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Republic Of Lithuania
LITHUANIA Lithuania is on the whole a low-lying country watered by the Niemen (" Niemunas "- name of a heathen deity) and its tributaries. The highest part is in the south and east, where the Baltic hills extend in crescent formation from Gumbinnen in East Prussia through Suvalki (Suwalki) and Vilna to Dvinsk. This chain of hills is broken by two valleys, that of the Niemen flowing through Grodno and Olita to Kovno, that of the Vilya, flowing from Vilna to Janov to its junction with the Niemen below Kovno. In the north-west is situated another triangle of hills, the TelshiShavli-Rossieni. Between these two hilly regions lies the plain of the Niemen with its two principal tributaries, the Niaviaza and the Dubissa flowing in from the north. The only other river of importance is the Svienta, flowing south-west to join the Vilya near Janov, and in the north the Muscha, which joins the Aa at Bausk in Latvia.
For early history see Lithuanians And Letts (16.789), also Poland (21.902). The union between the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania was brought about on Feb. 14 1386 by the marriage of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila (Jagello) to the Polish Queen Jadviga and confirmed by the subsequent pacts of Vilna in 1401 and 1432, of Horodlo in 1413, of Grodno in 1501 and 1512 and, parliamentarily, of Lublin in 1569. Thus was established a political combination in which Lithuania in point of territory was three times the size of Poland. The contracting parties were to retain their names, laws, administrative institutions, financial and military organizations. Through the fact, however, that from 1501 onwards the Lithuanians and the Poles were ruled over by one sovereign and from 1569 onwards had a common legislature, the former, though ever anxious to break away, gradually sank into a state of dependence. The Poles, past-masters in the art of political intrigue, never lost an opportunity of imposing their hegemony. Accordingly the Dual State was involved in a common downfall, and in the three partitions of 1772, 1792 and 1795 to which it was subjected at the hands of Russia, Prussia and Austria, Lithuania fell a prey to Russia and Prussia. But, while the Tsarist regime, unable to denationalize a homogeneous population of a different religion and language, initially conceded a minimum of rights to the Polish nation, in Lithuania proper from the outset an unrelenting system of tyranny was established which was designed to break by force every non-Russian element in the country.
Russia had annexed the six Lithuanian Governments between 1772 and 1795 and united them as the" Litovskaya Gubernia "in 1797, that is to say, before the Treaty of Vienna conceded her the kingdom of Poland in 1815. At the Warsaw Diet of 1818, the liberal-minded Alexander I. still spoke of the reunion of Lithuania with Poland under constitutional forms. But the project lapsed because already then any measure of self-government by extending the power of the Polish" szlachta "(land-owning noble class) in Lithuania menaced Russia's influence in that country which strategically rounded off her north-western frontier. Yet, under the influence of the Polish Prince Adam Czartoryski, Alexander I. encouraged education and enterprise. The cultural influence of Vilna University produced the poet Mickiewicz and others.
In the closing years of Alexander's reign events in Poland cast their shadow before them, and in answer to political conspiracies Novosiltsov, formerly adviser to the Grand Duke Constantine as governor of Poland, upon his transfer to Lithuania initiated the persecution of liberal thought. Under the new Tsar, Nicholas I., the plan of the reunion of the two states was definitely rejected, his ukase of 1839 making of Lithuania the" Sievero-Zapadny Krai "(North-western Province) .
As a result of the Polish rebellion of 1830, in which the peasantry, whether Lithuanian, Polish or White Russian, did not take so great a part as the upper classes, the university of Vilna was abolished in 1832, its faculties being transferred in bulk to Kiev and in part to Kharkov and St. Petersburg; Catholic and Uniate Church property sequestrated from 1836 onwards; the Lithuanian Statute, which had remained the law of the land through four centuries of union with Poland, replaced by the Russian code in 1840, while prominent natives, debarred from public service in their own country, were forced to emigrate or exiled to Siberia. Even the reign of Alexander II. bringing no changes in Lithuania and only slight modifications in the kingdom of Poland, the revolutionary spirit led to the great rebellion of 1863.
This abortive insurrection in which the Polish nobility and intelligentsia were primarily involved, though the Lithuanians also took a prominent part, led to the suppression of the printing of Lithuanian books by the dictator Gen. Muraviov, which measure was only abolished in 1904.
The Tsarist policy was henceforth perfectly consistent in that it strove to make Lithuania a genuine part of Russia and sought to extirpate Polish culture beyond the frontiers of the kingdom. Under these circumstances began in 1864 the great persecution of the" croyance Polonaise,"as the Catholic faith was called. However fiercely conducted, it failed, though the Uniate Church with slighter powers of resistance was now completely forced into Orthodoxy, its ceremonial being definitely forbidden and its monasteries dissolved. The attack upon Polish property by the edict of 1865, though never fully applied, prevented the increase of Polish-owned estates for 40 years. The additional taxation of 5% on all incomes derived from land, imposed in 1869 and not repealed until the reign of Nicholas II., together with the suppression of the Polish language in all official matters, served the same ends. By way of reprisal land was taken from Polish owners and given to Russians, and settlements were established for colonization purposes - a measure of this kind taking place as late as 1913 - so that proportionately more convicts and political exiles were sent into Lithuania than even into Siberia. The abolition of serfdom without cancellation of the peasants' prerogatives as to pasturage and timber rights served to accentuate classantagonism. Further, Lithuania was specially excluded from the Zemstvo system which was introduced into Russia in 1864.
An early expression of reviving Lithuanian national consciousness was the appearance of the newspaper" Ausra,"which, printed in East Prussia, lived for three years, though even in that short period its editor, banished from Germany, had to take refuge at Prague. It was socially significant that he and his political collaborators were drawn of the stock of newly emancipated peasants.
In Prussian Lithuania a craftier policy allowed greater outward liberty, though the process of German colonization, seconded by persecution, restricted the Lithuanian language which was once dominant in East Prussia to barely five districts (Tilsit 38%, Heydekrug 61.9%, Memel 47.1%, Ragnit 27%, Labiau 30%).
Period of Popular Representation, 1905-14. - Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War and the revolution which followed in its wake led, in Sept. 1905, to a measure of reform in the Russian system of government in Lithuania. The first National Lithuanian Assembly, which, however, in the eyes of the Tsar's Government was merely a revolutionary body tolerated for the time being, met at Vilnius (Vilna). It consisted of two thousand delegates who demanded autonomy for the four governments of Vilna, Kovno, Grodno and Suvalki under a Diet at Vilna to be elected by universal, direct, equal and secret franchise. It was the first modern attempt to define Lithuania ethnographically, to respect national minorities and continue the connexion with Russia upon the federative principle.
The Tsar's Government under the electoral statute of 1905 granted the four-class franchise (landowners, peasants, townsmen and workmen) in such wise as to favour the rural population. Only Poles were elected to the first Duma in 1906.
As the imperial ukase which followed the dissolution of the second Duma in 1907 conferred more power upon the great landowners, it was modified as regards Lithuania by a nationality clause which provided that the total of electors of each class should be in proportion to the amount of land possessed by the respective nationalities in the district. This measure, applied by Russian officials, was designed against the Poles and the Lithuanian Nationalists alike, for not even the Progressives who favoured autonomy for Poland contemplated its grant to Lithuania. In the third Duma the five delegates allotted to the non-Russian population of Vilna government were all Poles who joined the Polish party; in Kovno government three delegates were Lithuanians, one was a Pole and one a Jew.
War Period, 1914-20
The outbreak of the World War in 1914 led to a German invasion which, from midsummer 1915 until Aug. 1919, lay heavily upon the land, which was ruthlessly exploited. To further their own purpose, which was the lasting hold over Lithuania, the Germans after the military collapse of Russia allowed the phantom existence of a State. While a Lithuanian conference met at Vilna (Sept. 18-23 1917), and, in negotiations which dragged until March 1918, petitioned the then German Chancellor, Count Hertling, for the restoration of the country's independence under condition of a perpetual alliance between it and the German Empire (" Bundesverhaltnis "), the German clerical party caused the" Taryba,"or Council of State, which was then unavoidably still largely under the control of their army of occupation authorities, to offer the Lithuanian crown to Prince William of Urach, a younger member of the Wurttemberg reigning family. On July 11 1918 he accepted under the title of" Mindove II., King of Lithuania,"thus strangely choosing the style of a heathen prince of the 13th century who fiercely resisted the Teutonic order.
While the opposition of the German annexationists thwarted this candidature which the Council of State eventually cancelled (Nov. 2 1918), their delegates at the peace negotiations of Brest Litovsk, in March 1918, on the contrary upheld against Trotsky the authority of the Lithuanian Council of State despite the fact that they had previously refused to regard it as the" legal representative of Lithuania."Their last argument rested upon this, that" Germany had recognized Lithuania's independence only on the condition that the conventions to be concluded, among them, of course, the form of constitution and the choice of a ruler, shall correspond to German interests "(Nordd. Allgent. Zeitung, Aug. 1918).
By Nov. 1918, the magnitude of Germany's defeat being no longer in doubt, the Taryba, or Council of State, promulgated a provisional constitution under which it became the Lithuanian Parliament. The supreme power was vested in three persons, A. Smetona, J. Staugaitis, and St. Silingas, who on Nov. 5 1918 invited Prof. Voldemar to form the first independent administration on non-party lines and reach an understanding with the national minorities resident within the still indeterminate frontiers, viz. White Russians, Poles, Jews and Great Russians. Alone the Pan-Polish party reverted irreconcilably to the historic solution of union or federation with Poland. The initial difficulties of setting up an administrative machine on national lines were the greater as the troops of the occupying Power, affected by the revolution which had broken out in Germany, engaged in pillage and highway robbery, which a national militia as yet barely armed had to suppress. The German troops were to a large extent composed of men who had been on the eastern front for some time, who had never themselves suffered defeat by the Allies, and were therefore indisposed to admit themselves beaten. They behaved in the most high-handed, brutal and truculent manner. Although Kovno itself was evacuated in June 1919, and shortly afterwards southern and eastern Lithuania, the area Mitau - Shavli - Taurogen remained in their hands until Dec. 13 of that year. In their withdrawal, by a historic disregard of fair play, the Germans not merely refused to put at the disposal of the Lithuanian authorities the necessary means of defence, but under a military convention allowed the Bolshevist troops to march into evacuated zones at a mean distance of io kilometres. They were by this procedure, moreover, directly violating the terms of the Armistice concluded with the Entente Powers on Nov. 11 1918. Thus in lieu of the German appeared the Bolshevist menace.
The Voldemar administration resigned on Dec. 26 1918, the new premier, M. Slezevicius, widening the Cabinet on coalition lines. Prof. Voldemar, whom the precarious situation of the country and the approaching Peace Conference called to Paris, served as Foreign Minister, M. Was as Finance Minister, M. Velykis as Minister of War. In Jan. 1919 the near approach of the Bolsheviks to Vilna caused the removal of the Government to Kovno. Owing to this menace of the enemy and disputes over very urgent questions the Provisional National Assembly was elected with difficulty, but in session at Kaunas (Kovno) from Jan. 16-23 1919 it recognized the Council of State (" Taryba ") and the Slezevicius Cabinet as the regular Government of Lithuania, which had the confidence of the country. Thereupon, although large stretches of territory were still in enemy occupation, the Taryba voted the provisional constitution, elected A. S netona President of the State, and composed the statute for the election of the Constituent Assembly by universal, equal, direct and secret franchise according to a proportional system based on d'Hondt's distributive principle which contains elaborate safeguards against the tyranny of the majority. Despite the most painful conditions, national defence began to be organized at first in the form of volunteers and afterwards by regular troops. Under these circumstances the Bolshevist advance reached its culminating point in May 1919, when the Soviet armies occupied Telshi and Shavli in the north and Olita in the south, thus threatening Kovno itself. Until Sept. 1919 fighting took place against the Bolshevist forces, which were successfully cleared out of the northern districts of the country, and until Dec. of that year against the so-called Bernonit troops, and sporadically all through 1920 against Polish units. The Constituent Assembly, or" Seimas,"composed of 112 members, met on May 15 1920. The President of the State, the National Council and the Cabinet resigned, and, all power passing to the assembly, the provisional Government gave way to the permanent Government.
Meanwhile the Polish Government's proposal for joint action against the Bolsheviks was rejected pending Lithuania's recognition as an independent state with Vilna for its capital. The state of war with Soviet Russia, however, continued until the Peace Treaty of July 12 1920, whereunder the Lithuanian claim to Vilna and Grodno was recognized by the Bolsheviks and Lithuania received three million rubles in gold and 100,000 hectares of forest land for exploitation.
The Polish war against Soviet Russia continued. The initial victories of the Bolsheviks were followed by defeat and the victorious Poles, under the so-calle I" rebel "Gen. Zeligowski, on Oct. 9 1920 drove the Lithuanians out of Vilna, which they had temporarily occupied after the retreat of the Soviet armies.
This incident leading to an infor nal war between the Lithuanians and Gen. Zeligowski's so-called mutineers, the matter was taken up by the League of Nations, which strove to establish the fate of Vilna and other dispute I areas by means of a plebis:ite. An armistice was concluded with effect from Nov. 30 1920.
In the beginning of March 1921, direct negotiation between Poland and Lithuania under the aus p ices of the League of Nations, to be followed by arbitration on unsettled points, was proposed in lieu of the plebiscite and agreed to by all parties.
The independence of Lithuania de facto was recognized by Sweden, Norway, England, Esthonia, Finland, France and Poland; de jure by Germany on March 23 1918, by Soviet Russia on July 12 1920, by Latvia and Esthonia in Feb. 1921 and by the Argentine Republic in March 1921.
The provisional constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly on June 2 1920 describes the State of Lithuania as a democratic republic, over which, until the final constitution is established, the president of the Con stituent Assembly (A. Stulginskis) rules as temporary President, whose acts need to be countersigned by the premier.
Territorial Possessions. - Ethnographical Lithuania (approximately as defined in the Soviet Peace Treaty of July 12 1920) includes: (t) The whole of the former Russian province of Kovno (20,260 sq. km. and 1,857,000 inhabitants); (2) The province of Vilna, minus the districts of Disna and Vileika (29,818 sq. km. and 1,538,000 inhabitants); (3) Part of the province of Grodno north of the Niemen river and the narrow hinterland of Grodno city in the south (say 2,000 sq. km. and about too,000 inhabitants); (4) The province of Suvalki, minus the southern parts of the districts of Suvalki and Augustovo (Augustow) (to,000 sq. km. and 655,800 inhabitants) (5) Parts of the former province of Courland between the old German frontier and the Holy Aa river, as also part of the district of Illuxt.
Including the Memel area, to which the people aspire as an outlet to the sea, it may be said that 4,295,000 souls inhabit ethnographical Lithuania. Of these only 1,844,000 residents of Kovno are fully under State control plus from 33 to 50% of the 615,000 persons inhabiting Suvalki province.
The remainder of the Suvalki population is under Polish governance, as also nearly the whole of the 1,471,000 persons inhabiting Vilna province and the 139,000 inhabiting Grodno province. In the Memel area 565,000 persons are under temporary French occupation; in the Polangen district 3,000 under Lettish governance. In the disputed Illuxt area 53,000 persons are also under Lettish rule. Thus not less than 1,143,500 subjects, or just one-half of the total, are temporarily or permanently not under the jurisdiction of the Lithuanian State.
Religion and Education
In the Vilna. Kovno and Suvalki provinces Roman Catholics make up 75.2% of the population, Jews 12.5%, Orthodox 8.9% and Protestants and Calvinists 3.5%. Elementary school education (4 years' teaching) is not yet compulsory. There is a higher training course, but as yet no university. Secondary schools are few, one foreign language being compulsory. The official language being Lithuanian, Russian is almost universally understood. Polish, Yiddish and German are widely spoken.
In the provinces of Vilna, Kovno and Suvalki 71.4% of the population belong to the rural class, industry and commerce absorbing 12.8%. Of the 82,000 sq. km. in question before the war 40% belonged to the large estate owners, to % to the Government and the churches, 50% to the farmers. Of the last-named class 30% owned less than 3 hectares, 60% from 10-50 hectares, 3% from 3-to hectares, 5% from 50-100 hectares, while 17% of all the villagers were landless. An agricultural reform initiated by the provisional Government aims at the distribution of the fallow lands of the large estates and the better exploitation of the land.
Lithuania is essentially an agricultural country in which the soil is richest in the old Kovno Government. north of Suvalki and north-west of Vilna. Grain of all kinds (chiefly rye), clover and potatoes are grown. Flax is mainly grown in the northern districts of Kiejdani, Shavli, Ponevyez and Rakishki.
In 1920 the territory administered by the Lithuanian Government (5,200,000 hectares out of 8,500,000 hectares) yielded As regards live-stock raising there were in 1920 in the same area: Forests. - Twenty-five per cent of the whole extent of Lithuanian territory is covered by forests, 80% of which consist of needle-bearing and 20% of leaf-bearing trees. The country is thickly wooded (the areas under timber comprising some 25.5% of the whole against 35% fifty years ago). The most heavily wooded districts are in the southern and eastern parts (fir, pine, birch, aspen, alder and oak). Sixty per cent of the present output of timber being needed for internal consumption, about 200,000 festmetres are available annually for export. Coal has not been found, but peat may be exploited under favourable economic conditions.
In 1913 there were 5,140 industrial establishments in Lithuania with 33,000 workmen and a yearly productive value of 62 million Russian (gold) rubles. During the war the larger industrial establishments were destroyed.
Exports and Imports
In 1920 were exported farm products, live stock, fowls, timber and flax valued at 501,797,000 marks, and imported foreign products and machines at 428,728,000 marks.
Lithuania requires primarily manufactured fertilizers and agricultural machinery and salt, sugar, herrings, manufactured articles, etc.
The towns in order of importance are in political Lithuania: Kovno (Kaunas) with about 60,000 inhabitants, Ponevyez with 20,000, Shavli (Siauliai) with 8,146, Vilkomierz with 8,000. The ethnographical claim in its extreme form would include Vilna (Vilnius) with about 170,000 inhabitants, Grodno (Gardinas) with 61,000, Memel (Klaipeda) with 32,000, Suvalki with 31,600.
The only first-class roads are: Kovno-VilkomierzDvinsk; Kovno-Mariampol-Suvalki; Mitau-Shavli-Tilsit. Roads were purposely neglected under the Russian regime in the frontier area, Kovno itself being then a first-class fortress.
The lines which existed under the old Russian Empire were converted by the Germans during their occupation from Russian 5-ft. gauge to German 4 ft. 81 in. The total length is 720 kilometres.
Double lines are: Wirballen-Kovno-Koszedari; Janov-Shavli; Koszedari-Jewie (to Vilna). Single lines are: Koszedari-JanovShavli-Murajevo-Lusha (to Mitau); Radzivilishki-Ponevez-Jalovka-Kalkuni (which joins the Vilna-Dvinsk double line at Kalkuni); Murajevo (Musheiki)-Ringen (to Mitau with ballasted track for second line); Suvalki-Pinsk-Olita-Daugi (to Orani), which joins a double line at Orani. The following new single lines totalling 288 km. were built by the Germans during their occupation: ShavliPozeruni (to Tilsit); Shavli-Meiten (to Mitau); Memel-BajohrenSkudi (to Prekuln and Mitau).
The length of the Niemen from Olita to the German frontier (village of Polejki) is 266 kilometres. The river, which is navigable for 8 months in the year, has been internationalized under the Treaty of Versailles as far as Grodno (extreme point for steamer navigation). Its width varies from 75 to 325 yd. as far as Kovno and thence to the Baltic from 185 to 650 yards. Its average depth is 3 ft. and its average speed of current 21 m. per hour. The Vilya is navigable front its mouth at Kovno to Janov (40 kilometres). The Niaviaza is navigable from its mouth, northwest of Kovno, to Bobri (25 kilometres).
Currency, Weights and Measures
Alone among the Baltic states Lithuania had as yet no national currency in 1921. Legal tender were the "Ostmark" (originally introduced by the German Military Administration of the Army of Occupation, "Militdrisches Verwaltungsgebiet Ober-Ost"), which in Lithuania proper ranked pari passu with the German "Reichsmark," and other German fiduciary currency to a total not less than one milliard marks.
The weights and measures were still Russian, but the introduction of the metric system was contemplated in 1921.
In all cases where special enactments had not yet been made the laws of the former Russian Empire were considered valid. Political Parties. - The Seim (Constituent Assembly) in existence in 1921 was elected in April 1920 by universal, direct, equal and secret franchise. All men and women who were 21 years of age and all soldiers who were 18 years of age were entitled to vote. The Seim comprised 112 members, of whom 59 were Christian Democrats, 29 Popular Socialists, 14 Social Democrats, 6 Jewish party, 3 Polish party and 1 German party. The Peasants' party combined with the Popular Socialist party, while the "Workers' Federation" and the "Yeomen's Union" (these being but the small landowners) formed part of the Christian Socialist governing bloc. Legally recognized parties which were not represented in the Seim were: (a) the Progressive party (Pajanga); (b) the Liberal party (known as the Santara Union); (c) " Landlords' Association" (which comprised only large landed proprietors). The Social Revolutionary and the Communist parties were not legally recognized and were unrepresented. The president was chosen by the governing party, the Christian Democrats; the first vice-president by the Popular Socialists; the second vice-president by the Christian Democrats.
The Government which took office in June 1920 was a coalition Cabinet of the Christian Democrat and Popular Socialist parties plus three ministers who did not belong to any party. The Opposition was formed of the Social Democrat and the Polish parties. The prime minister was Dr. K. Grinius (Peasants' Union); Minister of Finance, Trade and Commerce and Communications, E. Galvanauskas (non-party); of Foreign Affairs, Dr. J. Purizkis (Christian Democrat); of War, Dr. Shimkus (Popular Socialist); of the Interior, K. Skipitis (Santara); of Education, K. Bizauskas (Christian Democrat); of Justice, V. Karobis (non-party); for Jewish Affairs, M. Soloveicik (Democrat); for White Russian Affairs, D. Siemasko (non-party); and of the department of Agriculture, Alexa (Popular Socialist).
The serious disadvantage under which the Lithuanian army suffers is the shortage of the officer class, but the sturdy, phlegmatic peasants should, under good leadership, make good fighting material. The army in 1921 was organized in 4 divisions, each division normally containing 3 regiments of infantry, 3 field batteries and .1 squadron of cavalry. The total number of units were, in the infantry, 28 regular battalions, I reserve battalion and 3 battalions of Frontier Guards; in the cavalry some 8 squadrons; in the artillery 9 field batteries; in the engineers 1 electro-technical and 1 auto battalion, a pioneer company and a railway operating company plus an aviation corps, or a total of about 1,200 officers and 35,000 men. This was the maximum expansion possible under the conditions prevailing in 1920 -I, of a crisis in the political relations with Poland; but the maintenance of this establishment for any length of time appeared to be impracticable, since on this basis the army absorbed close on 60% of the revenue of the State, viz. some 460 million German marks.
The climate of Lithuania is, on the whole, more moderate than that of other parts of Russia in the same latitude. Winter sets in normally at the end of Nov. and lasts till the end of March. The rivers are frozen from Dec. to Feb. Spring begins at the end of March. June, July and Aug. are considered the summer months. Autumn begins in Sept., light frosts occurring at its close.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Joseph Ehret, La Lithuanie (1919, also in German); L. Gaigalat, Litauen (1917, also in French); Victor Jungfer, Kulturbilder aus Litauen (1918); A. Jusaitis, The History of the Lithuanian Nation (1918); Etat Economique de la Lithuanie (1919); P. Klimas, Lietuva, j os gyventojai it sienos (1917); P. Klimas, Le Developpenzent de l'Etat Lithuanien (1919, also in German); T. Norus and J. Zilius Norus, Lithuania's Case for Independence (1918); Mgr. C. Propolanis, L'Eglise Polonaise en Lithuanie (1914); Albinas Rimka, Lietuvos ukis pries didji kara (1918); Russian Poland, Lithuania and White Russia, Handbook No. 44 prepared under the direction of the Historical Section of the Foreign Office (London 1919); Stasys Salkauskas, Sur les confins des deux nzondes (1919); B. Skalweit, Landwirtschaft in den Litauischen Gouvernements (1918); Ludwig Sochassever, Memel, der Hafen von Litauen; K. Verbelis, La Lithuanie Russe (Geneve Edition Atar); W. St. Vidunas, Litauen (1916); A. Voldemar, Relations Russo-Lithuano-Polonaises (1920); idem, Lithuanie et Pologne (1920). (W. L. B.)
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