1938-1945 since 1991

Lithuania 1945-1991

In 1944/1945, the Soviet Red Army expelled German forces from Lithuania. Soviet sources describe the event as the liberation of the country; many Lithuanians regarded it one occupant replacing another. The pre-annexation Republic of Lithuania continued to exist in exile, using her Washington and London embassies, until 1991. Yet neither the U.S. nor the British government openly challenged Lithuania being a Soviet Republic.
In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, partisans, called the Forest Brothers, who had fought the Germans now fought Soviet occupants and Lithuanian collaborators. The resistance ebbed down in intensity when their leader, A. Ramanauskas, was arrested and killed in 1956; the disillusionment of the partisans with the failure of the west in coming to the aid of the Hungarian rebels also may have played a role. The last Lithuanian orest Brother is said to have given up the fight in 1971.
The collectivization of farmland (1949-1952), was unpopular and caused both a decline in agricultural production and the acceleration of the process of urbanization. The Stalinist regime tried to break the resistance by mass deportations, the total number of whom is given as being between 120,000 and 300,000; simultaneously, the country experienced an influx of Russians, Ukrainians etc. who took up residence in the country. The Lithuanian ASSR reannexed the Memelland (Klaipeda) and maintained the Vilnius Territory, annexed from Poland in 1939. Vilnius became the capital of the Lithuanian ASSR. A large number of Poles was expelled in the years immediately following the end of the war, in accordance with a population exchange agreement Stalin made with Communist Poland. Vilnius Airport (now Vilnius International Airport) was opened in 1944. The port of Klaipeda (Memel) was rebuilt, and its traffic sharply increased in the early 1950es. The city attracted immigrants, her population composed of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Lithuanians.

The First Secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party, Antanas J. Snieckus, in the late 1950es rejected an offer by Khrushchev to integrate the Kaliningrad Oblast into the Lithuanian SSR; if implemented, it would have greatly affected the ethnic composition of the population of Lithuania.

TV broadcasting began in 1957.
Lithuanian basketball, at a high level before Soviet annexation, was promoted during Soviet times.

When the Soviet Union underwent political liberalization under Mkhail Gorbachev in the 1980es, the Sajudis Movement was formed in Lithuania. It aimed at democratization, and declared the 1940 annexation as invalid, thus Lithuania being independent and the declaration of independence being unnecessary. In 1989 the Communist Party declared no longer to be part of the Communist Party of the USSR, and in 1990 took on the name Liberal Democratic Party. Following elections in March 1990, Restitution of Independence was declared. In January 1991 Soviet forces occupied/surrounded a number of government buildings in Vilnius. They were under orders to act with restraint. A plebiscite in February voted overwhelmingly for independence. Russia (the Yeltsin administration) recognized Lithuanian independence in September 1991; Iceland was the first nation outside the Soviet Union to recognize the Lithuanian independence (Feb. 1991). The USSR dissolved in late December 1991.

Review of R.J. Krickus, The Kaliningrad Question, posted by Canadian Slavonic Papers
History of Lithuania in the Soviet Union, 1944-1991, from Wikipedia
Article Forest Brothers in Lithuania, from Wikipedia
Country Studies, Lithuania, from Library of Congress
Article Sport in Lithuania, from Wikipedia
History, from Lithuanian Ministry of Transport and Communications
Article Vilnius International Airport, from Wikipedia
History of Vilnius, from Wikipedia
History of Klaipeda since 1945, from Wikipedia
History of Kaunas, from Wikipedia
Article Economy of Lithuania, from Wikipedia
DOCUMENTS Lithuanian SSR, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Republic of Lithuania in Exile, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Resistance to German and Soviet Occupation, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
REFERENCE Frederic Harned, Lithuania and the Lithuanians, pp.118-140 in : Zev Katz et al. (ed.), Handbook of Major Soviet Nationalities, NY : The Free Press 1975 [G]
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)
The Fifteen Soviet Republics, pp.63-78 in : John Gunther, Meet Soviet Russia, I : Land, People, Sights, NY : Harper & Bros. 1962 [G]
Article : Lithuania, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1945 p.412, 1946 pp.444-445, 1947 pp.464-465, 1948 pp.447-448, 1949 pp.395-396, 1950 p.419, 1951 p.429, 1952 p.428, 1953 p.424, 1954 p.428, 1955 p.471, 1956 pp.408-409, 1957 p.470, 1958 p.411, 1959 p.405, 1960 pp.398-399 [G]
Article : USSR : Lithuania, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1970-1971 pp.1433-1435, 1975-1976 pp.1438-1439, 1976-1977 pp.1436-1437, 1978-1979 pp.1256-1257, 1979-1980 pp.1265-1266, 1980-1981 pp.1261-1263, 1981-1982 pp.1269-1270, 1983-1984 pp.1265-1267, 1984-1985 pp.1263-1264, 1985-1986 pp.1264-1265, 1986-1987 pp.1263-1264, 1987-1988 pp.1266-1268, 1989-1990 pp.1276-1278, 1990-1991 pp.1279-1281, 1991-1992 pp.1279-1281 [G]
Article : Lithuania, in : Americana Annual 1947 p.418, 1957 pp.460-461, 1961 pp.432-433, 1962 pp.441-442, 1963 pp.397-398, 1964 p.394 [G]
David Kirby, The Baltic States 1940-1950, pp.22-39 in : Martin McCauley (ed.), Communist Power in Europe 1944-1949, London : MacMillan 1977 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 24th 2006, last revised on November 25th 2009

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