Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic

Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic
Литовская Советская Социалистическая Республик
Lietuvos Tarybų Socialistinė Respublika
Unrecognized Soviet Socialist Republic
(1940–1941, 1944–1990/91)
De facto sovereign entity (1989–90)
Flag (1953–1988) State emblem (1978–1988)
Visų šalių proletarai, vienykitės! (Lithuanian)
"Workers of the world, unite!"
Anthem of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic
Location of the Lithuanian SSR within the Soviet Union.
Capital Vilnius
Languages Official languages:
Lithuanian · Russian
Minority languages:
Demonym Lithuanian
Government Unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party Soviet socialist republic
First Secretary
   1944–1974 Antanas Sniečkus
  1988–1990 Algirdas Brazauskas
Chairman of the Supreme Council
  1990–1991 Vytautas Landsbergis
Historical era World War II · Cold War
  Soviet occupation 16 June 1940
   SSR established 21 July 1940
  Illegally annexed by USSR, Lithuania continued de jure 3 August 1940
  Nazi occupation 1941
  Soviet re-occupation
SSR re-established
  Singing Revolution 1988
  Sovereignty declared 18 May 1989
   Restoration of Independence declared 11 March 1990
  Independence recognized 6 September 1991
   1989 65,200 km² (25,174 sq mi)
   1989 est. 3,689,779 
     Density 56.6 /km²  (146.6 /sq mi)
Calling code +7 012
Today part of  Lithuania

The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (Lithuanian SSR; Lithuanian: Lietuvos Tarybų Socialistinė Respublika; Russian: Литовская Советская Социалистическая Республика, Litovskaya Sovetskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika), also known as Soviet Lithuania or Lithuania was a republic of the Soviet Union. It existed from 1940 to 1990.

Established on 21 July 1940 as a puppet state,[1] during World War II in the territory of the previously independent Republic of Lithuania after it had been occupied by the Soviet army on 16 June 1940, in conformity with the terms of the 23 August 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

Between 1941 and 1944, the German invasion of the Soviet Union caused its de facto dissolution. However, with the retreat of the Germans in 1944–1945, Soviet hegemony was re-established, and existed for fifty years. As a result, many western countries (including the United States) continue to recognize Lithuania as an independent, sovereign de jure state subject to international law represented by the legations appointed by the pre-1940 Baltic states which functioned in various places through the Lithuanian Diplomatic Service.

On 18 May 1989, the Lithuanian SSR declared state sovereignty within its borders during perestroika. On 11 March 1990, the Republic of Lithuania was declared to be re-established as an independent state and the declaration (while considered illegal by the Soviet authorities) was recognized immediately prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Soviet Union itself recognized Lithuanian independence on 6 September 1991.


Post–World War I

There had been an unsuccessful attempt to establish a Soviet government in Lithuania by the Bolshevik Red Army in 1918–1919. The Lithuanian SSR was first proclaimed on 16 December 1918, by the provisional revolutionary government of Lithuania, formed entirely by the Communist Party of Lithuania. The Lithuanian SSR was supported by the Red Army, but it failed to create a de facto government with any popular support as the Council of Lithuania had successfully done earlier. Two months later on 27 February 1919, it was joined by the Soviet Socialist Republic of Byelorussia and they proclaimed the Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (LBSSR or Litbel), which existed for only six months, until 25 August 1919.

The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic officially recognized the Republic of Lithuania by signing the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty on 12 July 1920, thus ending the existence of the fledgling Soviet Republic. It has been suggested that the failure to conquer Poland in the Polish–Soviet War prevented the Soviets from invading Lithuania and re-establishing a Soviet republic at the time.[2][3]

World War II

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, stated that Lithuania was to be included into the German "sphere of influence". However soon after World War II began in September 1939, and the agreement was amended to transfer Lithuania to the Soviet sphere.[4] This was granted in exchange for Lublin and parts of the Warsaw province of Poland, originally ascribed to the Soviet Union, but by that time already occupied by German forces.

Following the 1940 Soviet ultimatum to Lithuania and subsequent invasion of 15 June 1940, President Antanas Smetona fled the country. Before doing so, in accordance with the Lithuanian constitution, he turned over his duties on a provisional basis to Prime Minister Antanas Merkys. The day after Smetona's departure, Merkys announced he had deposed Smetona and had taken over the presidency in his own right. On 17 June, at the behest of the Soviets, Merkys appointed a left-wing journalist, Justas Paleckis, as prime minister. Merkys then himself resigned, making Paleckis acting president as well. For all intents and purposes, Lithuania had lost its independence.

Paleckis appointed a Communist-dominated "people's government" with Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius as prime minister. This government dissolved the Fourth Seimas and announced elections for a "People's Seimas" on 14 July. Voters were selected with a single list provided by the "Union of the Working People of Lithuania," which was merely a front for the recently re-emerged Communist Party of Lithuania. The new People's Seimas met on 21 July and had only one piece of business—a resolution that transformed Lithuania into the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and petitioned the Soviet Union to admit it as a constituent republic. This resolution carried unanimously. On 3 August, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR "accepted" the petition and admitted the Lithuanian SSR as the 14th republic of the Soviet Union. Lithuania now maintains that since Smetona never resigned, Merkys' takeover of the presidency was illegal, and all actions leading to the Soviet annexation were therefore ipso facto void.

Lithuania was subsequently invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in June 1941. With the 1944 Soviet Baltic offensive, Soviet rule was re-established in July 1944. After both Soviet occupations, mass deportation of the Lithuanians into gulags and other forced settlements ensued.

1940 Soviet map of the Lithuanian SSR

During World War II

The United States, United Kingdom, and other countries considered the occupation of Lithuania by the USSR illegal, citing the Stimson Doctrine, in 1940, but agreed not to forcibly violate frontiers of the USSR at post-World War II conferences. The United States refused to recognize the annexation of Lithuania or the other Baltic States, by the Soviet Union, at any time of the existence of the USSR.


Main article: Lithuania
Flag of the Lithuanian SSR/Republic of Lithuania (1988-1991).

Lithuania declared sovereignty on its territory on 18 May 1989 and declared independence from the Soviet Union on 11 March 1990 as the Republic of Lithuania, and was the first Soviet republic to do so. All legal ties of the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the republic were cut as Lithuania declared the restitution of its independence. The Soviet Union claimed that this declaration was illegal, as Lithuania had to follow the process of secession mandated in the Soviet Constitution if it wanted to leave.

Lithuania contended that the entire process by which Lithuania joined the Soviet Union violated both Lithuanian and international law so it was merely reasserting an independence that previously existed. The Soviet Union threatened to invade, but the Russian SFSR's declaration of sovereignty on June 12 meant that the Soviet Union could not enforce Lithuania's retention.

While other republics held the union-wide referendum in March to restructure the Soviet Union in a loose form, Lithuania, along with Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova backed out from the votes, it held an independence referendum earlier that month with the majority of 93.2% voters accepted it.

Iceland immediately recognised Lithuania's independence. Most other countries followed suit after the failed coup in August, with the State Council of the Soviet Union recognising Lithuania's independence on 6 September 1991. The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on 26 December 1991. After independence, Lithuania joined the United Nations on 17 September 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.


Further information: Eastern Bloc economies

Collectivization in the Lithuanian SSR took place between 1947 and 1952.[5]

The 1990 per capita GDP of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was $8,591, which was above the average for the rest of the Soviet Union of $6,871.[6] This was still half or less than half of the per capita GDPs of adjacent countries Norway ($18,470), Sweden ($17,680) and Finland ($16,868).[6] Overall, in the Eastern Bloc, the inefficiency of systems without competition or market-clearing prices became costly and unsustainable, especially with the increasing complexity of world economics.[7] Such systems, which required party-state planning at all levels, ended up collapsing under the weight of accumulated economic inefficiencies, with various attempts at reform merely contributing to the acceleration of crisis-generating tendencies.[8]



During the Soviet period, basketball formed the core of the Soviet basketball team and competed in EuroBasket and the Olympic Games with two gold medals. After independence was restored, many of them from the 1988 team re-established the national team of their own.

See also


  1. Ronen, Yaël (2011). Transition from Illegal Regimes Under International Law. Cambridge University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-521-19777-9.
  2. Snyder, Timothy (2004). The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999. Yale University Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 0-300-10586-X.
  3. Senn, Alfred Erich (September 1962). "The Formation of the Lithuanian Foreign Office, 1918–1921". Slavic Review. 3 (21): 500–507. doi:10.2307/3000451. ISSN 0037-6779.
  4. Christie, Kenneth, Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, RoutledgeCurzon, 2002, ISBN 0-7007-1599-1
  5. O'Connor 2003, p. xx–xxi
  6. 1 2 Madison 2006, p. 185
  7. Hardt & Kaufman 1995, p. 1
  8. Hardt & Kaufman 1995, p. 10
  9. Dictionary of Minor Planet Names - p. 210


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