The Info List - Antanas Merkys

Antanas Merkys
Antanas Merkys
( pronunciation (help·info); 1 February 1887 – 5 March 1955) was the last Prime Minister of independent Lithuania, serving from November 1939 to June 1940. When the Soviet Union presented an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding that it accept a Soviet garrison, President Antanas Smetona
Antanas Smetona
fled the country leaving Merkys as acting president. Merkys ostensibly cooperated with the Soviets, and illegally took over the presidency in his own right. After three days, Merkys handed power to Justas Paleckis, who formed the People's Government of Lithuania. When Merkys attempted to flee the country, he was captured and deported to the interior of Russia, where he died in 1955.


1 Biography 2 Soviet ultimatum and occupation 3 See also 4 References


A. Merkys in 1921

Merkys was born at Bajorai, near Skapiškis. Educated in law, he served in the Russian Army during World War I
World War I
(1914–18). In 1919, he served as the newly independent Lithuania's Minister of Defence before serving with the Lithuanian Army until his decommissioning in 1922. He then practised as a lawyer. After the Klaipėda Revolt
Klaipėda Revolt
of 1923, Merkys became secretary to the Klaipėda Region
Klaipėda Region
Commissioner, Antanas Smetona. Following the 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état, he became Minister of Defence again until 1927, when he was made Governor of Klaipėda Region. In 1932, German demands prompted his removal as Governor and Merkys returned to practising law.[1] He became Mayor of Kaunas
in 1933 and served in this position until 1939.[2] In 1936 was elected to the Fourth Seimas of Lithuania. On 17 November 1939 he became Prime Minister. Soviet ultimatum and occupation[edit] When, on 14 June 1940, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
presented an ultimatum to Lithuania, Smetona proposed armed resistance. Merkys suggested accepting the ultimatum and offered to resign as Prime Minister, but he temporarily remained in office. Merkys agreed to Soviet demands that Smetona be arrested, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Rather than accept the demands, Smetona fled to Germany and then to Switzerland. Before leaving the country, he symbolically turned over his presidential duties to Merkys. Under the Constitution of 1938, the prime minister served as acting president whenever the president was unable to carry out his duties. The day after Smetona's departure, Merkys announced on national radio that he had removed Smetona and was now president in his own right. This violated the Lithuanian constitution, since Smetona never formally resigned. As such, Merkys is not recognized as a legitimate president in Lithuanian government records.[3] On 17 June 1940 Merkys acceded to more Soviet demands--a) dispatch police to arrest Skučas and Povilaitis near the Lithuanian border [4] and b) appointing Justas Paleckis
Justas Paleckis
as the new Prime Minister. Merkys resigned later that day, making Paleckis acting president as well. The Soviets then used Paleckis as a puppet to provide the ostensibly legal sanction for its annexation of Lithuania a month later. When Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
in 1990, it took the line that since Merkys' seizure of the presidency was illegal, all actions leading up to Lithuania's annexation by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
later that year were ipso facto void. Therefore, Lithuania contended that it did not need to follow the secession process outlined in the Soviet Constitution, since it was reasserting an independence that still existed under international law. A month later Merkys attempted to escape to Sweden, but was arrested in Riga. He and his family were deported to Saratov
in Russia. In 1941 Merkys was imprisoned. In 1954, during the period of de-Stalinization, Merkys was released from prison, but not allowed to return to Lithuania. He lived in Vladimir until his death the following year, on 5 March 1955. Subsequently, his grave could not be located, but a symbolic cenotaph dedicated to Merkys' memory is in the Petrašiūnai Cemetery in Kaunas.[2] See also[edit]

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Prime Minister of Lithuania List of rulers of Lithuania


^ "Antanas Merkys" (in Lithuanian). Seimas. 3 November 2003.  ^ a b "Antanas Merkys". Žymūs Kauno žmonės: atminimo įamžinimas (in Lithuanian). Kauno apskrities viešoji biblioteka. 2004.  ^ "Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania". Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania.  ^ Wiki Kazys Skucas

Preceded by Jonas Černius Prime Minister of Lithuania 21 November 1939 – 17 June 1940 Succeeded by Juozas Ambrazevičius

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Prime Ministers of Lithuania


Augustinas Voldemaras Mykolas Sleževičius Pranas Dovydaitis Mykolas Sleževičius Ernestas Galvanauskas Kazys Grinius Ernestas Galvanauskas Antanas Tumėnas Vytautas Petrulis Leonas Bistras Mykolas Sleževičius Augustinas Voldemaras Juozas Tūbelis Vladas Mironas Jonas Černius Antanas Merkys

Lithuanian SSR

Mečislovas Gedvilas Motiejus Šumauskas Juozas Maniušis Ringaudas Songaila Vytautas Sakalauskas

since 1990

Kazimira Prunskienė Albertas Šimėnas Gediminas Vagnorius Aleksandras Abišala Bronislovas Lubys Adolfas Šleževičius Laurynas Stankevičius Gediminas Vagnorius Irena Degutienė Rolandas Paksas Irena Degutienė Andrius Kubilius Rolandas Paksas Eugenijus Gentvilas Algirdas Brazauskas Zigmantas Balčytis Gediminas Kirkilas Andrius Kubilius Algirdas Butkevičius Saulius Skvernelis

Italics indicate acting Prime Ministers

v t e

Leaders of Lithuania since 1919

Presidents (1919–1940)

Antanas Smetona Aleksandras Stulginskis Kazys Grinius Jonas Staugaitis Aleksandras Stulginskis Antanas Smetona Antanas Merkys1 Justas Paleckis1 Jonas Žemaitis4

LKP First Secretaries2

Antanas Sniečkus Petras Griškevičius Ringaudas Songaila Algirdas Brazauskas

Presidents (since 1990)

Vytautas Landsbergis3 Algirdas Brazauskas Valdas Adamkus Rolandas Paksas Artūras Paulauskas Valdas Adamkus Dalia Grybauskaitė

1 Not recognized as a legitimate president 2 De facto heads of state; de jure heads of state were Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR 3 Was head of state, but not recognized as president 4 Posthumously recognized in March 2009 Italics denote ac