Lithuania. The grand past.

7. What was previously called Lithuania?

Take the collection of geographical maps by E.E. Shiryaev “Belarus: Rus’ Belaya, Rus’ Chernaya i Litva v marte” [28]. [28].

1) It turns out that until the XIX century, modern Belarus was called Lithuania. And modern Lithuania was called differently: Žemaitija or Žmude.

2) It turns out that the Lithuanian language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was not used as the official language. Was used the Russian language, more precisely the old Belarusian – western dialect of the old Russian language.

To quote E. Е. Shiryaev.

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was formed on the territory of Belarus, with its capital Novogrudok in 1240… The main part of the present Lithuania, its western half, was not called Lithuania, but Zhemaitija – Zmudija, or Samogitija (Latin name). And it appeared as an autonomous principality within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as can be seen from the many old maps given in the book. Its citizens were called Zhmudin. The modern name (that is, “Lithuania” for modern Lithuania – author) is used only from the second half of the XIX century. The official language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was Old Belarusian until the late 17th century, when it was replaced by Polish. It should be noted that Lithuanian was not the official language during the whole existence of the Duchy. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was considered Slavic not only by language and culture, but also by the predominance of the Slavic population. [28], с.5.

When did the change of historical names take place?

Shiryaev answers this question clearly.

“In the nineteenth century the course of events led to a shift of historically established concepts and names of ethnic territories, population. Thus, the former ethnic territory of Zhemaitija began to be called Lithuania, and the traditional toponym “Lithuania”, identified during the previous centuries with northwestern Belarus (including Vilenschina), completely lost its former ethno-historical content”. [28], с.5.

It is difficult to say more clearly.

All this corresponds to our concept, according to which Lithuania is the old name of Belaya Rus, she is also Moscovia.

This fact proves to be true old maps. On the map supposedly of 1507, given in Shiryaev’s book it is clearly written:

Russia Alba sive Moscovia, which means “White Russia or Moscovia.” Modern commentator Ostrowski translates this clear inscription for some reason as :

“Greek Orthodoxy or Moscovia.”

You can see this fantastic translation perl in Ostrovsky’s book [29]. Quoted from [28], p.9. What can not be done to save the Scaligerian-Romanesque history.

Further, within the framework of our concept it turns out, that the city of “Novogrudok” with the capital in 1240 the Great Princedom Lithuanian is, most likely, Great Novgorod – Yaroslavl. In fact 1240 on Scaliger-Roman chronology, it is just the year of the “Mongolian” invasion.

From here also originates the name Samogitia, that is, simply Samo-Gotia, “Gothia proper”, used on the maps. We have already said that the Goths were called Tatars . See Herberstein’s book [27].

This text is an introductory fragment.

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Russian troops enter Lithuania during its voluntary accession to the USSR, 1940.

Present events around Russian Kaliningrad region once again allow to speak that the history has a propensity to repeat. The maneuvers of the government of modern Lithuania are not very different from the actions of their predecessors more than 80 years ago.

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Let’s remind, on June 18, 2022 Lithuania has notified Kaliningrad region about the termination since June 18 transit of the goods which have got under sanctions of the European Union: building materials, metal, wood, cement, fertilizers, alcohol, caviar and some other categories of the goods which make in total about 50 percent of all transit to the region.

Official Vilnius took advantage of the vague wording in the decisions of Brussels, subjecting the movement of cargoes from Russia to Russia to restrictions.

It should be noted that the European Union, preparing to admit the Baltic republics to its territory, recognized the unique geographical position of Kaliningrad and guaranteed the passage of cargoes to Russian territory. Now Brussels calls what is happening the initiative of the Lithuanian authorities.

The head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrelle gave a philosophical wording: “The EU does not want to block the traffic between Russia and Kaliningrad, but to avoid sanctions”.

There is no doubt that Lithuanian authorities, who, to put it mildly, have an unfriendly attitude to Russia, are willing to escalate the situation. Not forgetting on occasion to mention their suffering from the “Soviet occupation in 1940”.

The problem is one – those events, for the most part, were provoked precisely by the actions of the Lithuanian government.

The two-tier bridge in Kaliningrad.

The Shadow of Independence

During the First World War and the revolution in Russia, Lithuania, which was part of the Russian Empire, declared independence. However, by February 1918, when this happened, the territory of Lithuania was occupied by German troops. Therefore independence was originally planned not as a republic, but as a monarchy headed by a German prince. However, Germany’s defeat in the war changed these plans.

In December 1918, an alternative center of power was created in the form of the Lithuanian Soviet Republic. But during the battles, in which not only national opponents, but also Germans and then Poles fought against the “red” Lithuanians, Soviet Lithuania was defeated.

In 1920, a treaty was signed between the RSFSR and the Republic of Lithuania on mutual recognition and the establishment of the border.

The Lithuanians at this point had far more problems not with Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but with the Poles, who in the fall of 1920 proclaimed the state of Middle Lithuania with its capital in Vilna (Vilnius). Although Lithuanian politicians appealed to France and Great Britain, no one came to their aid. Two years later, the Middle Lithuania was incorporated into Poland as a voivodship. The Lithuanians, on the other hand, had to move their capital to Kaunas.

A Bundeswehr tank grenadier battalion forms the core of a reinforced forward presence on the eastern flank of the NATO zone in Lithuania.

“The people called you to be their father and leader.”

The resentment was so great that in 1926, Lithuania secretly proposed to the Soviet Union to conclude an alliance against Poland, but Moscow politely declined.

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Just during this period in the Soviet Union was an active ideological struggle within the party, in which the concept of “building socialism in a single country” won. In other words, Stalin and his supporters decided that the main task of the moment was internal development rather than focusing on the cause of world revolution.

In this regard, Moscow was not interested in any external conflicts, including those with Poland.

And Lithuania, frankly, was a bit of an ally. The republic was clearly feverish, with governments changing several times a year, and in 1926 there was a military coup that brought to power Antanas Smetona, a graduate of the Law Faculty of the University of St. Petersburg. For the sake of young Lithuania, the people called you to become its father and leader. At that time, from Taurage, from Beržai, the father led his sons to the front, The young men marched shoulder to shoulder, To find the enemies of Lithuania. We followed you, we’ll keep following you, Whether in joy or in struggle!

These verses were written as a gift for the 60th anniversary of the Lithuanian leader, who was officially called Tautos vadas – “Leader of the Nation.” Surprisingly, the personality cult of Smetona was formed at a time when even Comrade Stalin was revered far more modestly. Streets, squares, schools, and even the country’s only naval ship were named after the much-loved leader.

Participants of the demonstration in support of the recognition of the independence of the Baltic republics in front of the Central Park of Culture and Leisure named after Maxim Gorky.

Comrade Stalin for Neutrality

The Smetona regime severely restricted opposition activities, and was essentially dictatorial. During the 1926 coup the leaders of the Lithuanian Communist Party were arrested and subsequently executed.

But even this did not prevent ties between Moscow and Kaunas from being maintained. The Soviet Union was interested in normal relations with the Baltics and was quite satisfied that Lithuania did not enter into hostile military blocs.

Archival documents testify: in early 1930’s during the negotiations with Poland, France and even Germany, the Soviet Union raised the issue of the guarantees of the inviolability and neutral status of the Baltic States. Moscow was interested in ensuring that the Baltic territories did not become a launching pad for a military attack on the USSR, and the Soviet leadership was not too concerned about the internal political organization of these countries.

The Soviet Union had a fairly powerful intelligence apparatus in the Baltic republics to monitor the current situation. And after Hitler came to power in Germany, informants began to report to Moscow that local politicians were interested in strengthening ties with Berlin. Smetona stood out in particular in this respect.

The Lithuanian “leader of the nation” tried to pursue what is now called a “multi-vector policy,” maneuvering between Moscow, Paris, London, and Berlin. But after the so-called “Munich Agreement” in 1938, it became clear that attempts to form an anti-Nazi bloc involving the USSR and Western countries failed. And here it became clear that the states would have to decide with whom they were with.

Demonstration in Riga demanding Latvia's joining the USSR. July 1940.

Political maneuvers

In the spring of 1939, against the background of the final collapse of the independence of Czechoslovakia, which was occupied by the Third Reich, the USSR once again proposed at the talks with France and Great Britain to document the guarantees of the independence of the Baltic States. But London and Paris refused.

Germany, meanwhile, pursued a policy of strengthening its position in the Baltics. On March 20, 1939, the Third Reich issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the surrender of the Klaipeda region to Berlin. The ultimatum was accepted by Lithuania, and the territories came under German control.

Soviet intelligence reported on the increasing influence of pro-German organizations in Lithuania. Moscow’s worst fears were justified.

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Because the principle of “every man for himself” became firmly established in Europe, the Soviet Union, without making progress in the negotiations with France and Great Britain, agreed to conclude a Non-Aggression Treaty with Germany.

In the framework of the secret protocol to this treaty, Estonia was originally included in the Soviet sphere of interest, while Lithuania was included in Germany’s sphere of interest. But already in September 1939 the Soviet diplomats succeeded in getting Berlin to recognize both Lithuania and Estonia as the zone of interest of the Soviet Union.

Victory Square in Kaliningrad.

Vilnius on a platter

In September 1939, after the German invasion of Poland and the flight of its government, Red Army units occupied the territories of Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia east of the so-called “Kerzon Line”. These were lands inhabited by Ukrainians and Belorussians that had become part of Poland in 1921, contrary to the Entente. The USSR also established control over Vilna-Vilnius.

On October 10, 1939 the Treaty on the Transfer of the City of Vilna and the Vilna Region and on Mutual Assistance between the Soviet Union and Lithuania was signed. The Soviet Union gave Lithuania its lost capital together with its surroundings, and in return received the right to station a military contingent of 20,000 soldiers in the territory of the Republic.

At the same time Moscow made concessions to the Lithuanians, reducing the originally planned military contingent by more than half. The agreement refused to be recognized by Great Britain, which insisted that Vilnius was part of Poland. Nevertheless, the Lithuanians returned their main city two decades later.

Comrade Stalin had no intention of making Lithuania, as well as the other Baltic republics, part of the USSR in the fall of 1939. The military contingents provided security in the situation when the main attention of Berlin was concentrated on the western front.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid at a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in Warsaw. September 1, 2019.

We want a protectorate!

However, “Leader of the Nation” Smetona continued to play his game, considering the possibility of orienting himself toward the Third Reich. Moreover, provocations were committed against the Soviet military contingent on Lithuanian territory, and cases of abduction of soldiers were periodically recorded.

The Soviet leadership’s patience was overrun by reports that the head of the State Security Department, Augustinas Povilaitis, was negotiating on behalf of Smetona to bring Lithuania under German protectorate. In Berlin, Povilaitis was given to understand that such a thing would be quite feasible in the coming months. At the same time the Germans did not hide from the Lithuanians that the war against the Soviet Union was inevitable. Moscow was also well aware of this – the only question was the timing.

Even in May 1940 the Politburo of the CPSU(b) Central Committee decided to repatriate to Lithuania the Lithuanian population of the Lithuanian border regions of Belarus. Such a document would make no sense, if the directive on the accession of Lithuania had been approved by that time.

Main assembly line of the RAF minibus plant, Latvia, 1988.

Improvisation in the Soviet way

Surprising thing is that both under the tsarism and under the Bolsheviks, in critical periods our top leadership often acts in a situational manner. Even knowing about scheming of Smetona with Hitler and planned protectorate, Stalin did not want to make Lithuania a part of the USSR.

But in May 1940, Germany, having completed the “Strange War” period, staged a blitzkrieg against France. In just a few weeks, the strongest army in continental Europe was smashed to smithereens.

It was a shock to everyone. The expectation that the Third Reich would bog down on the Western front did not materialize. The threat of an impending Soviet-German war became so close that Moscow had to throw all its previous plans in the garbage can. There was no way to allow the creation of a German bridgehead in the Baltics, and the current state of affairs could not serve as a guarantee against it.

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Since June 7, 1940, the Soviet-Lithuanian negotiations were held in Moscow. Vyacheslav Molotov, the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the USSR said, that Vilnius did not fulfill the conditions of the earlier agreement, which was a threat to Moscow.

On June 14, 1940 the Soviet Union delivered an ultimatum to Lithuania – in connection with abductions of soldiers of the Red Army and other hostile acts, Moscow demanded to bring the guilty to justice, to form a government which would comply with the international obligations and to station additional units of the Red Army in Lithuania. The deadline for the ultimatum was 10:00 on June 15.

The Vilnius Conference that launched the creation of the Lithuanian state.

The “Leader of the Nation” was ruined by the fur coat.

For the majority of the Lithuanian politicians such turn of events was a shock. But, to tell the truth, the USSR was not ready, either – the military reports of those days show that the troops were not prepared at all for the military operation. And how much it would have cost in the case of active resistance, we do not know.

“Leader of the Nation” Smetona insisted on military action, but most members of the government, to his astonishment, were against it. As a result, he resigned, and the commander of the Lithuanian army, General Vincas Vitkauskas, gave orders to his subordinates to greet the Red Army units entering Lithuanian territory “in a friendly manner”.

Smetona, on the same day, fled to Germany, taking with him a suitcase of foreign currency from the Bank of Lithuania. He was met by the intelligence officers of the Third Reich, who took the former Lithuanian leader to Berlin. He tried to organize a “government-in-exile”, but the German leaders decided that Smetona had already lost his party and that there was no point in aggravating relations with Moscow over him. He was soon pushed out, politely but firmly.

As a result, Smetona settled in the United States, where he died in a house fire in January 1944. The former Lithuanian president could have escaped, but choked to death in the smoke while trying to remove an expensive fur coat.

What will be, will not be

General Vitkauskas, a consistent supporter of compliance with treaties with the USSR, after the creation of the Lithuanian SSR within the Soviet Union was appointed commander of the 29th Territorial Rifle Corps, established on the basis of formations of the former Lithuanian army. Subsequently, he was a lecturer at the K.E. Voroshilov Higher Military Academy and head of the military department at Kaunas University with the rank of lieutenant general in the Soviet Army. To the numerous Lithuanian awards were added the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Star and the Order of World War I.

On July 1, 1940 People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov in the conversation with the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the pro-Soviet government of Lithuania Krewe-Mitskevičius said that the decision in principle to join the Baltic republics to the USSR was made.

On July 14, elections were held in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, where the pro-Soviet Unions of the Working People won a convincing victory. On July 21-22, they proclaimed the creation of the Latvian SSR, Lithuanian SSR and Estonian SSR. All three republics asked to join the Soviet Union.

On August 3-6, 1940 the accession of the new republics to the USSR was officially formalised.

To summarize, in the 1930’s Moscow was not interested in territorial gains, it was interested in its own security. But when it became clear that Lithuania preferred hostile maneuvers to friendly relations and neutrality, what happened.

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