Culture

Lithuania Reinstates Its Independence: #OnThisDay

flag of LithuaniaOn 16th of February 1918 Lithuania reinstated its independence.

At the end of World War 1  The Council of Lithuania signed The Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania. This would restore the nation of Lithuania governed by democratic principles.

It had taken a long time to get to this point. Lithuania had been annexed by the Russian Empire and then had to deal with the power of the German Empire as it invaded parts of western Russian dominated lands during WW1.

Having a powerful larger neighbour is difficult for smaller nations and Lithuania took advantage of the weakened state of Germany to advance the reinstatement of its nationhood.

This was only the beginning of a long hard won fight to restore an independent Lithuania. The Wars of Independence followed as the chaos in the aftermath of the carnage of WW1 continued across Europe. For a small newly reinstated Lithuania bordering both Russia and Poland protecting their new democracy was hard won.

As the aftermath of the First World War carved up Europe so did the Second. Having been occupied by the USSR then Nazi Germany for most of the war period, post war the USSR again took control over Lithuania. It is estimated that Lithuania lost 780,000 people between 1940 and 1954 under the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Between 1944 and 1953, nearly 120,000 people (5% of the population) were deported, and thousands more became political prisoners.

LithuaniaOn March 11, 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR proclaimed the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania.  This was forcibly opposed by the USSR who took over communication stations and government facilities. On March 15th 1990 sanctions were imposed by the USSR and it demanded that the Lithuanians revoke their declaration of independence.

By the 26th of December 1991 the USSR itself had collapsed.

Lithuania was eventually admitted into the United Nations as an independent nation on September 17th 1991.

Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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