1914-1918 1922-1926

On the Left :
Lithuanian Stamp issued in 1930, showing a map, claiming Vilnius region

On the Right :
Stamp issued for Central Lithuania, onscription in Polish

Lithuania, 1918-1922

While U.S. president Wilson's 14 points were the accepted general policy on the territory of the defeated Empires (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire) and clandestinely also - the Soviets and Russian whites excluded - accepted practice in the western parts of the disintegrating Russian Empire, the questions of the constitution and of the borders were unanswered.
Compared with other newly established nation-states in eastern central Europe, Lithuania lacked the protection of a victorious power - Poland enjoyed the sympathy of France, Britain, the States, Latvia and Estonia British support; Lithuania was perceived as a German creation. ANTANAS SMETONA, chairman of the COUNCIL OF LITHUANIA, was an advocate of a policy leaning on Germany. In 1919 Lithuania became a REPUBLIC and he was elected the first president; in 1920 he was succeeded by ALEKSANDRAS STULGINSKIS

Early in 1919 the situation was rather complicated. German military units were still in the area; the Red Army pushed towars Kaunas. A Polish militia seized control of VILNIUS (Jan. 1st), Lithuania's capital, demanding the annexion to Poland. The Lithuanian TARYBA, for the time being, settled down in KAUNAS.
The Red Army was defeated by the Poles in 1920; Polish troops occupied a stretch of territory, including Vilnius, which was claimed by the Lithuanians; the territory had a separate, pro-Polish admninistration and was called CENTRAL LITHUANIA; in 1922 it was annexed by Poland. In 1921 Lithuania joined the LEAGUE OF NATIONS.

The young Lithuanian republic had lost what it regarded it's capital. Lithuania only in 1938 recognised the annexion of Vilnius and 'Central Lithuania' to Poland. Now, Kaunas was the country's new capital.

Philip J. Strollo, League of Nations Timeline
DOCUMENTS List of Presidents etc. of Lithuania, from World Rulers by Ben Cahoon
Banknotes of Lithuania, from cgb.fr, a commercial site
Stamps of Central Lithuania, from Polish Money Page
Act of Independence of Lithuania (February 16, 1918), from Lithuanian Home Page, photos of those who signed act, of act itself (hardly legible)
REFERENCE David G. Kirby, The Baltic World 1772-1993, London : Longman 1995
Manfred Hellmann, Grundzüge der Geschichte Litauens (Main Features of Lithuania's History), Darmstadt : Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1976 (in German)
Article : Lithuania, in : New International Year Book 1918 p.378, 1919 p.384, 1920 pp.404-406, 1921 pp.427-428 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on March 14th 2007

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