Lithuania a Democratic Republic, 1922-1926

In 1922 a CONSTITUTION was passed, which defined Lithuania as a democratic republic. By 1922, Lithuania had received recognition from most governments, including the League of Nations (1922).
In 1922 Lithuania introduced a new currency (1 Litas = 100 Centai), replacing the Auksinas (= 100 Skatiku), ending the inflation which. if compared to Germany, had reached moderate proportions.
Vilnius and the southeast ('Central Lithuania') were lost. Yet there was another contested region, the MEMELLAND, (Klaipeda) formerly part of Prussia/Germany, but placed under French administration until a plebiscite would decide over the area's future (with Germany or Lithuania). When in 1923 Germany itself was focussed on the Rhineland (occupied by the French), on coups d'etat and on hyperinflation, Lithuanian troops occupied the Memelland; in 1924 Lithuania annexed the area, without holding the plebiscite. There was little protest from the side of the Entente.

Lithuania's SEIMAS (parliament) fell in several groupings, the Christian Democrats, the Socialists and the Parties/Representatives of national minorities (Jews, Poles, Germans). The two main camps - Christian Democrats and Socialists - again consisted of a number of rivalling parties.
A major reform conducted was the LAND REFORM, which broke up old noble estates and increased the number of small farms.
Economic difficulties as well as internal political strife among democratic parties caused widespread dissatisfaction. On Dec. 17th 1926 politicians of the small TAUTININKAI PARTY seized control of government in a coup d'etat, declared martial law and forbade any political activity of parties.
In 1925 Lithuania introduced registration of motor vehicles (the Russian Empire had done so in 1910).

On the Left : German/French stamps overprinted for use in the Memel region (Klaipeda), separated from Germany in 1918 and placed under French administration until a plebiscite be held.
On the Right : After the occupation by Lithuania in 1923, stamps were overprinted/issued for the Klaipeda (Memel) region.

History of Lithuania, from Scantours
History of Lithuania, from Ramunas' Personal Pages
DOCUMENTS List of Presidents etc. of Lithuania, from World Rulers by Ben Cahoon
Memel banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
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) [G]
Article Lithuania, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1924 pp.1086-1091, 1925 pp.1095-1100, 1926 pp.1061-1066 [G]
Article : Lithuania, in : New International Year Book 1923 pp.431-432, 1925 pp.396-397 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on August 24th 2007

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