhabitants. On February 10–20, 1949, Lithuania's Council of Partisan Leaders convened. The armed rebellion organization was called the Lithuanian Movement of Freedom Fighters. The leader of the partisans was Jonas Žemaitis. A declaration was signed at a meeting on February 16, in which the Lithuanian Movement of Freedom Fighters was declared the highest political organ of the people as it led Lithuania’s struggle for freedom, strove to end foreign occupation, and wished to have democratic elections organized. As a result of the intense efforts of the occupying power, the partisan forces grew weaker each year. Twenty thousand partisans and their supporters were killed, and 140,000 Lithuanian inhabitants were deported to concentration camps in Siberia.
                      Having suppressed the armed rebellion, the Soviet Union was subjected to a passive form of civil resistance. Underground organizations were founded, and an underground press was established. “The Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church” (1972–1988) documented the infringement of human and religious rights in occupied Lithuania and was later sold and published in the West. Protesting against the occupation of Lithuania, Romas Kalanta set himself alight in Kaunas in 1972.  In 1976, the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, which campaigned in the name of Lithuanian dissent, was founded. The establishment of the Lithuanian Freedom League as well as other dissident organizations followed. In the free world, Lithuania’s diplomatic representatives continued to carry out their duties, working in Washington, the Vatican, and Paris. These same Lithuanian diplomats continuously sent messages to foreign ministers in their respective countries, reminding them of Lithuania's plight.
1. Partisan District Map 1949–1950
2. Plan of partisan bunkers from a 1960 KGB album
3. Interior of a bunker. Partisans spent a great deal of time in such narrow quarters, especially during winters
4. Partisan Feliksas Daugirdas “Šarūnas” from the Dainava District binds the leg of his colleague-in-arms Vincas Kalanta “Nemunas” (both died June 19–20, 1949)
5. Prisoners in the Soviet Union were used for hard labor in brutal Arctic conditions. Photograph: Extending the Northern Railway near Kurtuj, Irkutsk region, 1956
6. Anti-Soviet meetings occurred after Romas Kalanta’s self-immolation, participants in Kaunas, May 18, 1972
7. Page No. 89, which notes that on July 1, 1948, partisan “Tauras” (Taurus) is awarded
8. Declaration Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters (LLKS), signed February 16, 1949
9. Oath of the Dainava District partisan “Gailius.” It reads, "As up to now, so it shall be, all our strength dedicated to the struggle for the freedom an prosperity of our Fatherland. With the execution of these duties, God help me."

Restoration of Independence / Nepriklausomybės atkūrimas

In March 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union. The new leader began to initiate social reform. Lithuania was to make use of this “thaw” in Soviet policies. In 1988, Sąjūdis (Reform Movement of Lithuania) was founded. At first, the organization sought greater Lithuanian autonomy, but soon set its hopes on a far greater cause – the reestablishment of Lithuanian independence. The first free and democratic elections for a Lithuanian parliament took place in 1990. The elections were won by the reform movement, Sąjūdis, and on March 11, 1990, the reestablishment of Lithuanian independence was declared. In January 1991, the Soviet Union attempted to initiate a coup d'état in Lithuania. Soviet troops took control of government buildings, including Lithuania’s radio and television facilities. Although Lithuanian blood was shed, the Soviet Union was unable to break the people’s resolve as they defended themselves against Soviet tanks with their bare hands. Iceland was the first country to declare official recognition of Lithuania. Having restored its independence, Lithuania has become a nation that embraces democracy, seeks the establishment of a Lithuanian civil society, fosters its culture and heritage, and actively promotes the state’s integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations. In 2004, Lithuania became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a member of the European Union.
1. Rally, supporting the independence of Lithuania, 1990
2. Act of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania concerning the Restoration of Lithuanian independence, March 11, 1990
3. February 26, 1998 the end of one presidential administration and the beginning of another – Mr. Valdas Adamkus (right) and Mr. Algirdas Brazauskas
4. Ceremony commemorating the new members of the European Union, May 1, 2004, when Lithuania becomes a member of the European Union
Castle Mounds / Piliakalniai
Castle mounds bear witness to Lithuania’s pagan history. They were a hub of tribal activities on which fortified dwellings or castles were constructed.  
1. The Castle Mound of Kernavė. It was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2004
2. The Castle Mound of Punia
3. The Castle Mound of Rudamina
Lithuanian Castles / Lietuvos pilys
The country’s stone castles built in the 14th century are Lithuania’s most important heritage from the pagan and early christian period.
1. Trakai island Castle
2. The remains of the Upper Castle in Vilnius
3. A fragment of the Kaunas Castle
4. The remains of the Krėva Castle (present-day Belarus)
5. A fragment of the Lyda Castle (present-day Belarus)
Gotic / Gotika
Gothic art reached Lithuania only at the middle of the 14th century. The late 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century bore witness to the construction of the most impressive monuments in Gothic art and architecture. 
1. The St Anne and Bernardine church ensemble, one of Lithuania’s loveliest architectural ensembles, late 15th–16th centuries
2. Perkūnas House in Kaunas is one of the most original and archaic Gothic secular buildings in Lithuania, built by Hanseatic merchants in the late 15th century
3. St John the Baptist Church in Zapyškis, early 16th century
4. The Great Hall of Trakai Island Castle, early 15th century
5. St Nicholas Church is the oldest surviving Catholic Church in Lithuania, built in the 14th century

I part / I dalis           III part / III dalis



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