Lithuanization (sometimes also called Lithuanianization) is a process
of cultural assimilation—either forced or voluntary—adoption of
Lithuanian culture or language experienced by non-Lithuanian people or
groups of people.
2 Modern Lithuania
3 Notes and references
4 See also
Map of the Polish population in
Lithuania on the basis of elections to
the parliament of
Lithuania in 1923, censuses in 1921 and elections to
the Polish parliament in 1922,
In the early Middle Ages the consolidation of Baltic lands by the
Lithuania led to gradual
Lithuanization and subsequent
assimilation of neighboring Baltic tribes or their parts, including
the Selonians, Jotvingians,
Curonians who shared
religious, cultural, and linguistic similarities with the
The Lithuanian annexation of Ruthenian lands between the 13th and 15th
centuries was accompanied by some Lithuanization. A large part of the
Grand Duchy of
Lithuania remained Ruthenian, since due to a religious,
linguistic and cultural dissimilarity there was less assimilation
between the ruling nobility of the pagan
Lithuanians and the conquered
Orthodox Eastern Slavs. Moreover, following the military and
diplomatic expansion of the Grand Duchy into the Ruthenian and Russian
lands, local leaders retained a significant autonomy that limited the
amalgamation of cultures. Even when some localities received the
Gediminid leaders, the Lithuanian higher nobility in the
Ruthenian lands largely embraced the Slavic customs and Orthodox
Christianity and became indistinguishable from a larger Ruthenian
nobility resulting in the two cultures merging to the extent that much
of the upper class of
Ruthenians merged into
Lithuanian nobility and
began to call themselves
Lithuanians gente Rutenus natione
Lituanus(Litviny), yet spoke the Ruthenian language In
the effect of the processes, Lithuanian higher nobility became largely
Ruthenian, while the nobility in the ethnic
Lithuania and Samogitia
continued to use their native Lithuanian language. The adapted Old
Church Slavonic and later the Ruthenian language, acquired a status of
a main chancery language in the local matters and relations with other
Orthodox principalities as lingua franca, and Latin was used in
relations with the Western Europe. This notion however had been
gradually reversed by the
Lithuania occurring since
15th century and then the
Russification of the lands of the former
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 19th century and early 20th
A notable example of
Lithuanization was the 19th century replacement
of Jews (many of them Lithuanian Jews, but also Polish Jews), until
then the largest ethnic group among the burghers in the major towns of
Lithuania, with ethnic
Lithuanians migrating there from the
countryside. As such, the process of
Lithuanization was mostly
demographic and not institutionalized. It was not until Lithuania
became an independent state in the effect of
World War I
World War I that the
Lithuania turned it into a more institutionalized
It was also around that time that the re-established Lithuanian state
started aiming at cultural and linguistic assimilation of other large
groups of non-Lithuanian citizens, mainly Poles and Germans. At
first, the Lithuanian government was democratic and protected cultural
traditions of different ethnic groups. In 1917, the resolution adopted
Vilnius Conference promised national minorities cultural
World War I
World War I ended, the Council of Lithuania, the
legislative branch of the government, was expanded to include Jewish
and Belarusian representatives. The first governments of Lithuania
included Ministries for Jewish and Belarusian affairs; however
Vilnius region was detached from
Lithuania in a staged
rebellion commanded by
Lucjan Żeligowski (see Republic of Central
Lithuania) the largest communities of Belarusians, Jews, and Poles
ended up outside of Lithuania. As a result, the special ministries
were closed. In 1920 the Jewish community was granted national and
cultural autonomy with the right to legislate binding ordinances;
however partly due to internal fights between
Hebrew and Yiddish
groups, the project was terminated in 1924. Afterwards, the Jews
were increasingly marginalized and alienated by the "
Lithuania established its independence and nationalistic attitudes
strengthened, the state sought to increase the use of Lithuanian
language in public life. Among the measures taken by the
Lithuanian government was a forced
Lithuanization of non-Lithuanian
names. The largest minority school network was operated by Jewish
community. In 1919 there were 49, in 1923 – 107, in 1928 – 144
Jewish grammar schools. In 1931, in part due to consolidations,
the number of schools decreased to 115 and remained stable until
At the beginning of 1920
Lithuania had 20
Polish language schools for
the Polish minority in Lithuania. The number increased to 30 in 1923,
but then fell down to 24 in 1926. The major reason for the
decrease was the policy of
Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party which
transferred students whose parents had "Lithuania" as their
nationality in the passport to Lithuanian schools. After the party
lost control, the number of schools jumped to 91. Soon after the coup
d'état in 1926, nationalists came to power led by Antanas Smetona.
The nationalists made the decision to forbid attendance of Polish
schools by Lithuania. Children from mixed families were also forced to
attend Lithuanian schools. Many Poles in
Lithuania were signed in as
Lithuanians in their passports, and as a result they also were forced
to attend Lithuanian schools. The number of Polish schools gradually
decreased to 9 in 1940. In 1936 a new law was passed that allowed
a student to attend Polish school only if both parents were Poles.
The situation resulted in the opening of unsanctioned schools that
numbered more than 40 in 1935 and were largely sponsored by
"Pochodnia" Association. A similar situation developed with
regard to German schools in the Klaipėda region.
An Anti-Polish cartoon published during the interbellum
The Lithuanian attitudes towards ethnic Poles were in large part an
effect of the idea to treat them as supposedly native Lithuanians, who
Polonized over the course of the last centuries and needed to be
brought back to their "true identity". Another major
factor was tense relationship between
Lithuania and Poland over the
Vilnius region and cultural or educational restrictions on Lithuanians
there; for example, in 1927, chairman of "Rytas," Lithuanian minority
in Poland counterpart to "Pochodnia," and 15 teachers were temporary
arrested and 47 schools closed.
While the constitution of the Republic of
Lithuania guaranteed equal
rights to all confessions, Orthodox believers were discriminated
against - the Lithuanian state decided to confiscate Orthodox
churches. Some, but not all, of these had previously been converted
from Catholic churches. Former
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Catholic Churches were
confiscated as well, for example the Kruonis Orthodox church. Thirteen
Orthodox churches were demolished.
Another target group for discrimination were the Poles. Anti-Polish
attitudes had appeared since the Lithuanian National Revival. While in
some respects the Lithuanian nationalist movement was positive, over
time it became aggressive and intolerant against Poles and
chauvinistic against everything Polish. Such attitudes became
common. Nationalistic Lithuanian catholic priests, so-called
Litwomans, were pushing
Lithuanian language everywhere, instead of the
Polish which in many places had been used for centuries in church
service. Anti-Polish propaganda was sponsored by the Lithuanian
state. During the interbellum lots of caricatures and proclamations
were published attacking Poles and showing them as criminals or
Main article: Poles in Lithuania
In modern Lithuania, independent since the fall of the Soviet Union,
Lithuanization is not an official state policy, but it is advocated by
some extremist groups like Vilnija, whose activities cause an
occasional tension in Polish-Lithuanian relations. The
Lithuanization promoted cooperation of Polish and Russian minorities
who support the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania.
The state forces a
Lithuanization of surnames and enforces the removal
of Polish or bilingual street signs, including those on private
property. A Polish-Lithuanian woman protested when her last name
Wardyn was Lithuanized to Vardyn.  In 2014 Šalčininkai district
municipality administrative director Bolesław Daszkiewicz was fined
about 12 500 Euro for failure to execute a court ruling to remove
Lithuanian-Polish street signs. Lucyna Kotłowska was fined about
Bilingual Polish schools in
Lithuania striked in September 2015.
The strike was organised by Electoral Action of Poles in
Notes and references
^ Orest Subtelny Ukraine. A History. Second edition, 1994. p. 70
^ Bumblauskas, Alfredas. "Globalizacija yra unifikacija". alfa.lt (in
Lithuanian). Missing or empty url= (help)
^ Marshall Cavendish, "The Peoples of Europe", Benchmark Books, 2002
^ Jerzy Lukowski; Hubert Zawadzki (2001). A Concise History of Poland.
Cambridge University Press. pp. 33–45.
^ Serhii Plokhy (2006). The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern
Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. pp. 109–111. ISBN 0-521-86403-8.
^ "The son of Gediminas, the Grand Prince Olgerd [(Algirdas)] expanded
the Ruthenian lands he inherited from his father: he attached the
Polish lands to his state expelling the Tatars out. The Ruthenian
lands under his sovereignty were divided between princes. However,
Olgerd, the person of a strong character, controlled them. In Kiev, he
installed his son, Vladimir, who started the new line of Kiev princes
that reigned there for over a century and called commonly the
Olelkoviches, from Olelko, Aleksandr Vladimirovich, the grand-son of
Olgerd. Olgerd himself, married twice the Ruthenian princesses,
allowed his sons to baptize into Ruthenian religion and, as the
Ruthenian Chronicles speak, had himself baptized and died as a monk.
As such, the princes that replaced the St. Vladimir's [Rurikid] line
in Ruthenia, became as Ruthenian by religion and by the ethnicity they
adopted, as the princes of the line that preceded them. The Lithuanian
state was called Lithuania, but of course it was purely Ruthenian and
would have remained Ruthenian if only the successor of Olgerd in the
Great Princehood, the Jagiello wouldn't have married in 1386 to the
Polish queen Jadwiga"
(in Russian) Nikolay Kostomarov, Russian History in Biographies of its
main figures, section Knyaz Kostantin Konstantinovich Ostrozhsky
(Konstanty Wasyl Ostrogski)
^ a b "Within the [Lithuanian] Grand Duchy, the Ruthenian lands
initially retained considerable autonomy. The pagan Lithuanians
themselves were increasingly converting to Orthodoxy and assimilating
into Ruthenian culture. The grand duchy's administrative practices and
legal system drew heavily on Slavic customs, and Ruthenian became the
official state language. Direct Polish rule in Ukraine since the 1340s
and for two centuries thereafter was limited to Galicia. There,
changes in such areas as administration, law, and land tenure
proceeded more rapidly than in Ukrainian territories under Lithuania.
Lithuania itself was soon drawn into the orbit of Poland."
from Ukraine. (2006). In Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ (in Lithuanian)
Zigmas Zinkevičius The Problem of a Slavonic
Language as a Chancery Language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
^ Kevin O'Connor, The History of the Baltic States, Greenwood Press,
ISBN 0-313-32355-0, Google Print, p.58
^ Conference on Jewish Relations (corporate author) (1939). "Jewish
social studies". Jewish Social Studies. Indiana University Press.
^ Ezra Mendelsohn (1983). The Jews of East Central Europe Between the
World Wars. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
pp. 225–230. ISBN 0-253-20418-6.
^ István Deák (2001). "Holocaust in Other Lands - A Ghetto in
Lithuania". Essays on Hitler's Europe. Lincoln, Nebraska: University
of Nebraska Press. pp. 119–122. ISBN 0-8032-1716-1.
^ various authors (1994). James Stuart Olson, ed. An Ethnohistorical
Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires. Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press. p. 258. ISBN 0-313-27497-5.
^ Laučka, Juozas (1984). "Lithuania's Struggle for Survival
1795-1917". Lituanus. 30 (4). Retrieved 2007-02-11.
^ Skirius, Juozas (2002). "Vokietija ir Lietuvos nepriklausomybė".
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Elektroninės leidybos namai. ISBN 9986-9216-9-4. Archived from
the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2007-01-28.
^ Banavičius, Algirdas (1991). 111 Lietuvos valstybės 1918-1940
politikos veikėjų (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Knyga. pp. 11–20.
^ a b c d e f g Šetkus, Benediktas (2002). "Tautinės mažumos
Lietuvoje". Gimtoji istorija. Nuo 7 iki 12 klasės (in Lithuanian).
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Archived from the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2007-02-11.
^ Vardys, Vytas Stanley; Judith B. Sedaitis (1997). Lithuania: The
Rebel Nation. Westview Series on the Post-Soviet Republics.
WestviewPress. p. 39. ISBN 0-8133-1839-4.
^ Eli Lederhendler, Jews, Catholics, and the burden of history, Oxford
University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-530491-8, Google Print,
^ a b c Eidintas, Alfonsas; Vytautas Žalys; Alfred Erich Senn
(September 1999). Ed. Edvardas Tuskenis, ed.
Lithuania in European
Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918-1940 (Paperback ed.).
New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 133–137.
^ Valdis O. Lumans (1993). "
Lithuania and the Memelland". Himmler's
Auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle and the German National
Minorities of Europe. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
pp. 90–93. ISBN 0-8078-2066-0.
^ SILVA POCYTĖ, DIDLIETUVIAI: AN EXAMPLE OF COMMITTEE OF LITHUANIAN
ORGANIZATIONS ACTIVITIES (1934–1939) Archived 2007-09-27 at the
^ Edgar Packard Dean, Again the Memel Question, Foreign Affairs, Vol.
13, No. 4 (Jul., 1935), pp. 695-697
^ a b Dovile Budryte (2005). Taming Nationalism?: Political Community
Building in the Post-Soviet Baltic States. Aldershot: Ashgate
Publishing. pp. 147–148. ISBN 0-7546-3757-3.
^ Jerzy Żenkiewicz (2001). Ziemiaństwo polskie w Republice
Litewskiej w okresie międzywojennym (Polish Landowners in the
Lithuania Between the Wars) (in Polish). Toruń.
^ Zenon Krajewski (1998). Polacy w Republice Litewskiej 1918-1940
(Poles in the Lithuanian Republic) (in Polish). Lublin: Ośrodek
Studiów Polonijnych i Społecznych PZKS. p. 100.
Krzysztof Buchowski (1999). Polacy w niepodległym państwie
litewskim 1918-1940 (Poles in the Independent Lithuanian State) (in
Polish). Białystok: History Institute of the University of
Białystok. p. 320. ISBN 83-87881-06-6.
^ Kulikauskienė, Lina (2002). "Švietimo, mokslo draugijos ir
komisijos". Gimtoji istorija. Nuo 7 iki 12 klasės (in Lithuanian).
Vilnius: Elektroninės leidybos namai. ISBN 9986-9216-9-4.
Archived from the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2007-02-11.
^ Regina Laukaitytė (2001). "Lietuvos stačiatikių bažnyčia
1918-1940 m.: kova dėl cerkvių (Orthodoxy in
Lithuania between 1918
and 1940: The struggle for Orthodox churches)" (PDF). Lituanistica (in
Lithuanian). 2: 15–53. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
^ a b c Eugeniusz Römer (2001). ""Apie lietuvių ir lenkų santykius"
translated from "Zdziejów Romeriow na Litwie. Pasmo czynnośći
ciągem lat idące..."". Lietuvos Bajoras (in Lithuanian). 5: 18–20.
Retrieved 2007-12-17. Tas lietuviškas pasipriešinimas ir agresyvumas
bei tolerancijos stoka lenkų kultūros ir bendrapiliečių,
kalbančių lenkiškai sukėlė pasiprieinimą. Reikia pridurti, kad
pradžioje, kai lietuvių visuomenė dar nebuvo taip taip
susisluoksniavusi, šio judėjimo nušvietimas spaudoje įgaudavo
šovinistinës neapykantos viskam kas lenkiška pobūdį.
^ Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (October 2006). ""Antypolski
tekst K. Garsvy" (Anti-Polish text by K. Garsva)". Commentary on
K.Garsva article "Kiedy na Wileńszczyźnie będzie wprowadzone
zarządzanie bezpośrednie? (When
Vilnius region will have direct
self-government?)" in Lietuvos Aidas, 11 -12.10". Media zagraniczne o
Polsce (Foreign Media on Poland) (in Polish). XV (200/37062).
^ Paweł Cieplak. "Polsko-litewskie stosunki (Polish-Lithuanian
Portal (in Polish). Archived from the original
on 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2007-01-13.
^ Leonardas Vilkas, LITEWSKA, ŁOTEWSKA I ESTOŃSKA DROGA DO
NIEPODLEGŁOŚCI I DEMOKRACJI: PRÓBA PORÓWNANIA (Lithuanian, Latvian
and Estonian Way to Independence: An Attempt to Compare, on homepage
of Jerzy Targalski
^ "Kara powyżej 40 tys. litów za dwujęzyczne tabliczki". Retrieved
25 April 2015.
^ "Kolejna grzywna za tabliczki. Nie ma nowego "rekordu"..." Retrieved
25 April 2015.
^ More than 90 percent of Polish schools in
Lithuania took part in the
^ "LLRA rengs lenkiškų ir rusiškų mokyklų streiką" (in
Lithuanian). 15min.lt. August 28, 2015. Retrieved February 18,
Magyarization or hungarization
Romanization or latinization