Travel Guides: Lithuania
Lithuania is a Baltic country in Northern Europe.
The capital city of the country is Vilnius. The country’s western border is with the Baltic Sea. In the north it borders with Latvia, in the south-east with Belarus, south and south-west with Poland and with Russia with the Kaliningrad exclave, obtained from redefining the boundaries of many countries in Europe at the beginning of the period called the Iron Curtain. Over 80% of Lithuania’s population is ethnically Lithuanian and speak the Lithuanian language which is related to the Latvian language. Among others here live Russian, Poland and Belarus people. It is a member of the European Union.
Form of government: republic. Area: 650,000 sq km. Population: 3.700.000 inhabitants. Official language: Lithuanian. Religion: Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy. Capital: Vilnius. Currency: litas. National Day: February 16. Time Zone: GMT+2/3. Internet domain: .lt. Telephone: 00370. Geographic location: Latvia is situated in Northern Europe and is one of the Baltic States, member of the European Union. Relief: Mountains: Jouzapines Kalnas, 292 m. Lakes: Kauno Marios. Rivers: Nemunsa, 937 km, Neris, 468 km. Climate: Cold temperate, with an average winter temperature of -4 ° C (but can reach -20 ° C) and in summer reaches 18 ° C.
Tourism: Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and of the Vilnius County and is situated on the border with Belarus. Vilnius is hosting a Catholic archbishop and here is a university since 1579. It is located in south-eastern Lithuania, at the confluence of the Neris and Vilna Rivers. The distance from Vilnius to the main port of Lithuania, Klaipeda, is 312 km. Also, the city is at a distance of 102 km from Kaunas, 214 km from Šiauliai and 135 km from Panevėžys, these being all major cities of the country. Transport: Vilnius is an important transportation hub in the Baltic area. This is the start of the Klaipėda-Vilnius-Kaunas and Vilnius-Panevėžys highways.
Although it is navigable, the river Neris is not used for shipping. In the city is situated the Vilnius International Airport, the largest in the country. Vilnius is also a station rail hub. Transport network is composed only of Vilnius trolleybuses. In planning is a suburban train system, similar to a subway. Lithuania is a land of castles, lakes and forests. The landscape consists of vast plains, divided by hills and sand dunes along the Baltic coast. This strip is called the Curonian Isthmus and the stretch of water behind the isthmus is called Curonian Lagoon. Klaipeda, Lithuania’s only commercial port is located in the place where the lagoon opens towards the sea. The capital Vilnius is one of the most charming European cities, mainly because of the historic center in baroque style.
Visit other major cities such as Kaunas, listen to the old Lithuania Baltic language, similar to Sanskrit and buy some souvenirs – canvas or ceramic objects. Slightly less than one quarter of Lithuania is covered by forests, particularly in the south-west. These forests are home to moose, deer, boars, wolves and lynxes, although it is unlikely to encounter these animals if you’re not a professional guide. In Lithuania there are over 2,000 otters, Zuvintas Lake being an important habitat for these animals and a stopping place for migratory birds. There are five national parks and several nature reserves in Lithuania, the most important being Kursiu Nerija National Park, with high sand dunes, pine forests, beaches and a lagoon.
Main attractions: Visit the Vilnius interesting churches, including churches St Anne and St Peter and Paul, which houses the St Casimieras’s body one of the most revered of Lithuania’s dukes. The historic center of the town is the largest in Europe and is on UNESCO World Heritage list. Get on Gediminas tower on the hill in the center of Vilnius, to have a panorama of the capital. Visit Kaunas, the city museum, which boasts the Devil’s Museum, a memorial to those who lost their lives during the Nazi occupation and a museum dedicated to the painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. You can also see three theaters, the ruins of an eleventh century castle and an old town hall.
Admire the strange five mounds covered with grass, marking the ancient capital of Lithuania, Kernavė a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Visit the gallery of Palanga Museum and the Botanical Park. To the south lie the town of Klaipeda, a major port and the main ferry links. Forests cover one fourth of the territory of Lithuania; there are five national parks and numerous nature reserves. Visit the lakes in the national parks of Trakai, Žemaitija and Aukstaitija. Admire Nida lighthouse, which was built in 1874. The Cultural Centre is located near Thomas Mann, German writer in the house where he spent his holidays between 1930 and 1932. Gruto Park is a park of Soviet sculptures Soviet, grim reminder of the past.
Enjoy the Mardi Gras festival, which takes place in various towns and villages. Most famous are the processions of February in the historical center of Vilnius. Visit the ancient capital of Lithuania, Trakai, located on the shores of Lake Galvez. The town has a castle dating from the fourteenth century. Relax in the seaside resorts. Nerija Kursiu and Palanga are famous for their clean water, sand dunes and pine forests. Hike in the Curonian Spit National Park, the peninsula separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Here you will find large sand dunes, pine forests and rare flora and fauna. Try extreme sports such as hot air balloon rides and glider. You have the opportunity to jump rope stretched from Vilnius TV tower, the highest point of bungee jumping in Europe.
Visit the capital city during the festival in September and assisted at carnivals, fairs, concerts and fireworks on city streets. Gastronomy: National specialties include skilandis (smoked meat), salt barsciai (cold soup), cepelianai (potatoes stuffed with meat), vadarai (potato sausage) and bulviniai blynai (potato pancakes). Smoked fish is a Baltic delicacy. A famous Lithuanian drink is midus drink, made from honey. Situated on the east coast of the Baltic Sea, with an area of 65,300 km square, Lithuania has a diverse and unpolluted nature with 30% woods, over 2,800 lakes, famous national parks and a picturesque Baltic coast.
Lithuania is recognized as an outstanding tourist destination, a cradle of forests, lakes and medieval castles, cultural vacations or romantic ideal. The main tourist cities are Vilnius – capital of Lithuania, Palanga – the most famous resort on the Baltic Sea, Neringa – the center of the national park Curonian Spit, a UNESCO monument and extraordinary landscapes spas Birštonas and Druskininkai, known for their healing mineral waters and mud. Lithuania’s population is 3,500,000 inhabitants, according to estimates from 2004. Over 80% of Lithuanians are Roman Catholics. The landscape is predominantly lowland country, forests occupy 30% of the land, lakes and rivers the number is 3000. Peak period of the history of Lithuania is the fourteenth century. Then, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, was the largest state in Europe.
Another significant moment is the Commonwealth victory in one of the biggest battles of the Middle Ages, at the Grunwald against Teutonic Knights. In the late eighteenth century, over 90% of Lithuanian territory is occupied by Russia and the country regains its independence in 1918. In 1940 Lithuania is annexed by the USSR, but in 1990 became the first independent Soviet republic. In 2004 Lithuania joined NATO and the European Union. Lithuanian culture is characterized by vibrant folk tradition that includes stories, legends, proverbs and melancholy.
Form of government: Unicameral parliamentary democracy with 141 seats (71 seats elected by popular vote and 70 seats elected by proportional representation) over a period of four years. The landscape consists of fertile plains, 30% of which is covered by forest and numerous lakes scattered across the territory of Lithuania. There are no mountains in Lithuania. The highest peak: Kalnas Juozapines, 293.6 m. Sea: the Baltic Sea gives 90 km of coast. Climate: Continental – Maritime moderate, rainy winters and cool summers. Area: 65.200 km². Neighborhood: Belarus, Latvia, Poland, Russia and Baltic Sea.
Main Cities: Vilnius, Jonava, Utena, Alytus, Butinge, Klaipeda, Slauliai. Administrative Divisions: 10 counties. Radio emission: AM 29, FM 142, ultra – 1 (2001). Medieval Territory: the territory of Lithuania was first mentioned in European history in a medieval German manuscript, Quedlinburg, on 14 February 1009. The Duke of Lithuania in 1235, Mindaugas, is the founder of the Lithuanian state. They states were joined by Mindaugas in 1236, and over the next century Lithuania has extended its territory in what is now Belarus and Ukraine. At the end of the 14th century Lithuania was considered the largest state in Europe.
In 1386 Lithuania was allied with Poland, and in 1569 the two countries have become a safe state: the Group of States (Commonwealth) Polish – Lithuanian. Lithuania became independent after the Second World War, but was annexed by the USSR in 1940. Modern Politics: On March 11, 1990, Lithuania was the first country in the Soviet Republic that declared its Independence, but Moscow did not accept this proclamation until September 1991. Russian troops have withdrawn from the territory of Lithuania in 1993. Lithuania joined NATO and the EU in 2004.
Independence: It was declared on March 11, 1990 and was obtained on 6 September 1991 before the Soviet Union. Organization: Tourism in Lithuania is in a continual growth. The number of tourists in 2005 increased by 11.1% by 2006, the number of tourists in 2006 was 985,700. Druskininkai and Birštonas areas registered an increase of 50% in 2005 compared to 2004. What to see: Curonian Spit, Vilinius – capital of Lithuania, Hills of Crosses – the most awesome and terrifying landscape of Lithuania: two hills covered by thousands of crosses, legendary National Museum, Palanga – capital of the Baltic Sea coast, Druskininkai – a city spa, the largest water park in Eastern Europe.
When to go: Summer and spring (May-September) are the best times to travel in Lithuania. Events: Independence Day – February 16 (February 16, 1918 Lithuania declared its Independence in front of Soviet Russia). Estimated Population: 3575439 inhabitants. Population density: 55 persons / km². Population Distribution: Urban 67% / 33% Rural (2005). Population living below the standard: 4% (2003). Birth rate: 8.87 to 1000 inhabitants. Death rate: 11.05 to 1000 inhabitants. Average Age: 38.6 years. Education Rates: 99.6% – People who know how to read and write (More than 15 years).
Unemployment rate: 5.7% (2006). Ethnic Groups: Lithuanian 83.4%, Poles 6.7%, Russia 6.3%, other or unspecified 3.6% (2001). Emigrants: – 0.72 persons per 1,000 inhabitants. Language: Lithuanian (official) 82%, Russian 8%, Polish 5.6%, other and unspecified 4.4% (2001). Religion: 79% Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox 4.1%, Protestant (Lutheran, Evangelical Christian Baptist), 1.9%, other or unspecified 5.5%, none 9.5% (2001). Transport: airplane, car, train, ship, bus, metro. Shipping routes: 425 km (2005). Highways / Roads: 79.497 km. Railways: 1.771 km. Airports: 87. Ports: 1.
Coin: litas. Gross Domestic Product: $ 54.9 billion (total) (2006). Minimum Wage: $ 277 / month. Average salary: $ 724 / month. Industries: metal, cutting machinery, electric motors, televisions, refrigerators, freezers, petroleum refining, shipbuilding, processing, furniture, textiles, food processing, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, computers, jewelry. Agriculture Products: Sugar beet, potatoes, flax, vegetables, beef, milk, eggs, fish. Money Advice: Hotel accommodation: 30-500 litas, restaurant meals 500-100 litas.
Personalities: Laurynas Gucevicius (1753 – 1798) – An architect of the 18th century that renewed Vilnius Cathedral. It was considered the first professional architect in Lithuania. Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875 – 1911) – painter and composer, the most famous Lithuanian artist even today. He contributed to the symbolism and Art Nouveau, composed 250 songs and 300 pictures painted in the 36 years. Felix Waitkus (Feliksas Vaitkus) (1907-1956) – The world’s 6th pilot who crossed the Atlantic by air alone.
The medical and emergency medical aid: In the Republic of Lithuania, health insurance is mandatory. It recommends keeping medical insurance for the entire duration of stay in Lithuania. In the event that medical intervention is required, the Lithuanian partner is recommended to contact the insurance company to which the policy was issued. Lithuanian officer will provide the necessary information on the structures that will provide medical services under the policy. In case of medical emergency, call: Phone: 112, 03, 103 or 033.
Conditions of road traffic and inland transport: In Lithuania, the movement of vehicles is carried out on the right side of the road. Major roads are in good condition. Fuel supply does not present particular difficulties. Authorized speeds: Highway: 130 km / h from April 1 until October 31, 110 km / h from 1 November to 31 March; Auto-route Vilnius – Kaunas: 100km / h throughout the year; National Roads: 90km / h; Towns: 50km / h. Winter tires are mandatory for the period November 1 to April 10 and prohibited in the rest of the year. Movement of vehicles with switched beam is required throughout the year.
Safety belt use is mandatory. Alcohol in blood permitted is 0.4%. Since 1 July 2007, the Lithuanian authorities have decided to introduce and to be owned toll motorway sticker for the movement in Lithuania. Vignette can be purchased for different periods: one day, weekly, monthly or yearly. Fees vary in relation to the tonnage vehicles. Useful information for committing traffic accidents: In the event of an accident, it is important to know that in Lithuania the procedure finding an amicable way to solve it is prohibited, it is recommended and it is advisable to call the police immediately after the collision which will produce necessary paperwork.
For any type of accident, the vehicles will not be moved until the police intervention. In Lithuania, the greatest caution is required while driving, because the state holds the record in terms of number of fatalities in the EU. Phone: 112 – emergency service (ambulance, fire brigade, police). Customs Regulations: It is permissible to place without paying customs duties, goods of personal use and not for commercial purposes. Quantitative limits of certain products: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, 1 liter of drinks, two liters of wine and 50 grams of perfume.
Drug regime: It prohibits the introduction on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania poisonous drugs, narcotics, psychotropic substances and their precursors. Tourists can have on their usual medications for immediate necessity. Information on emergency services / useful telephone numbers: In case of incidents that may affect the safety of person or property, it is recommended contacting the nearest police office. Useful telephone numbers: 01 – Fire department, 02 or 112 – police, + 370 5275 5:33 – Police Commissariat of Vilnius, 03 – Ambulance.
Travel Warnings: Lithuania is a country with low crime. Minor offenses such as pick pocketing, deception or theft of cars can occur in crowded areas (stations, stations, parking lots, shopping centers, gas stations or motorway service areas). It is recommended taking measures to protect ordinary general to be taken during journeys abroad: avoid busy areas of the unpopulated, group travel and rest stops for short-stay units to be made on the eve of services (gas stations, motels, bar, restaurant), car travel only by day. It is recommended to equip the vehicle with anti-theft alarm system. It is recommended that documents and personal values, travel tickets and money or bank cards are kept in safe places and not be displayed prominently on the person or machine.
In Vilnius, it is advisable at night, avoiding Užupis neighborhoods, Naujininkai and Šnipiškes. Additional Information: Using credit cards: In Lithuania, there is a well-developed strong network of ATMs. Payment cards are accepted at almost all shops, restaurants, petrol stations.
Lithuanians joined in the XII century under the leadership of Mindaugas, who became king in 1251. Through marriage, one of the leaders of Lithuania became king of Poland (Ladislaus II) in 1386 and merged the two countries. Poles and Lithuanians in 1410 defeated the mighty Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg. From the fourteenth century until the sixteenth century Poland and Lithuania have made one of the greatest empires of medieval Europe, stretching from the Black Sea almost to Moscow. Russia, Prussia and Austria divided Poland in 1772, 1792 and 1795. As a result, the last time Lithuania has reached the hands of Russia, who tried unsuccessfully to incorporate the Russian culture in Lithuania.
After the First World War and the collapse of Russia, Lithuania declared its independence under German protection. In 1940 the republic was annexed by the Soviet Union, and from 1941 until 1944 was occupied by German troops. In this time about 240,000 Hebrew were massacred. In 1944 the country was annexed by the USSR again. Lithuania’s independence movement emerged in 1988, and in 1990, the communist leader Sajudis by popular movement was elected president. The same day the Supreme Council of Lithuania declared the restoration of independence. In 2004 the country joined the European Union and NATO.
UNESCO World Heritage List included the following facilities in Lithuania: historic Old Town of Vilnius (1994), Neringa Isthmus (Courland) (2000), The archaeological site of Kernavė (2004), Struve Geodetic Arc (on the territory of Lithuania) (2005). During World War I, Lithuania is incorporated in Ober-Ost. As the war progressed, and Germany’s defeat became evident that it is forced to conclude peace with Russia. Thus, Germany is obliged to allow the Conference in Vilnius, where on 18 to 22 September 1917, met the Council of Lithuania. On 16 February 1918 adopted the Declaration of Independence of Lithuania, which is proclaimed an independent country on democratic principles.
However, the Germans still occupied Lithuania and did not accept this act, and Lithuanians, to prevent the annexation of the country in the German Empire, elected Wilhelm of Württemberg-Urach, born in Munich, who becomes King Mindaugas II. But he has never managed to claim his throne. Germany lost the war and signed on 11 November 1918 the Armistice at Compiegne. The Lithuanian government is formed first, led by Augustinas Voldemaras being adopted a provisional constitution and set up the first administrative institutions. The German army withdraws from the Eastern Front, being replaced by Soviet troops, who will spread the proletarian revolution.
It creates a series of puppet states, including the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. At the end of December 1918, the Red Army reached the borders of Lithuania and started the Soviet-Lithuanian War. On January 5, 1919 Vilnius is captured, and at the end of January, two thirds of the Lithuanian territory is occupied. In February, Soviet troops meet resistance from German and Lithuanian volunteers, who manage to appear at Kaunas, the temporary capital of the country. Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic lasted until 27 February 1919, when, by merging with the territory of Belarus (also occupied by the Soviets), built Lithuanian-Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, in turn dissolved the State on August 25, 1919 being occupied by the armies of the Entente, Poland and Lithuania which were formed: Second Polish Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
In April the Polish-Soviet war broke out, claiming parts of Poland, Lithuania, the Vilnius region in particular. In May, the Lithuanian army, led by General Silvestras Žukauskas begins offensive against the Soviets, so that at the end of August 1919 the Russians are driven out of Lithuania. Although the Soviet army was defeated, the paramilitary troops invade northern Lithuania by Russian volunteers. They were annihilated at the end of 1919. Having completed the first phase of warfare Lithuanian independence, the country could now focus their attention on domestic issues.
In April 1920 the Constituent Assembly of Lithuania is formed and its first meeting takes place next month. In June it is adopted a provisional constitution and in July signed a peace treaty with Soviet Russia, which recognizes and accepts its claims of Lithuania to Vilnius region. However the treaty intensifies hostilities between Poland and Lithuania, which is why, on 7 October 1920, ending the Suwalki Understanding. But before it enters into force, the Polish general Lucjan Żeligowski invaded Lithuania, Vilnius and captures the ephemeral Republic of Central Lithuania. League of Nations and its president, the Belgian Paul Hymans, tried to mediate the conflict, proposing the creation of a Polish-Lithuanian union.
Following a referendum, Central Lithuania is incorporated in Poland in March 1922. But the dispute does not end with the Vilnius region, maintaining the entire interwar period. Lithuania cut off all relationship with Poland and accepted its dominance over the capital region, which nevertheless had a significant Polish population. Constituent Assembly in October 1920 re-meets and initiates a series of reforms, such as obtaining international recognition of the Lithuanian state, the entry into the League of Nations, approval of land reforms, introduction of national currency “litas”, and adopted a constitution in August 1922.
Thus, Lithuania becomes a democratic state with a unicameral Parliament (Seimas), elected every three years. First Seimas was elected in October 1922, but was unable to form a government because it did not win a favorable number of votes and was forced to resign. The only notable event during this period was the Klaipėda Revolt in January 1923, by which Lithuania, profiting from the crisis in the Ruhr region, in possession of Klaipeda region, a territory detached from East Prussia by the Treaty of Versailles (June 28, 1919) and placed under French administration. In 1924, the region is comprised in Lithuania as an autonomous district, which assures its access to the Baltic Sea.
This move was the latest Insurgent armed conflict between Lithuania and the Soviet Union before the Second World War. The second parliament, elected in May 1923 was the last Seimas who exercised throughout the mandate. It continued land reform, introduced the system of social assistance and foreign debt has been re-launched. It felt substantial progress in education: when appeared the first university in Kaunas. In 1923 was carried out a national census. In May 1926 is elected the third Seimas. Accused of Soviet non-aggression pact signed by Lithuanian, which led to Bolshevization country, the Christian Democrats lost the majority to the opposition.
The coup of 17 December 1926, led by Lithuanian Nationalists Union leads to the government fall. Antanas Smetona becomes president and prime minister is Augustinas Voldemaras. Smentona remains in power until 1940. Parliament is dissolved in 1927. Shortly before the Social Democrats and other left parties have tried unsuccessfully to organize a movement against Smetona. The same failure is felt by Voldemaras which evolved independently of the president is forced to resign. He tries to return to power three times in 1930 and once in 1934. In May 1928, Smetona, without parliamentary approval, proclaims the fifth provisional constitution, which gave full powers to the President and his party, National Union of Lithuania.
Smetona assumes the title of “tauti vadas” (leader of the nation) and gradually begins to build his cult of personality. When the Nazi Party came to power in Weimar, the German-Ukrainian relations are getting worse especially because the Germans did not accept the loss of the Klaipėda region. The Nazis also financed the anti-national organizations in the country, so that in 1934 the Lithuanian State tried and convicted over 100 people accused of such activities, and among them are leaders Ernst Neumann and Theodor von Sass. In response, Germany declared embargo to Lithuanian products.
Lithuania then turns its attention to Britain, which would end with a more intense trade relation. The measure was not of popular character and peasants in the region of Suvalkija organize protests, which result in loss of the prestige of Smetona. He is forced to accept, in September 1936 elections for a new parliament, elections which were not held since 1926. But elections were not fair, all parties except the Nationalists Union, have been subjected to intimidation. For this reason, 42 of the 49 seats in the Seimas were occupied by this party.
In February 1938, was adopted a new constitution granting the new presidential prerogative power. With the Nazi annexation of Austria in March 1938, the European situation becomes tense. In the same month, Poland addressed an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding the restoration of diplomatic relations interrupted by Lucjan Żeligowski by the general insurrection of 1920 and threatening military action in case of refusal. Since military power was weak and international support, Lithuania rejected, so that relations between the two countries resumed their normal course, and transportation including rail, postal relations and other means of communication.
A year later, Lithuania gets an ultimatum from the Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop asking cede Klaipėda region to Germany. Again, Lithuania is obliged to yield, so on March 22, 1939 the port Memel (Klaipeda) goes to Germany, which triggered a strong political crisis and Smetona must form a new government, which for the first time since 1926, included members of the opposition. Loss of this region represents a substantial economic loss and Lithuania fell under the influence of Germany, which is enshrined in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939, which divided Europe into spheres of influence.
The secret clauses of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, also provided for the division of the Baltic Sea, so that Lithuania, originally taken by Germany, is transferred under the control of the Soviet Union, which is sanctioned by another Soviet-German cooperation treaty on 28 September 1939. With the invasion of Poland in 1939, Vilnius city is occupied by the Red Army. On 10 October of that year, Lithuania signed with the Soviet Union a mutual assistance treaty, through which a fifth of the Vilnius region of Lithuania is given in exchange for stationing troops in the country of 20,000 Soviet troops.
In 1940, ending the Winter War, German troops are advancing strongly threatening several countries in northern and western Europe. In this context, the Soviet Union exercised pressure on Lithuania that sent its ultimatum to culminate on June 14, 1940, urging the formation of a pro-Soviet government and that an unspecified number of troops to barracks across the country. On June 15, 1940, when 150,000 Russian troops invaded the country, Lithuania lost its independence. Smetona leaves the country over the coming year to immigrate to the US.
Soviet diplomat Vladimir Dekanozov formed a puppet government in favor of Soviet interests, called the People’s Government of Lithuania. Justas Paleckis succeeds to Smetona to the supreme state. The new government had no autonomy, only to fulfill orders from Moscow. Fourth Seimas is dissolved and new elections are held on July 14, 1940. As the only candidates were those approved by the communists, 90% of the vote resulted in favor. The new Seimas shall decide the very first meeting, held on 21 July, the country’s transformation into Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Union of the Soviet Union.
The case is approved by the Supreme Soviet and on August 3 and thus the Soviet occupation is enacted. In the period ahead, there is intense “Sovietization” of Lithuania. The whole land is nationalized, and to win the sympathy of small owners, there are distributed plots of land resulting from the confiscation of large properties. To prepare collectivization later, fees are increased to weaken the power of all farmers. The nationalization of banks, big business causes a drop in production, productivity and national currency, litas, which is withdrawn from circulation in April 1941 and replaced by the ruble. The standard of living is reduced drastically.
All organizations and cultural associations, religious and political development is prohibited, except the Communist Party and its youth branch. A total of about 12,000 people are arrested, accused of being enemies of the people. During the so-called deportations of June, about 17,000 people (mostly with senior military, police, political figures and their family members) are deported to the Gulag in Siberia, where many lost their lives due to inhumane conditions there.
On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Only encountering little resistance, the rapidly advancing German troops occupy the whole Russia. In their withdrawal, the Soviet troops massacre Lithuanian political prisoners, one of the most famous atrocities such as Massacre at Raina, where 70-80 Lithuanian political leaders are killed by the NKVD, with the support of the Red Army. For this reason, the Lithuanians, the vast majority of them considered the Germans as liberators from Soviet oppression, and hope that German troops will bring the country’s autonomy.
When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941), a part of the population of Lithuania, led by the Lithuanian Activist Front, rises up against Soviet occupation regime and the country declares independence. This movement was named June Uprising. On June 23 is proclaimed the Provisional Government of Lithuania, which was formed in secret since April 24 and included members of the Activist Front. Juozas Ambrazevičius was appointed Prime Minister. This government was short-lived, being dissolved on 5 August, because the country had come under Nazi control.
Provisional Government constituted their own police forces, organized as battalions of Darbo Tautinio called Apsaugos Batalionas. Its members, mostly nationalists and extremists have proved to be collaborators of Nazi Germany and were used for massacring Jews during the Holocaust. Another sad memory organization is Lithuanian Security Police (Saugumo policija) active in Vilnius. It has cooperated with the Nazis, helping them in various activities, even outside the country: to ensure communication lines, supervision of prisoners, supply troops.
In early 1943, the Germans tried to build from the local population a Waffen-SS unit, similar as done in other occupied countries. Encountering opposition, the Nazis retaliated against it sending a series of important people to the concentration camp at Sztutowo. General Povilas Plechavičius known ever since the Wars of Independence of Lithuania, formed Territorial Defense Force of Lithuania, composed of volunteer troops and subordinate of the Nazi. Tough policy pursued by Germany lead to an attitude of resistance caused by the population. Thus, on 25 October 1943 was established the Supreme Committee for the release of Lithuania, an organization whose objective was the country’s liberation.
Another form of resistance against Nazi occupation troops have been set up by pro-Soviet partisans. There were, in addition to the Lithuanians, Russians, Belarusian and Hebrew. These bands were particularly active in the eastern part of Lithuania and campaigned for its integration into the Soviet Union. Soviet partisans plundered villages, committing a series of atrocities, of which the best known is the massacre of Koniuchy (Kaniūkai). Before the Holocaust, Lithuania had a Hebrew number between 210,000 and 250,000. Lithuanian Holocaust consists of three stages: June-December 1941: Mass executions; 1942 – March 1943 the period of ghettos; April 1943 – July 1944: final liquidation. It is estimated at 80% as the percentage of Jews killed by 1942.
The 43,000 survivors were concentrated in ghettos in Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai, Svencionys and forced to work in support of the German military industry. On 21 June 1943, the SS leader, Heinrich Himmler has liquidation of all ghettos and sending Jews to concentration camps. Another part of the Hebrew was sent to Stutthof, Auschwitz and Dachau. From these camps were liberated only 2000-3000 Hebrew Lithuanian. Other Hebrew who survived were those who fled to Russia before the outbreak of war or have escaped from ghettos and partisan troops entered. Hebrew genocide rate in Lithuania was 95-97%, one of the largest in Europe.
This was due primarily to the close cooperation between Lithuanian and German authorities. Jews were considered mainly responsible for the spread of Soviet communism thus appearing the notion of Judeo-Bolshevism. There were also resistances to German occupation, during which many Lithuanians risked their lives to save the Hebrew. Thus, 723 persons have acquired the title of Righteous among the Nations for their efforts to this end.
On September 14, 1944, Russia launched the so-called Baltic offensive. Capitals fall in the three countries under the control of the Red Army. To avoid enrolling in it, many residents in isolated areas formed withdraw troops by partisans who will play an active role in anti-Soviet resistance. The following year, 1945, is occupied Klaipėda. With the tacit support of the US and Great Britain, the Soviets turn Lithuania to the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, a designation received on 21 July 1940, that it subsequently sanctioned by the Yalta Conference (February 4 to 11, 1945) and Potsdam Agreement (17 July – 2 August 1945).
In the period 1941 – 1952 Mass deportations occur systematically in the population in the Baltic and in the Soviet Union is forced the colonization. From Lithuania are over 100,000 displaced locals in Siberia and other regions. Against the regime were organized groups of supporters. As a means of integration into the Soviet Union to develop industry, workers are encouraged to Russian immigration. This period is evoked through the carvings of Grūtas, an existing park near Druskininkai.
Up until 1988, the entire political, economic and cultural life was governed by the Lithuanian Communist Party. Compared with the other Soviet republics, the feeling of hostility toward the communist regime was much more intense in the Baltic countries. During the reformist Gorbachev in 1988, was formed the Movement for Reform in Lithuania, “Lietuvos persitvarkymo sąjūdis (Sąjūdis)”. This calls for the country’s independence from the Soviet regime to a multiparty system and return leadership to the old national symbols of the state coat of arms and anthem. In the same year, 1988, Algirdas Brazauskas is elected first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee. On 23 August 1989 to draw international public attention, many Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians formed a giant human chain of 600 km, passing through the capitals Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius.
In December 1989, the Lithuanian Communist Party declares its independence from the CPSU and subsequently changed its name to the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party. In early 1990, was supported the reformist movement Sąjūdis; candidates won election to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet, a body that proclaims, on 11 March 1990, the country’s independence. Thus, Lithuania is the first Soviet country to be independent. Vytautas Landsbergis is president and Prime Minister Prunskienė Kazimir. On March 15, the Soviet Union calls for revocation of independence and adopts economic and political sanctions against Lithuania. It appeals to the army, which incorporates the important buildings of the capital under control.
In Vilnius, but also in other cities, there are the so-called events of January 1991, when were violent clashes between protesting masses and the military. There are negotiations between Russia and Lithuania. Vigorous reaction of Western European countries requires the President Gorbachev to sign a treaty on 31 January by which is recognized Lithuania’s independence. On February 9, 1991 in a referendum, over 90% of those who participated in the vote (and 76% of those eligible to vote) have expressed support for an independent Lithuania. During the attempted coup of 1991 in Russia, Soviet rule put a number of buildings, establishment of various governmental institutions in Vilnius and other cities.
After the failure of this action, the military forces withdraw. As a result, the Lithuanian government has condemned the Communist Party and confiscated its property. Lithuania acquired international recognition as a state and is permitted among the United Nations. As in other former Soviet countries, with the worsening economic situation (unemployment, inflation), the popularity of the movement for independence Sąjūdis enters into a process of decline. As a consequence, the 1992 parliamentary elections, the Communist Party, renamed the Democratic Labor Party (Lietuvos Darbo demokratinė partija or LDDP), wins the most votes. The party continues the policy of reconstruction of a democratic state, it moves from a strictly centralized economy to a market economy.
Between 1993 and 1998, the first elected President is Brazauskas. The next parliamentary election in 1996, led by Vytautas Landsbergis, emerges victorious again. To achieve the transition to a market economy, Lithuania organized an intense campaign to privatize state-owned enterprises. In August 1991, to combat inflation, instead of the ruble, is introduced temporary the currency “talonas” and two years later it was replaced with the traditional currency “litas”.11