Lithuania timeline

  • Second Millennium BC: Proto-Baltic peoples, ancestors of the Lithuanians, move to the Baltic coast.
  • 1009 AD: Lithuania first mentioned in Christian chronicles.
  • 12th-13th Century: German and Scandinavian crusaders invade Baltic region.
  • 1202-37: ‘Brothers of the Militia of Christ’ (Knights of the Sword) charged with conquering and converting the Balts. Their place then taken by the Teutonic Knights.
  • 1236: Lithuanians defeat Knights of the Sword at Šaule.
  • 1242: The Prince of Moscow, Alexander Nevsky, defeats Teutonic Knights on the ice of Lake Peipus and frustrates their attempts to advance inland.
  • 1263: Death of King Mindaugas, who unified Lithuanians and founded monarchy.
  • 1316-41: Reign of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (Gedymin), who conquers huge Slav territories to the east.
  • 1385: Union of Kreva (Krewo). Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila (Jagiello) marries Polish princess Jadwige, adopts Christianity. Through Polish Catholic Church, Lithuanian nobility rapidly Polonised.
  • 14th Century: First Jews settle in area of present Baltic States.
  • 1410: Crushing defeat of the Teutonic Knights by Lithuanians and Poles at Tannenberg (Zalgiris, Gruenwald).
  • 1558: Armies of Ivan the Terrible invade and devastate Baltic provinces. War with Russia continues until 1583 when Russians finally defeated by Swedes. Population falls by more than half.
  • 1569: Union of Lublin completes incorporation of Lithuania into Polish-dominated commonwealth.
  • 1714-80: Life of Kristijonas Donelaitis, author of The Seasons, the first great work of Lithuanian literature.
  • 1795: Third partition of Poland. The whole of present day Lithuania, except Memel (Klaipeda), falls into Russian hands.
  • 1798-1855: Life of great Polish-Lithuanian poet Adam Mickiewicz.
  • 1830 and 1863: Polish-Lithuanian revolts against Russian rule.
  • 1885: Beginning of intense Russification under Tsar Alexander III.
  • 1905: Revolution, accompanying that in Russia. In the Baltic, it was aimed principally at German Landowners and Russian police, hundreds of whom were killed. Thousands of Balts died in the repression that followed.
  • 1911: Birth of Nobel Prize-winning Polish-Lithuanian author, Czeslaw Milosz.
  • 1917: First and Second Russian Revolutions. Baltic national assemblies demand first autonomy, then independence from Russia. After ‘October Revolution’, Bolsheviks take over power in several areas of the Baltic.
  • 16 February 1918: Lithuanian independence proclaimed.
  • February-November 1918: Germans occupy the remainder of the Baltic provinces.
  • 1919-21: Poles, Lithuanians, and Bolsheviks struggle for the Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno) region, which eventually falls to Poland. Polish-Lithuanian relations broken off until 1936.
  • 1920-21: Baltic states sign peace treaties with Soviet Russia, in which Moscow recognizes their independence.
  • 1922:Introduction of democratic constitution in Lithuania.
  • 1922: Lithuania admitted to League of Nations.
  • 1923: Lithuania seizes Klaipeda (Memel) from Germany.
  • 1929: Beginning of world economic depression.
  • 1934: Co-operation Treaty between the three Baltic States. Practical co-operation however remained limited.
  • 1939: Germany seizes Klaipeda back from Lithuania.
  • 23 August 1939: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact provides for Soviet domination of Latvia and Estonia. Lithuania added to Soviet sphere in a later agreement.
  • 28 September-10 October 1939: The Soviet Union forces the Baltic States to sign defense co-operation agreements under which Soviet troops are stationed on their soil. Moscow give Vilnius, conquered from Poland, to Lithuania.
  • 17 June 1940: Soviet Union invades Baltic States, forces governments to resign, holds rigged ‘elections’.
  • 3-6 August 1940: Baltic States annexed to Soviet Union.
  • 14 June 1941: Tens of thousands of Balts arrested and deported to Siberia.
  • 22 June 1941: Germany attacks Soviet Union, Lithuanian resistance forces attack Soviet army. The uprising is accompanied by atrocities against the local Jewish population accused of collaborating with the Communists. Short-lived Lithuanian national government, soon dissolved by the Germans.
  • 28 August 1941: Complete withdraw of Soviet forces from Baltic States. Germans recruit local auxiliary police and SS units, which play leading role in Holocaust of the Jews. Jewish population herded into ghettoes or massacred.
  • 1944: With Soviet army once again threatening the Baltic States, tens of thousands of Balts join German forces to defend their homes.
  • July 1944: Jewish resistance in remnant of Vilna (Vilnius) Ghetto launches revolt and Ghetto is destroyed.
  • August 1944-May 1945: Soviet army reconquers Baltic States, destroys attempt to refound national governments. Hundreds of thousands of Balts flee to with Germans or across Baltic to Sweden. Their places taken by Russian-speaking immigrants and demobilized military personnel. Thereafter Russian-speaking element in population rises rapidly, though Lithuanian Communist leader Antanas Sniečkus succeeds in partially resisting this.
  • 1944-54: Partisan war by ‘Forest Brothers’. Tens of thousands killed on both sides.
  • 1947: Start of collectivization of agriculture. Traditional Baltic rural society crippled.
  • March 1949: Biggest wave of deportations. More than 100,000 Balts sent to Siberia and Central Asia.
  • 1953: Death of Stalin.
  • 1956-57: Beginning of Krushchev’s ‘Thaw’. Recovery of Baltic culture and literature.
  • 1965: Brezhnev ends limited economic autonomy for the republics, reimposes strict centralism.
  • 1970’s: ‘Era of Stagnation’. Living standards, having risen slowly but steadily in 1960s, level off and then begin to decline. Steep decline of belief in Communism, even in ranks of Party.
  • 1972: First publication of the Catholic dissident newsletter, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, detailing Soviet repression in the republic. Several of those responsible are subsequently arrested and jailed.1982: Death of Leonid Brezhnev. Andropov begins attempts at reform from above.
  • 1985: Appointment of Mikhail Gorbachev as Secretary-General of the Soviet Communist Party. Introduction of ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’. Beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.
  • April 1986: Chernobyl disaster gives massive impetus to ecological protest in Baltic States, and helps make that protest respectable in Soviet terms.
  • 14 November 1987: Lithuanian Artists’ Union dismisses the whole of its old-guard leadership.
  • 3 June 1988: Foundation of Sajŭdis in Lithuania.
  • 23 August 1988: Hundreds of thousands attend rallies to denounce Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
  • 19 October 1988: Replacement of Lithuanian First Secretary Songaila with Algirdas Arazauskas, formerly a state economics official.
  • 22-24 October 1988: First Congress of Sajŭdis. Vytautas Landsbergis elected chairman.
  • 18 May 1989: Lithuanian Supreme council passes declaration of sovereignty.
  • 23 August 1989: ‘Baltic Way’. Some two million people form human chain from Vilnius to Tallinn to call for independence.
  • 19-20 December 1989: Lithuanian communist party splits from Soviet party.
  • 11 March 1990: Lithuanian Supreme Council declares full independence. Vytautas Landsbergis elected chairman (head of state).
  • 17 March 1990: Kazimera Prunskene elected Prime Minister of Lithuania.
  • 29 June 1990: Lithuanian Supreme Counil accepts in principle a moratorium on the declaration of independence. Soviet economic blockade ends. Fruitless talks with Moscow begin.
  • 11 January 1991: Soviet Paratroopers seize the press center in Vilnius.
  • 13 January 1991: Soviet troops seize the television center and tower in Vilnius. Fifteen people shot to death or crushed by tanks.
  • 9 February 1991: Referendum for independence in Lithuania produces overwhelming majority for independence.
  • 23 May 1992: Landsbergis’ referendum on an executive presidency is defeated.
  • 25 October 1992: Brazauskas and former Communists gain sweeping majority in parliament.
  • 14 February 1993: Brazauskas elected Lithuanian President, beating the rightist candidate, Stasys Lozoraitis.
  • 1995: Two largest commercial banks collapse. Political scandal follows.
  • 1997: Border cooperation agreement signed with Russia.
  • 2000: Election results in centre-right coalition with Paksas maintaining post of Prime Minister.
  • January 2003: Rolandas Paksas is elected president.
  • May 2003: Referendum in favor of joining EU.
  • March 2004: Lithuania joins NATO.
  • May 2004: Lithuania joins EU.
  • June 2008: Parliament bans display of Soviet and Nazi symbols

 

[Compiled by Seth Lacy; sources: Anatol Lieven, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence (New Haven: Yale University Press); BBC News]

 

 

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