Volume 38

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, vol. XXXVIIICreating Modern Nation-States in the Eastern Baltic

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. XXXVIII

Editors: Vygantas Vareikis, Silva Pocytė

Klaipėda, 2019

In the vast area from Finland to Poland and further south, the year 1918 is still often described as the year of gaining freedom, when states either proclaimed or restored their independence. Basing ourselves on national narratives, such assessments of the whole current of events of that time prevent us from seeing the fundamentality of the changes that were taking place. With these changes in progress, modern nation-states began to develop in this European area, a phenomenon that had been common in Western Europe for several centuries already. After the First World War, the formation of political entities whose sovereignty derived from nations was connected here with attempts to establish new societies on the ruins of the imperial order. In this volume of Acta Historica, historians from five countries come together to examine visions related to the nation-states, their implementation in practice, and the challenges that have been constant companions to these processes.

Editor’s note

Introduction. On the Making of Nation-States in the Eastern Baltic after the Great War

Political visions and their representation

Priėjimas prie Baltijos jūros kaip lietuvių politinis siekis: XIX a. pabaiga – XX a. pradžia
EN title: Access to the Baltic Sea as a Lithuanian Political Aspiration (Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries)

Abstract and Full Text
In geo-political terms, Lithuania was never a maritime state. In 1916, however, its politicians formulated a clear claim to obtain access to the sea and have a commercial port for the first time. The claim appeared in a memorandum attributed to Antanas Smetona, but signed by 12 politicians and presented to the German military authorities of the Ober Ost. So far, historians have not questioned the intellectual origins of the claim. Discussing the emergence of the issue of Lithuania’s sea access, the article seeks to identify the reasons for the ventilation of this issue in the Lithuanian-language press, and to show how it arose and how it manifested itself in political practice. The main argument is that the origin of the idea of Lithuania as a maritime state should be associated with the period of the First World War, whereas Lithuania’s claim for access to the sea cannot be explained solely by the idea of uniting Prussian and Russian areas inhabited by Lithuanian speakers.

Key words: First World War, Lithuanian nationalism, territorial claims, maritime state, sea access.


Lietuvos užsienio politika tarpukariu: kova su likimu ar tradicija?
EN title: Lithuanian Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period: A Battle against Fate or Tradition?

Abstract and Full Text
Wilsonianism, the political philosophy of President Woodrow Wilson of the USA, was seen in Europe in 1919 as a way out of the chaotic and almost hopeless situation in international relations that had emerged in the autumn of 1918. The philosophy established a new ideology of international relations based on the equality of sovereign states, a doctrine of collective security, and the preservation of peace and stability. In European and world political history, this was the beginning of a geo-political experiment that, to a large extent, continues to this day. New entities in international politics, such as the Lithuanian state, proclaimed in 1918, had to adapt to the new ideology as well. The essay provides an outline of the stimuli and obstacles to Lithuanian foreign policy in that direction in the period between the two world wars. Based on sources from Lithuanian and Russian archives, published documents and historical research, the author discusses the links between Lithuanian foreign policy and its controversial historical heritage, complex domestic political processes, and attempts to solve the problems it faced in its cooperation with Bolshevik Russia (the USSR).

Key words: Lithuanian nationalism, Lithuanian-Polish relations, Lithuanian-Soviet relations, Vilnius question, collective security, League of Nations.


The Foreign Policy of Interwar Lithuania in the Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Language Press (1917–1939)

Abstract and Full Text
The events that took place in Lithuania, both during the struggle for the revival of the Lithuanian state (1917–1918) and during the years of its sovereignty up to 1940, aroused the interest of the Ukrainian public. Both nations, Lithuania and Ukraine, went a similar way in implementing their national state projects. As the project of sovereign Ukraine failed, however, Lithuania became important, because it provided significant support to the Ukrainian liberation movement, and was perceived among nationalist Ukrainian elites as a historical and natural ally. The article shows how the priorities and vectors of Lithuanian foreign policy were covered by the Ukrainian press. The author discusses the period between the world wars. An integral part of the article is a list of publications in Ukrainian and Ukrainian-language periodicals devoted to these questions.

Key words: Lithuanian foreign policy, Ukrainian SSR, Ukrainian press, Ukrainian issue, Lithuanian-Polish relations, Lithuanian-German relations.


Creating a new social order

Creating a Penal System in the Republic of Latvia, 1919–1921

Abstract and Full Text
The government of the Republic of Latvia began creating a penal system as soon as it took control of the territory it claimed. According to the international understanding, imprisonment was not only seen as the isolation of a person, but also included serious steps in ‘correctional practices’. The article deals with the first stage of the creation of a penal system in Latvia, of which the end can be linked to the ‘Instructions for Prison Employees’, the first law regulating prisons in the Republic of Latvia, which was passed on 16 April 1921. This stage coincided with the period when Latvia switched to peacetime order after the end of the War of Independence. By presenting an overview of the creation of the state penal system, the author highlights the most important steps taken by the prison administration, and the conditions the state prison system faced.

Key words: criminal justice, corrections, penal system, incarceration, prisons, Latvian War of Independence.


School of Nation. The Concept and Praxis of the Soldier’s Education in the Estonian National Army in the Interwar Period (1920–1940)

Abstract and Full Text
Estonia was a post-imperial country where the question of how to develop a citizen loyal to the new nation-state arose after the First World War. Seen by some as being composed of the ‘best part of the Estonian nation’, the army was considered to be a good tool for the effective training of citizens. In order to fulfil the idea of the army as a ‘school of nation’, the crucial issues were the creation of its own military traditions, language policy, and the education of personnel. The leadership of the army tried to eliminate the influence of the former Imperial Russian army, invented new military traditions in the national spirit, and actively cultivated nationalist ideas. The article analyses the education of Estonian military personnel in this regard, discussing how nationalism, language policy, cultural training and history lessons helped to embody the vision of the army as the school of nation.

Key words: Estonian army, nationalism, military education, cultural training, language policy.


National minorities: cooperation, integration and exclusion

The Integration of National Minorities in Finland and Estonia during the Interwar Period (1918–1939)

Abstract and Full Text
In the interwar years, Finland and Estonia were characterised by the fact that in both countries exceptionally broad linguistic and cultural rights were given to national minorities, compared with the situation in the rest of Europe. There were several factors behind this. One was the relationship between ethnic groups from a historical perspective. Another was each country’s internal debate on the kind of social order in general that was to be built. The third was how politics in Finland and Estonia was influenced by international trends and theories on how national minorities should be treated. The article analyses how national minorities were taken into account in the Finnish and Estonian constitutions which held true in the period between the two world wars, and why account was taken precisely in a certain way. At the same time, it considers what kind of views in this regard were presented by different political parties, what kind of debates were held in the parliaments of both countries, and how the matter was dealt with by other significant interest groups.

Key words: Finnish legislation, Estonian legislation, national minorities, national relations.


The Jewish Contribution to Lithuanian Independence 1918/1919

Abstract and Full Text
Historians have already shown how the Jewish minority contributed to the rebirth of the Lithuanian state in 1918. The beginning of the experiment to integrate the Jewish minority into the reemergent Lithuanian state, however, has often been told from the perspective of failure only. The article challenges this view, by describing how Zionism, the Jewish national movement, supported the emergence of the Lithuanian state. The author analyses how the Jews supported the newly created Lithuanian government by voting to send representatives to it, and by producing a document that improved the international position of the Lithuanian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, and which was helpful for the international recognition of the young state.

Key words: Lithuanian Jews, Lithuanian-Jewish relations, Zionism, Paris Peace Conference, international recognition.


Hektoras VITKUS
Žydų kariai Lietuvos (lietuvių) Nepriklausomybės (1919–1923 m.) kovose: ką žinome apie jų motyvus?
EN title: Jewish Soldiers in the Lithuanian War of Independence (1919–1923): What do We Know about the Reasons behind their Engagement?

Abstract and Full Text
Historians believe that between 2,000 and 4,000 Jewish soldiers took part in the struggle for Lithuanian independence in 1919–1923, of whom at least 500 joined the Lithuanian army as volunteers. Although recent research casts doubt on these figures, it is clear that only a small number of Lithuanian Jews joined the fledgling Lithuanian army. One explanation for this could be the deliberate intentions of the leadership of the Lithuanian armed forces to avoid active Jewish involvement, since Jews were not trusted. Despite the atmosphere of mistrust, some Lithuanian Jews chose to join the Lithuanian army. The article tries to establish what motives led to their decision. The discussion may help find answers to the often-raised and still relevant questions about Jewish-Lithuanian political relations during the period of the creation of the modern Lithuanian state.

Key words: Jewish-Lithuanian relations, national minorities, Lithuanian war of independence, Lithuanian army, Jewish soldiers, motivation to join the military.


Source publications

Vokietijos pavojus ir karo dviem frontais katastrofa (Lietuvos kariuomenės 1936–1937 m. operacijų planai nr. 1 „V“ ir nr. 2 „V+L“)
EN title: The German Threat and the Catastrophe of the War on Two Fronts: The Lithuanian Army’s Operational Plans No 1 ‘V’ and No 2 ‘V+L’, 1936–1937

[Lietuvos kariuomenės štabo I skyriaus] Operacijų planas nr. 1 „V“, 1937 m. vasario 8 d.

[Lietuvos kariuomenės štabo I skyriaus] Operacijų planas nr. 2 „V+L“, 1937 m. sausio 12 d.

Appendix (available as online supplement only)

Book reviews

Ne „pertirti“, bet permąstyti: pastabos Vytauto Jokubausko knygos paraštėse
JOKUBAUSKAS, Vytautas. Netiesioginis poveikis ir Lietuvos karinis saugumas 1919–1940 m. Klaipėda: Klaipėdos universiteto Baltijos regiono istorijos ir archeologijos institutas, 2019. – 368 p. ISBN 978-609-404-277-5

Nauja knyga Lietuvos šaulių sąjungos šimtmečiui istoriografijos kontekste
NEFAS, Mindaugas. Dvasios aristokratai: Lietuvos šaulių sąjungos siekiai ir realybė 1919–1940 m. Vilnius: Versus, 2019. – 495 p. ISBN 978-9955-829-22-5