Swedish archives searched for copy of 1918 Lithuanian Independence act

April 20, 2008 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

As the BNS and the other news outlets announce the Lithuanian Embassy in Stockholm has initiated the search of a duplicate of the February 16 1918 Independence Act and other state documents of the 1918-1940 period in Swedish archives.

On February 16, 1918, the Council of Lithuania announced restoration of an independent democratic Lithuania after a few centuries as part of the Russian Empire. 20 persons, signed the Independence Act however, neither the original nor the copy of the document has been found by now. Historians continue investigating various versions of disappearance of the act, however, none of them has been fully proven.

As the BNS reminded amid the threat of losing the statehood to Soviet occupation in early 1940, the then Lithuanian President Antanas Smetona suggested to reconsider the fate of the Lithuanian diplomatic corps, maintenance of embassies and taking of key state treaties for storage abroad.

In the interwar period, all state documents were stored in the archives of the President’s Office in Kaunas. The most valuable treaties and other legal documents were prepared for evacuation in 1940.

Historian Raimundas Klimavičius told to the BNS that originals of the key documents, possibly including the duplicate of the 1918 Independence Act, were selected and put in five boxes that were to be airlifted to the United States via Sweden. However, the shipment never left Sweden due to certain circumstances.Lithuanian envoy to Sweden Vytautas Gylys cared for the documents during World War II.

After the Soviets occupied Lithuania, the Lithuanian embassy in Stockholm was closed and Gylys fled to the United States, the documents were handed for storage to the chairperson of the Swedish-Lithuanian society, Jon Sigurd Curman. Curman, a famous archeologist, art historian and restorer, passed away in 1966.

In Klimavičius’ opinion, part of the Lithuanian documents could still be in Curman’s personal archives.

According to the Lithuanian MFA the review of the Swedish archives should be completed by Septermber 1, 2008.

If the documents would be found it would be sensational news indeed!


Entry filed under: Baltic States, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Politics, Scandinavia, Sweden.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. bieksia  |  April 20, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Very interesting subject. I suspect that much more was hurried out of the country for the sake of preservation. Who knows what it is hidden away in private collections. Long ago I met a man who fled
    from Lithuanian at the last minute before Soviet Occupation casted it’s dark shadow over Lithuania. This man claims to have been an Assistant Minister of Economics. I have no reason to doubt him.
    He once showed me what he claimed to be origional Ciurlionis paintings. Who knows what else he may have hidden away. There
    were probably many more like him. I wonder how much Lithuanian
    history has been discarded by the children of such men after their deaths. Not knowing the importance of dusty old documents and other articles. In my younger years I learned of the death of an old Lithuanian Immigrant who had also fled from the Soviet Regime.
    I asked his grandchildren if there were any old publications or documents that they had no use for. I was told that most of these things had already been placed near the street for the refuse removal men to bring to the dump. My heart stopped for a moment.
    I noticed a large mound of ‘refuse’ that still had not been carted off.
    I did find a few books of interest, mostly Lithuanian population statistics. But I thought that someone doing research perhaps might
    find them valuable. I donated them to the Balzekas Museum in Chicago. But I often wonder how much has already been destroyed or forgotten.


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