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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

24 September 2017
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11 MARCH 1990
THE DAY LITHUANIA WOKE UP
FROM ITS 50 YEAR NIGHTMARE


Lithuanians rejoice over their newfound independence, 11 March 1990.
Here from Pilies Street in Vilnius Old Town.

By Aage Myhre, Editor in Chief
aage.myhre@VilNews.com

11 March 1990 is one of the most important days in Lithuanian history. It was on this day 23 years ago that the Lithuanian parliament declared renewed freedom and independence for Lithuania, after the country had been occupied by the Soviet Union since World War II. 124 Parliament delegates voted for the declaration, while six were absent.

In that same session, the Parliament elected Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, the leader of the liberation movement Sajūdis, as Parliament President. He won over the Communist Party leader Algirdas Brazauskas with a 91 to 38 vote.

11 March 1990 became a milestone in Lithuania's history because the Lithuanian politicians that day clearly demonstrated the country’s willingness to again become free and independent. Although it took another 18 months before the international community approved the nation’s independence from the Soviet occupying power, it was the 11 March actions that made it clear to the world that Lithuania no longer accepted to be incorporated into a system and a Commonwealth it had been involuntarily incorporated into when the World War II drew to an end.

11 March 1990 was in many ways the day when Lithuania’s new freedom began, and we must believe that this country now will remain free and sovereign forever, based on democratic principles and values corresponding to those having been developing in Western Europe after World War II ended in 1945.

I can very well imagine that many of the 1990 politicians signed the declaration act with trembling pens. They knew what power they challenged, and were fully aware of what reprisals they and the people they represented could expect from the big bear in the east. The Soviet Union was not a superpower to tease or irritate, and they knew that they would not be treated with kid gloves if the bear decided to strike back, reacting to the severance requirement they signed that day.

But they signed. They were brave. Without their signatures on the document shown below, it is quite possible that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia still today would be unfree republics under the 'protective' bear paws.

Lithuania’s independence declarations of 1918 and 1990 were both signed by wise and courageous political leaders who did not want to accept that their beloved homeland should remain occupied.

They deserve our respect and gratitude!

http://www3.lrs.lt/home/images/VISI/kovo11_sale.jpg
ABOVE: Seimas, 11 March 1990, the day Lithuania re-claimed its independence.
BELOW: The same Parliament Hall today. 

 

11 March 1990 

11 March 1990 is one of the most important days in Lithuanian history. It was on this day 23 years ago that the Lithuanian parliament declared renewed freedom and independence for Lithuania, after the country had been occupied by the Soviet Union since World War II. 124 Parliament delegates voted for the declaration (copy below), while six were absent. 

In that same session, the Parliament elected Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, the leader of the liberation movement Sajūdis, as Parliament President. He won over the Communist Party leader Algirdas Brazauskas with a 91 to 38 vote. 

11 March 1990 became a milestone in Lithuania's history because the Lithuanian politicians that day clearly demonstrated the country’s willingness to again become free and independent. Although it took another 18 months before the international community approved the nation’s independence from the Soviet occupying power, it was the 11 March actions that made it clear to the world that Lithuania no longer accepted to be incorporated into a system and a Commonwealth it had been involuntarily incorporated into when the World War II drew to an end. 

11 March 1990 was in many ways the day when Lithuania’s new freedom began, and we must believe that this country now will remain free and sovereign forever, based on democratic principles and values corresponding to those having been developing in Western Europe after World War II ended in 1945. 

While this March day 23 years ago was the beginning of the new time in and for Lithuania, the day was also symbolising that nearly 200 years of tragedies of and for this country had come to a final end. 

Through more than 500 years, from the 1200s when King Mindaugas declared Lithuania one nation, until it was occupied by the Russian Empire in 1795, Lithuania had been a proud and free nation, through some 300 years also one of the world’s greatest powers, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea (known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). 

The 123 years of occupation from 1795 to 1918, however, became a long and sad chapter for Lithuania, since much of the good qualities this nation once represented in the world community were attempted to be systematically broken down by the Russian Empire occupants. 

When Lithuania at the end of World War I (1914-1918) on 16 February 1918 again could declare itself a free nation, most Lithuanians probably believed that the newly won freedom would remain, but sadly, the new freedom lasted only for 22 years. Vilnius and the surrounding area was occupied by Poland already in 1920 and remained under Polish rule until the Second World War started in 1940, and Kaunas was therefore the capital of Lithuania for the years 1920 – 1940.

Nevertheless, Lithuania grew to become a strong nation during the interwar years, guided by, among others, the most famous Lithuanian leader of those days, President Antanas Smetona. 

World War II and the years just after became extremely tragic for Lithuania, when the nation was torn apart under alternate German and Russian occupation, and virtually all the large Jewish population was wiped out, and Lithuania thereby lost a population group that had meant so much for this nation since the 1300s. 

Also, during the war, tens of thousands of Lithuanians fled to the west, many who today live in the United States, Australia and other countries. Lithuanians were also exposed to extremely tragic abuse from Stalin's Soviet troops and his secret police (known as the KGB), when more than a hundred thousand Lithuanians were deported to Siberia and other areas in the Soviet Union where many of this country’s great citizens were killed or died during very shameful and cruel conditions. 

Already during the WWII years a strong resistance movement occurred, known as the Forest Brothers, who until the middle of the 1950s fought a heroic struggle against the Soviet power from their hiding places in the Lithuanian forests. It is suggested that around 20,000 Lithuanians and 70,000 soldiers from Stalin's Red Army and the KGB were killed during those post-war years. 

Lithuania became in 1990-1991 the first country that managed to detach itself from the Soviet Union. Latvia and Estonia followed soon after. We should all today be proud that this little country so bravely dared to stand up against the powerful Soviet powers. We should all be extremely happy that this little nation again enjoys freedom and democracy under the principle of equality for all its citizens, and we should be happy about the fact that 11 March 1990 was the day when Lithuania could finally put behind itself nearly 200 years of atrocities and suffering for its people – a people that had deserved so much better due to its proud history. 

image004
The Lithuanian Independence Act from 11 March 1990.

Category : Featured black / Lithuania today

  • […] 19th March, 2013 – Posted by admin 11 March 1990, the day Lithuania woke up from its 50 year nightmare Rimgaudas Vidziunas ‎*Question* Vytis tail up or Vytis tail down? Have you ever noticed? Can […]

    March 19 2013
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    • […] over their newfound independence, 11 March 1990.Here from Pilies Street in Vilnius Old Town. 11 March 1990, the day Lithuania woke up from its 50 year nightmare Lithuania’s independence declaration of 11 March 1990 was signed by wise and courageous political […]

      March 12 2013
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      • valdas

        LT hard earned an amzing global political and economic capital in the run-up to Kovo 11; then they wasted almost everything by starting to elect former Soviet nomenklatura to the top power in the country since 1992!

        Everybody is free to choose in a democracy but NOBODY is free from the consequences of choices made!

        Valdas Samonis
        Toronto

        March 11 2013
        CommentsLike
        • Todd

          The history of our litho occupation…today was independene day!

          March 11 2013
          CommentsLike

          • The Lithuanian people deserve this great accolade that you gave them, Aage! Thank you. We here in the United States, and I a sure Lithuanians around the world, cheered on that day too. We had nothing to fear, it was the brave Lithuanians who stood up against the Soviet tanks, who signed the declaration, who stood side by side with the Latvians and the Estonians demanding freedom. We are all proud of our countrymen and women who braved the threats of the Soviet bear and did not back down. We all thanked the countries that came forward immediately and recognized this independence. Sad to say, the government of the United States, although they never recognized the Soviet occupation, did not come forward to add credence to this movement. Now it has been free for 23 years and has made progress to shake off the horrible occupation it endured. We are proud, we are thankful, we are all Lithuanians!

            March 10 2013
            CommentsLike



            

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