Virtual exhibition “History of Commemoration Events of February the 16th Abroad in 1940–1990”

Events type
Exhibitions
Event location
Virtual space
Date
2017.02.14 - 2021.02.16
Time
10:00
Organizer
Lietuvos centrinis valstybės archyvas
Contacts
Phone 852477802 , E-mail dz.kasiulaitiene@archyvai.lt , http://virtualios-parodos.archyvai.lt/lt/virtualios-parodos/34/vasario-16-osios-minejimu-uzsienyje-istorija-19401990-m./exh-23

On 16 February 1918, the Lithuanian Council signed the Lithuanian Independence Act proclaiming that “Lithuania has restored the independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital, severing all previous links with other states”.

The day of restoration of the state of Lithuania was solemnly celebrated back in 1919 in its temporary capital Kaunas. Later on, the 16th of February was commemorated in solemn mass, festive army marches, performances, concerts and abundant gatherings of public organizations and residents in main squares of cities and towns of Lithuania. This day was also celebrated in other ways. This is the day when Vytautas Magnus War Museum (1921), the University of Lithuania (later renamed to Vytautas Magnus University) (1922) and Alka Museum in Telšiai (1932) were founded.

After the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in 1940, the former state and its holiday traditions were destroyed. During the Soviet times, celebrating the day of restoration of the state was prohibited in Lithuania, thus commemoration of February 16th gained special significance in Lithuanian communities abroad. On 16 February 1944, the Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania published its declaration “To the Lithuanian Nation” indicating the main goal of the Committee - the liberation of the occupied state of Lithuania and restoration of its sovereignty.

At the end of the World War II, about 80 000 residents of Lithuania moved to the West. Avoiding returning to the occupied homeland, they were settled in camps of displaced persons, in Germany and Austria for the most part. Even living in difficult conditions, Lithuanian refugees celebrated national holidays devoting special attention to the 16th of February.

Commemoration of the 16th of February was a great opportunity to get together and to bring like-minded people together. This has become a part of preservation of Lithuanian identity abroad - the occasion was celebrated not only in official meeting, but also in families and among friends.

Official commemorations were attended by government representatives from abroad. On this occasion, the anthem of Lithuania and of the state, where the occasion was celebrated, was sung, also saying greeting speeches, holding masses and collecting donations for activities related to raising the issue of the Lithuanian occupation. The Chief of the Lithuanian Diplomatic Service played the main role organizing events to commemorate February 16th abroad. He coordinated the activities of the Lithuanian Diplomatic Service in the organization of commemoration events and delivered a greeting speech on the radio. The Lithuanian Central State Archives present a virtual exhibition “History of Commemoration Events of February 16th Abroad in 1940–1990” on the occasion of the day of restoration of the state of Lithuania.

Expositions of the exhibition include greetings of Lithuanian refugees in German and Austrian DP camps, foreign Lithuanian communities, organizations, societies and individuals to Lithuanian diplomats, programmes of February 16th commemoration events abroad and articles published in the US, Australia and Brazilian newspapers on this occasion, also presenting proclamations of US state authorities, which proclaimed the Day of the Republic of Lithuania in different states and cities of the US on the occasion of the 16th of February.

Pictures capturing moments from February 16th commemoration events in the USA, Switzerland, Italy and Finland, also video recordings of greeting speeches delivered by Lithuanian diplomats that were broadcasted by foreign radio stations are presented in the exhibition. Film shots from the commemoration event in Augsburg (Germany) DP camp and the performance of students of Lithuanian High School in Germany to commemorate the restoration of the state of Lithuania performed in 1984 are available to visitors.

Exhibition link: http://virtualios-parodos.archyvai.lt/lt/virtualios-parodos/34/vasario-16-osios-minejimu-uzsienyje-istorija-19401990-m./exh-23

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