On 16 February 2018, Lithuania will celebrate 100 years since the signing of its Act of Independence. Here are 7 quick facts to get you in the know:
1. The Act of Independence created the Lithuanian state as we know it today. It marked the will of the Lithuanian people to create their own democratically run country.
2. At the time of the Act’s signing, Lithuania was under the rule of the German Empire, which occupied it during the World War I.
3. The Act was signed by 20 Lithuanians, known as the Council of Lithuania. Two of the Act’s signatories – Antanas Smetona and Aleksandras Stulginskis – were later elected presidents of Lithuania, in 1919 and 1922, respectively.
4. The Act of Independence was signed in Vilnius, on Pilies Street 26. In this building, now known as the House of Signatories, the original of the Act of Independence is open for the public viewing since January 21st.
5. To spread the news about the signing of the Act, its text was printed in the Lithuanian daily newspaper Lietuvos Aidas. At the time of its publication, the German authorities declared the dissemination of the Act illegal and any copy of it that was found was seized. However, around 60 copies were preserved by one of the signatories – Petras Klimas.
6. The original Act of Independence of Lithuania was well hidden: it surfaced in the archive of Germany’s Foreign Affairs’ Ministry in 2017, just in time for the Centennial celebration.
7. To know more about the Centennial and its events, head to www.lietuva.lt/100/en.