22 January 2018
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Front page

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How could the western nations ignore the abuse by its wartime ally the USSR of all of the countries it had conquered during WW2?Why didn’t America and Britain declare war on the USSR as its tanks and troops invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland?

A Lithuanian family at Lena river
“The tents were freezing cold, harsh, and distressing; so, the adults decided to build better living conditions.  "We can build barracks," said one Lithuanian, "We can catch the logs in the Lena River." The men waded barefoot into the icy water, caught floating logs, brought them to shore, and built the barracks. They covered the outside walls with snow and ice which they learned would help keep out the frigid temperature. They also found a large iron stove, which they placed in the middle of the building.

It must have been quite a shock for the surviving deportees to return ‘home’ from Siberia to Lithuania in the 1950s and 1960s. The country they had loved and cared so much about was now ruled and mismanaged by Moscow-believing Communists. Since 1941 more than 300.000 persons had been deported to Siberia, with tens of thousands dying en route to or on the permafrost. The 1950s was the decade when Lithuania's 10-year guerrilla war against the superior Soviet forces came to an end, with the result that 22.000 Lithuanian forest brothers and about 70.000 Soviet soldiers had lost their lives, thus the longest and bloodiest guerrilla war of modern Europe. 

In the 1960s, several new suburbs started developing in Vilnius, and it is today estimated that more than 70% of the city’s population lives in blockhouses.

PHOTO: View from Antakalnis towards the (by then) new district Žirmūnai. By: Antanas Sutkus, 1964

If there were those in the West who had not heard of Lithuania before, they almost certainly had by the end of the day 13 January 1991…

Category : News / Front page

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Exclusive VilNews interview with Professor Landsbergis, Veisaitė 


Photo: Patrick Murphy

Journalist: Dalia Cidzikaitė
Questions prepared by Aage Myhre

Today we have the pleasure of presenting a large, exclusive interview with two professors who have meant infinitely much for their homeland Lithuania. In today's interview, we focus on their memories, experiences of and thoughts about the following  eras of their lives, over the years 1930-1960: 


Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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National rebirth 1920-1940

Lithuania declared independence in 1918, after 123 years of mostly Russian occupation. The interwar years were very successful and the country prospered immensely. Kaunas was the capital for the period 1919-1940, after Poland occupied Vilnius and southern Lithuania.

Lithuania declared independence in 1918, after almost 123 years of Russian occupation. The interwar years were very successful and the country prospered immensely. It has been said that Lithuania was the world's fastest growing economy during those 20 years. Kaunas was the capital for the period 1919-1940, after Poland occupied Vilnius and southern Lithuania. President Antanas Smetona ruled for the period 1926-1940.

Category : Front page

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Holocaust killed 95% of

all Jews in Lithuania 

The Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuania's Jewish population. Out of more than 200.000, around 95% were murdered during WWII, the most tragic, worst example of Holocaust in the whole world.

Category : Front page

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300.000 innocent people were deported to Siberia

During 1940–1953, some 132.000 Lithuanians were deported to remote areas of the USSR. More than 70% were women and children. 30.000 died there due to climate, hard slave work and starvation. 50.000 were not able to return to Lithuania. During the same period, another 200.000 people were prisoned and 150.000 of them were sent to Siberian Gulags.

Category : Front page

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Modern Europe's longest, bloodiest partisan war

22.000 Lithuanian 'forest brothers' and 70.000 Soviet soldiers were killed in modern Europe's longest and bloodiest guerrilla war, after the Balts withdrew into the woods to organize their powerful armed partisan resistance when the Soviet Union re-occupied the Baltic States in 1944.

Category : Front page

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How did Soviet communism

influence Lithuania?


By Dr. Valdas Samonis,
Toronto, Canada

In 1940, independent Lithuania produced per capita 1.9 times more meat, 2.8 times more milk, had 1.9 times more cattle and 2.7 times more pigs than Soviet Union. After 50 years of allegedly astounding economic progress, Soviet Lithuania had become dependent on subsidies from Moscow. To the extent that this assertion is true, how is this possible if not for the inefficiencies caused by the forcefully imposed system of central planning with its associated distortions?

Noncommunist Lithuania fed and clothed its citizens without any assistance from abroad during the interwar independence period. And the levels of agricultural production were high by comparison to the Soviet Union;

Following its forceful incorporation into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1940, Lithuania was subjected to the Soviet development model based on Marxism-Leninism, as interpreted by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as its theoretical underpinning; the first "scientifically based economic system in human history", as Bolsheviks claimed. The Bolshevik interpretation of economic processes and development goals was made obligatory in both the theoretical and practical dimensions. New methods of economic management /central planning/ were introduced which deeply changed the entire decision-making processes. The country's economic administration was completely overhauled. The Soviet occupation of Lithuania lasted nearly half a century.

 Valdas Samonis: "I believe that the abject failure of Western experts (economists, political scientists, sociologists, etc) to foresee the impending USSR's total collapse under the weight of the communist system's own inefficiency (like an old mushroom in Lithuania's forest) was largely due to Western anti-anti-communism; it grossly exaggerated the Soviet communist regime's stability and legitimacy. The so called "scientific-based system" lie repeated by the Soviets with Goebbels efficiency and force, gave rise to that Western anti-anti-communism and it was the greatest Bolshevik deception (brilliant, indeed!) that all those "good-heart" Western intellectuals fell for. 

What an intellectual shame to Western universities and other elites!
Category : Front page

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Kaunas pictures from the 1930s


Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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Lithuanian DPs

in Australia after WW2

Image Copyright Western Australian Museum

By Jura Reilly

After World War Two Australia agreed to provide a haven for 170,000 refugees from war-torn Europe. This was the beginning of a large-scale immigration program undertaken by the Australian government, which felt that the population needed to grow so that the country could defend itself better, and have enough people to fill all the jobs that were available. Most of the refugees arrived during 1949 and 1950. Before WW2, more than 90% of Australians were from a British or Irish background. Presently, this proportion has dropped to approximately 80%. A total of 9906 Lithuanian DPs came to Australia between 1947 and 1953. In the 2011 Census, 13,594 adults acknowledged Lithuanian origins.

Category : Front page / Historical Lithuania

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VilNews is back!

Our publication VilNews has been inactive over the past two years. But here we are again, ready with a fresh new issue. We wish old and new readers worldwide warmly welcome!

“New” VilNews consists of 18 sections that you can immerse yourself into by clicking on the link buttons at the top of each page.

If “old” VilNews had been printed on paper, it would become a book of more than 7,000 pages of totally unique reading material about historical and contemporary Lithuania. This huge material is still available. All old and new articles are sorted by topics, in our 18 sections.

The VilNews concept is a unique combination of informative articles, social media (blogs and commentaries) and background articles about Lithuanian people, history, culture, politics, tourism, economy and much more. We do very much appreciate feedback and comments from our readers. Good debate is always healthy!

I wish you some good reading, and please do not hesitate to contact us!

Say what you mean – mean what you say – don`t be mean

Aage Myhre

Category : About VilNews / Front page

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Fearful of Russia, Lithuanian

volunteers sign up fearing

a repeat of Ukraine



Finishing his working week as a lawyer, Robert Juodka puts on his fatigues, loads his assault rifles into the car and heads off to the woods to take part in training. He and his comrades regard their “war games” as deadly serious; preparations for resisting a Russian invasion.

The Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, which was disbanded by the country’s communist government, now has 10,000 members. New recruits join every week. The age range is wide, but a hard nucleus is being formed of former service personnel. And experienced foreign volunteers may be admitted in the future. Many fear that what has happened to Ukraine may be revisited in Lithuania.


Read the full article here:

Category : Lithuania today / Front page

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 From Chicago to Paris – then by

car through Europe to Lithuania!


By Diana Pauliūtė Clarisse
Phd in Chemistry, Chicago USA

 For about an hour now the two GPSs have been cooing two different directions.  Our Tom Tom brought from home was telling us to ”turn left when possible”, while the GPS mounted in the rental car is having us move ever Northeast.  My husband is saying we should listen to our Tom Tom.  That would have been a good idea I think as we come to an abrupt standstill.  The cars in front of us line up in a row looking like it goes on forever.  Some of the drivers are standing next to their cars chatting away with other drivers as though they had been there all day.  There must have been an accident, I say.  The time is late in the afternoon, we have been perhaps 20 hrs on the road.

Category : Front page / Lithuania in the world


Have your say. Send to:

By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

* * *

Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
By Leonidas Donskis
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!

* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.

* * *
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
* * *
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

* * *

Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

VilNews e-magazine is published in Vilnius, Lithuania. Editor-in-Chief: Mr. Aage Myhre. Inquires to the
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All content is copyrighted © 2011. UAB ‘VilNews’.

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