About the history of occupied Lithuania

This article is the next one, following The Kaunas Ninth Fort and Memorial, so I’m going to tell you the war history of Lithuania in a simplified way. A Baltic country that’s been through some tough times.

To place yourself in context, you should know that the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius was located on the territory of Poland, Russia and itself. Lithuania was one of the most important centres of Jewish culture from the 16th to the middle of the 20th century.

On February 16, 1918, Lithuania declared their independence and was re-established as a democratic state. But at the end of that same year, the Red Army returns to the country and the Lithuanian–Soviet War began. It was during this war that the Soviet Union intended to establish the Soviet republic with the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia) as well as Ukraine, Belarus and Poland. A peace treaty is signed between two parts (Lithuanians and Soviets) and Germany, then the Soviets recognize the country’s independence.

From 1918 to 1940, Lithuania and Poland did not maintain good relations, Vilnius being the capital and populated mainly by Polish, Kaunas became the capital of Lithuania during this period, that’s why Kaunas is a big city and rich in history. The Soviets will restore the city of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, in 1940.

Laisvės Alėja (literally Liberty Boulevard or Liberty Avenue) in Kaunas

A photo of the bullet-riddled wall of the 9th fort in Kaunas.

In June 1941, Nazi Germany launched a surprise attic against the Soviet Union and conquered the Baltic States in a matter of weeks. In the meanwhile, the Christians of Lithuania welcomed the Nazis as liberators, but the situation turned around and during the 3 years of German occupation, about 200,000 Jews, or almost 95% of the Jewish population of Lithuania, were decimated until 1944.

In 1944, the Soviets and Polish Resistance fighters liberated Vilnius from Nazi occupation. The country becomes Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. During the occupation of the Soviet Union, Lithuanian Jews, citizen and political prisoners were massacred or sent to the gulag in Siberia.

The train of deportees to the gulag in Siberia

The 600km human chain from Vilnius-Tallinn

The occupation of the Soviet Union lasted until 1990, Lithuania was controlled by the Soviet Union for almost 50 years. On August 23, 1989 roughly two million people from 3 countries Baltics joined hands the Vilnius-Tallinn road in protest against illegal Soviet occupation. On March 11, 1990, Vytautas Landsbergis to declare independence, which was recognized by Russia sometime later.

During the various occupations, Lithuanians followed the Nazis and the Soviets in exterminating the Jewish people following the concept of the Holocaust. In both occupations, between 1939 and 1959, nearly 1,200,000 people (Jews and Lithuanians) died

Lithuania joined NATO in April 2004, then the European Union on 1 May 2004 and has now been in the eurozone for 5 years.

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