Maik Müller: Let´s celebrate freedom – Report from Lithuanian Independence Day
DRESDEN / VILNIUS. On March 11, Lithuania celebrated its liberation from Communist foreign rule and tyranny in 1990. Already on February 16, the southernmost of the three Baltic countries celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence. Official representatives of the Young Nationalists also took part in the celebrations.
Europe as we know it today is young, an eye-catching only in the millennia-deep history of our continent. Above all, the disintegration of the great empires of Austria-Hungary and the Russian Tsarist Empire at the end of the First World War, the renewed secession of the German Reich after 1945, and the wars in and around former Yugoslavia marked the state reorganization of Europe. In addition to Finland, which celebrated its independence from tsarist Russia on December 6 of last year, a number of other European states are celebrating the centenary of their (regained) statehood this year. In addition to Poland, these are above all the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are repeatedly present in the media because of their extremely open attitude towards NATO and the stationing of their troops on the eastern flank of their immediate sphere of influence. Also in Lithuania since 2017, a 1200 -strong NATO task force, the so-called NATO battle group Lithuania, stationed. Trigger for controversial discussions, especially among nationalists. However, to understand these connections, it is worth taking a look at the history of the country, which can be exemplary for the entire Baltic region, but also beyond.
Lithuania’s first declaration of independence took place on 16 February 1918. In 1940, occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union, the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was installed and affiliated with the Union of Soviet Republics. From 1941 to 1944, initially in the German sphere of influence, the Red Army recaptured the country. Once again, the SSR was put into effect. Only in the course of the general collapse of the Eastern Bloc at the end of the 20th century did Lithuania gain its independence for the second time in March 1990. Especially in those years, the Lithuanian people went with the prohibition of language, writing and culture, the deportation of millions of Lithuanians in Soviet penal camps, torture and murder unbelievable suffering by the communist tyranny, in which also is hidden the key to understanding the ongoing rejection today its eastern neighbor Russia and the consequent need for protection by NATO in the self-image of those countries. This ordeal can be traced impressively in the Genocide Museum of the former KGB complex with its prison, torture and execution cells, on whose outer walls the names of many victims are engraved and on the forecourt a monument in honor of the victims of the Soviet occupation. The upheavals at the end of the 1990s were preceded by the peaceful liberation struggle of the Baltic peoples against the Soviet grip, which went down in history as the “Singing Revolution”. Already on March 20, 1989, the flag of the Lithuanian SSR was replaced again by the traditional tricolor, whose colors symbolize the gold of the warming sun, the lush green of the deep forests and the red of the blood-soaked heroic sacrifice of the freedom struggle. On August 23, 1989, the longest known human chain took place with around 2.5 million people and a length of 600 kilometers. The “Baltic Route” passed through the Baltics and reached from Vilnius in Lithuania to Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia. The process culminated on March 11, 1990, when Lithuania was the first of the Baltic states to declare its independence from the USSR.
When the attempt of the Soviets failed to prevent the liberation efforts by a large-scale commodity blockade between April and May 1990, Michael Gorbatschow called the provisional head of state of Lithuania to recognize the Soviet constitution and thus to renounce the independence. On January 13, 1991, known today as “Vilnius Blood Sunday,” the situation escalated. In the peaceful and unarmed attempt to protect strategically important issues such as the seat of government and the television tower, fourteen people were killed. They were overrun or shot by Soviet tanks. More than one thousand others were injured. The memory of all these victims is indelibly branded in the collective memory of the Lithuanian people, the 11th of March since those days of non-working national holiday. Independently of the official celebrations, nationalist organizations have been organizing a march on the occasion of the liberation of their homeland since 2009. This year, up to 2,000 people gathered for the event and, speaking like “Lietuva Lietuviams!” (Lithuania to the Lithuanians!), they walked from the Katedros Square from the statue of Grand Duke and cityfounder Gediminas, inaugurated in 1996, along the Gediminas Prospectus, a main road decorated in national colors, to the KGB complex, where the final rally took place. Countless Lithuanian national flags wafted over their heads, people dressed in the colors of their country, laughing faces. Again and again there were folk songs in which hundreds joined in. A counter-protest did not actually take place.
Speakers at the closing rally, including the Saxon State Chairman of the JN and head of the BAK Europe, Maik Müller, included Audrius Budrys, a signatory to the March 11 law, economist and vice-chairman of the Lithuanian List in the Vilnius City Council; Dr. Liutauras Stoškus, member of the initiative group of the independence movement “Sąjūdis”; Dr. Romas Pakalnis, scientist; Yuri Noievyj, member of the Political Council of the Ukrainian “Swoboda”; Arsenii Belodub, member of the “Right Sector”; Oleg Petrenko, member of the “National Corps” and member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and Mikalaj Statkewitsch, Belarussian presidential candidate in 2010, member of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Narodnaya Hramada” and chairman of the coalition “Belarussian National Congress”. The event ended with the singing of the national anthem. Some cultural excursions rounded off the program. So our activists visited the water castle Trakai, which was built in the second half of the 14th century and houses a state museum with impressive exhibits inside. They also visited the 326 meter high television tower, at the foot of which Soviet tanks rolled over peaceful demonstrators, people died in a hail of bullets. Dedicated to an exhibition inside the radio tower, which became a silent witness to the bloody events of January 13, 1991. Likewise the historical old town with all its churches, old buildings and narrow streets, the university, the presidential palace and that balcony, from which on 16 February 1918 the independence of Lithuania was proclaimed, are worth a visit. The Lithuanian people, who have preserved their deep-rooted culture over many years of Soviet occupation and prohibition, have largely been spared some years ago by the blessings of the so-called Western civilizers. Of these, the deep love of the homeland and solidarity of this Baltic people testify impressively to their ancient traditions. Will this remain so in the future? Lithuania has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004. On January 1, 2015, it joined the euro zone. Global retail chains such as IKEA and LIDL are sprouting up everywhere, the minimum wage is currently at 2.45 euros, with only Bulgaria behind, and NATO uses the country and its historical founded fears as a staging area in its new Cold War against Russia. With hope and confidence, we wish the Lithuanian people a lot of strength and strive to even that hour in which we can call again: “Švęskime Laisvę” – Let’s celebrate freedom!
Author is official representative of Junge Nationalisten (JN)