LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 42, No.4 - Winter 1996
Editor of this issue: Dalia Kučėnas
Copyright © 1996 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
FROM AUSZRA TO THE GREAT WAR:
THE EMERGENCE OF THE LITHUANIAN NATION
A. S. STRAŽAS*
In 1883 the first more important Lithuanian newspapers appeared.** Under the conditions of the press ban, they were published in East Prussia and the United States (wherever there were larger gatherings of immigrants). The most important publications were Auszra (1883-1886), Varpas (1889-1905) and the associated Ūkininkas (1890-1905) which were published in East Prussia and smuggled into Lithuania. Auszra was a monthly published in Ragainė and Tilsit. Its publishers formed a group of nationally motivated Lithuanians known as the "Aušra Group" (aušrininkai). The circulation of the first of forty issues was a thousand. Dr. Jonas Basanavičius formulated the program of the journal. It had no clear political demands but raised the idea of Lithuanian nationalism and outlined measures to strengthen and broaden national consciousness. These measures included the popularization of national history, the collection and publication of folklore and ethnographic materials, explanations of scientific achievements and most important, the development of the Lithuanian language and the broadening of its use in society. The Auszra program emphasized that the journal had a purely secular nature.95 This was significant during a period when, despite the growing numbers of Lithuanian priests, the Polish clergy still predominated and made attempts to keep the Lithuanians within the world of Polish culture.
On the other hand, in its very first issue Auszra showed political moderation by emphasizing its loyalty to the government. Like the Russian peasant, the journal placed its hopes in the accession of a "good Tsar" to the throne. It was even said that the new Tsar Alexander III (1881-1894) would restore the freedom to publish Lithuanian books in the Latin alphabet.96 However, such hopes were naive. Under the tutelage of the reactionary Konstantin Pobedonostsev (1827-1907), Alexander III instituted a reactionary policy including increased suppression of Russia's nationalities.
One of the great achievements of Auszra was the propagation of new Lithuanian literary works which appeared on its pages and some of which became classics. The great Lithuanian poet and historian Jonas Mačiulis (1862-1932), known as Maironis, as well as the writer Vincas Kudirka and the publicist Jonas Mačys-Kėkštas (1867-1902) began their work in Auszra. Also, the previously unpublished works of other writers such as Dionyzas Poška, Simonas Stanevičius and Antanas Baranauskas were now presented. Auszra encouraged the use of a standard Lithuanian literary language based on the dialect of the western aukštaičiai.
While, in the opinion of its publishers, Auszra was to be a purely cultural journal, its fight for the legalization of the Lithuanian press and its secret distribution in Lithuania were elements of the struggle against Tsarism and, thus, were a step in accepting the idea of a Lithuanian political struggle.
By contrast, the newspaper Varpas openly proclaimed itself "a newspaper of literature, politics and science." The editorial of the first issue called everyone to rally to the national cause and struggle against the "inexplicable [Lithuanian] attraction to other nations." It also suggested a theme of the "nation in danger," pointing to a struggle against Tsarism and for better conditions for national development. Varpas announced that "our situation is far worse than that of the Jews and Tatars," who, at least, were able to publish their own newspapers and maintain schools.97 At the same time Varpas attempted to lead the national movement out of a narrow religious framework and spread objective, scientific ideas. This paper reflected the popular, peasant origins of the national movement and developed an increasingly democratic character. This was especially evident in the abundant literature and literary criticism. The newspaper's contributors included a number of noted writers, linguists and folklorists of a democratic and national persuasion such as Vincas Kudirka, the writer Gabrielė Petkevičiūtė-Bitė (1861-1943), the writers Žemaitė (Julija Žymantienė 1845-1921), Lazdynų Pelėda (Sofija Pšibiliauskienė 1867-1906). All of them proved popular among the people.
The quality of Varpas' literary language developed further in the struggle against the press ban. The so-called "Literary Commission" was active at the turn of the century: it included the famous linguist Jonas Jablonskis, the writer and jurist from Užnemunė Antanas Kriščiukaitis (pseud. Aišbė; 1864-1933), and many others. Together with Varpas, this Commission accomplished a good deal in improving and regulating the language, as well as in facilitating the transition from the Polish-Latin alphabet to the modern Lithuanian script. In 1890 the publishers of Varpas established a separate newspaper for the peasants Ūkininkas, which came out in Tilsit between 1890 and 1905. Aside from the criticism of the Tsarist administration and religious fanaticism, this paper singled out economic problems which afflicted the farmers. The realistic literature in Ūkininkas also contributed in making it a favorite among the peasant masses.98
There is little doubt that these secular newspapers played a much more important role in politicizing the Lithuanian masses than the religious publications: Šviesa, 1887-1890; Žemaičių ir Lietuvos Apžvalga, 1890-1896; Tėvynės Sargas, 1890-1896, and others. The latter propagated obedience to the authorities.
The Illegal Distribution of the Lithuanian Press and German-Russian Relations
The Russian government sought the support of Germany in suppressing the flow of Lithuanian publications from East Prussia to Lithuania. The Justice Minister's report "On the Cases of State Crimes in 1897" mentioned the determination of Wilhelm II "in contributing to the destruction of the aforementioned [Lithuanian] propaganda."99 However, in actual fact, these contacts with the Germans on this issue provided no results. Only the Russian police and gendarmerie proved an obstacle to the Lithuanian press. In fact, the banned press left East Prussia virtually unhindered. This was partly the result of the fact that German-Russian relations deteriorated after the Congress of Berlin in 1878.100 On the other hand, the Lithuanian press issue did not become a serious problem in the relations between the two empires. This can be partly explained by the anti-Polish nature of the Lithuanian national movement which supplemented the policies of Russia and Germany. In fact, efforts to "digest" the partitioned Polish lands played a certain role in stabilizing relations among all three major Eastern powers: Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary. In general, raising the "Lithuanian question" and thus thrusting this problem onto the international scene could serve no useful purpose to either Germany or Russia. This was an especially dangerous issue for Russia which occupied most of the strategically important Lithuanian lands.
It should be added that, at the same time when the Lithuanians began to distance themselves from the Poles (after 1863), the Prussian government also began a policy of suppressing Lithuanian culture in Lithuania Minor. The striving for a Prussian-dominated "Lesser Germany" without the Austrian lands was accompanied by an attempt to create a nationally homogenous German state. The policy of Germanization provoked particularly sharp conflict with the Poles of Poznania. The governments of Prussia and Germany succeeded in exploiting the Lithuanian movement against the Poles while, at the same time, restricting the development of Lithuanian culture. This success was facilitated by the fact that a common religion made East Prussia's Lithuanians less distinctive from the German majority.
The Ethnic and Social Circumstances of the Lithuanian National Revival
Of the many historical conditions which defined the development of the Lithuanian national movement during the last quarter of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, two are especially noteworthy. One was the fact that along with the Lithuanians, Lithuania contained nationalities and ethnic groups whose national interests did not coincide with the goals of the Lithuanian national movement. The 1897 census showed that the Grodno gubernia contained only 2.1% Lithuanians. Taken together, this admittedly somewhat tendentious census revealed that the gubernias of Vilnius, Kaunas and Suwalki did not contain a Lithuanian majority. In Vilnius gubernia the Lithuanians made up barely 17.58% of all inhabitants; the figure was 20.96% for Vilnius and its environs. Even in Kaunas and Suwalki gubernias, where the Lithuanians formed a majority, other nationalities made up a substantial percentage. In 1897 Kaunas gubernia registered 1,019,800 Lithuanians or 66.02% of the population; more than a half-million others included 212,000 Jews, 139,600 Poles and 72,900 Russians. In Suwalki gubernia Lithuanians made up 52.24% of all inhabitants; however, subtracting the two overwhelmingly non-Lithuanian districts of Suwalki and Augustow, this percentage rose to 72.14%. The Lithuanian districts included 39,400 Jews, 33,000 Poles, 26,500 Germans and 12,500 Russians.101 These non-Lithuanian groups, especially the Jews, made up the majority of the urban inhabitants. The elite of the rural population, i.e. the landowners, government officials and the clergy, were made up of Poles, Russians and, partly, Germans. The ethnic distribution of the population corresponded, to a great degree, with the prevailing social stratification, a circumstance which sharpened both social and national conflicts to such an extent that, at times, it was difficult to distinguish one from the other.
The second important historical factor conditioning the development of the Lithuanian national movement was the fact that the ethnically Lithuanian society resembled a pyramid without a top. Most of the aristocracy had been Polonized. The middle social strata were made up predominantly of non-Lithuanians. The Lithuanians also made up a small minority of the working class, not only because they were attached to agriculture, but the predominantly non-Lithuanian owners of enterprises tended to hire their own nationals. The Lithuanian percentage was high among those engaged in agriculture and village industries.
The Jews occupied a prominent place in industry and the crafts. They were not allowed to live or own property in the villages (Užnemunė was a partial exception). Of 111 industrial enterprises in the towns of Vilnius gubernia exceeding 1,000 rubles in production, the Jews owned 95. The Jews also dominated commerce and the crafts. There was sharp competition between Jewish and Gentile (predominantly Polish) craftsmen. The Poles, Russians and Germans were also prominent in Lithuania's economy.102
The industrial working class was predominantly non-Lithuanian: here too the Jews were the most prominent. The prevalence of numerous Jewish workers in Vilnius drove wages to a low level.103 Understandably, such a situation did not attract village labor to the cities. While most of Lithuanian industry went to the local market, some production, particularly the various Kaunas metal industries, went to the all-Russian market, including the Caucasus and Siberia.104 This meant that Lithuania's industrialists and workers, particularly the Jews, developed close ties to their cohorts in other areas of Russia. This served to integrate these social groups and Lithuania's economy with the rest of the Empire.105
The Jews and the Lithuanian National Movement at the End of the Nineteenth Century
In 1897 the Jews made up more than a fourth of the inhabitants of the Kaunas, Vilnius and Suwalki gubernias. The Jewish and Lithuanian social structures were quite different and it seemed as if one could complement the other.106 The common struggle for democratization, the deteriorating relations of both groups with the Poles, and the common suffering under Tsarism were conditions that should have brought both groups together. For a while, such a rapprochement was observable, particularly in the struggle against the press ban. However, the general historical tendency was in the opposite direction. There are many reasons for this, but two general circumstances can be formulated. First of all, a secular political and cultural Jewish national movement arose concurrently with the Lithuanian one. Two main currents formed within this movement: the Zionist trend which advocated a return to the Holy Land, and the "Volkish" or Populist trend which struggled for political equality and, later, national autonomy within the Diaspora. The emergence of a Jewish national movement helped initiate an attitude of indifference towards the Lithuanian national movement among the majority of the Jews. This indifference was also common to the "Populist" current since the latter was active in all of the gubernias where Jews were allowed to settle, as well as Lithuania.107
The second circumstance affecting Jewish-Lithuanian relations was the tactic of Lithuanian leaders who sought to establish an urban Lithuanian social class. The lists of national activists available in historical literature show that only between 8% and 10.5% of them came from merchants and craftsmen.108 This percentage was probably even smaller if one counted the largely nameless village populace active in the national movement. In view of Polish hostility and Jewish indifference to the Lithuanian national movement, Lithuanian writers and the publishers of Varpas, Auszra and other periodicals attempted to create a Lithuanian urban presence through nationalist writings which were propagated by such noted figures as the poet Vincas Kudirka.109 Since the Jews predominated in industry, commerce and the crafts, this nationalist propaganda at times acquired a chauvinistic flavor. Kudirka, who savagely satirized the Tsarist administration in such works as Viršininkai [The Bosses] and Vilkai [The Wolves}, utilized material from the writings of the anti-Semitic Governor General I. Kakhanov.
Bishop Motiejus Valančius, known in Lithuanian national literature as the "great pillar of national rebirth," urged the peasants who were well off to take up commerce and the crafts in the towns. In his widely read Paaugusių žmonių knygelė [The Little Book for Grown-Ups] published in 1864, Valančius wrote a section on the Jews in which he warned "the villagers to be wary of all exploiters and thieves" as well as "Gypsies, Hungarians and quacks."110 In this book Valančius named many criminal acts which, in his opinion, the Jews never performed. However, the listing of alleged Jewish frauds and crimes (the burning of Christian homes and stores, Jewish denunciations of Christians to the authorities, an organized campaign to impoverish Christian businesses) probably inculcated some of the naive readers with a hatred of the Jews. It is pointless to discuss whether Valančius or Kudirka had anti-Semitic views.111 The fact that the Jews were convinced that they did, and that nothing was done to change this opinion, was instrumental in alienating them from the Lithuanian national movement. Thus, Polish hostility and Jewish indifference led to an isolation of the Lithuanian movement from the non-Lithuanians who made up a large proportion of the population in the Lithuanian gubernias. However, one must concede a certain moderation to the Lithuanian people which was characteristic of a cultured society. There is virtually no evidence of Lithuanian peasant violence against the Jews, something that cannot be said of the other ethnic groups in the Lithuanian gubernias.
The Fragmentation of the Lithuanian National Movement and the Appearance of Political Parties
The general social and political contradictions within the Russian Empire affected both Lithuania and the Lithuanian national movement. The very first Lithuanian political group formed in 1882 under the name of "The Lovers of Lithuania" experienced contradictions which concerned not only local problems of the national movement, but more general questions as well. This grouping, generally known as the aušrininkai (named after Auszra which was their publication), was made up of people who came from various peasant classes. However, this group soon experienced various ideological and tactical conflicts: while some sought compromises with the Tsarist Administration, the proponents of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the clergy, others took up extreme and even revolutionary political positions.112 One of the radicals was the controversial Jonas Šliūpas who after 1884 became known as an activist and nationalist organizer in the United States. His atheistic views and relations with the Polish Proletariat and the Russian Narodnaya Volya strengthened the radical wing of the Lithuanian movement since it deepened the gulf between the Lithuanians and the Polonized Catholic Church. Among the other aušrininkai who were influenced by revolutionary ideas was the poet J. Andziulaitis-Kalnėnas (1864-1916) who edited the last issues of Auszra in 1883 and later emigrated to the United States.113 The Lithuanian involvement in the political struggles affecting the Russian Empire weakened and fragmented the Auszra movement. In addition to this, there were personal conflicts among the Lithuanians of East Prussia who published Auszra. These factors led to the decline and disappearance of the aušrininkai movement.
Even more serious political conflicts among the Lithuanian nationalists became evident during the Varpas and Ūkininkas period.114 The so-called varpininkai were active during a more critical time (1889-1905) in Russian history which ended with the Russo-Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905.
Despite attempts to engender unity, serious ideological conflicts erupted within the Varpas movement. The attempt to strengthen the struggle against Tsarism and its policy of national oppression, and the fight for equal rights for Lithuanians in the economic, social and political sphere and even for social reform met with resistance from some of the more moderate clergy (such as P. Bučys, A. Burba, A. Milukas, J. Tumas and others). Vincas Kudirka and other secular nationalists condemned the Pope's indifference to the Kražiai events of 1894 causing the clergy to withdraw from the varpininkai, thus creating serious financial difficulties in publishing Varpas and Ūkininkas. After this the influence of the "Moscow Lithuanian Students' Association" grew, reflected in growing sympathy for the revolutionary and socialist movements. Such sympathies were especially evident in the person of Stasys Matulaitis (1866-1956) who graduated the Moscow University Medical Faculty in 1891 and later became a noted historian, publicist and writer, joining the Communist Party in 1917.115 There were more such radical leftists in the Varpas movement including Vincas Mickevicius-Kapsukas, the founder of the Lithuanian Communist Party in 1918, who had worked in the editorial office of Ūkininkas in 1901 and 1902.
Moderate democrats such as Petras Leonas, Motiejus Lozoraitis and J. Bagdonas were more prominent among the varpininkai; however, some of them, for example, Lozoraitis also brought forth social demands, including the abolition of the manorial monopoly on land, the amelioration of the conditions of the smallholders and landless peasants and improvement in the conditions of the workers. Some of the democrats were more or less influenced by socialist ideas.
As the social and political conflicts within the Russian Empire grew in intensity at the beginning of the twentieth century, it became impossible for the various ideological factions to coexist within the framework of the Varpas movement. At this time the influence within the organization passed from the former Moscow students to a group of Vilnius intelligentsia. This faction sought to limit the varpininkai to the struggle for national freedom and for a greater national consciousness without excessive involvement in the social and political issues of the Russian Empire. However, even this group contained members (P. Višinskis, J. Šaulys, and others) who stressed the necessity for constitutional reforms and some limited social reforms within the Empire. For this purpose, they viewed as necessary cooperation with the democratic forces of all Russia.
This political differentiation weakened the Lithuanian national movement and slowed its transition to a struggle for autonomy and independence. The varpininkai organization became a greenhouse which produced activists of many political persuasions. The well-known members, J. Bagdonas and Kazys Grinius, participated in the first conference of the Lithuanian Social Democrats in Vilnius on May 1, 1896. Other participants included Stasys Matulaitis, then still a member of the Varpas editorial board. Felix Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926), the future head of the Cheka who lived primarily in Vilnius and Kaunas from 1887 to 1890, participated as a representative of the youth wing. The latter "internationalist" group joined the fledgling Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania in 1900. But the socialists continued their ideological discussions which revolved around the roles of nationality and revolution. Bagdonas and Grinius sought to maintain Lithuanian Social Democracy within a national framework, but as these discussions grew more acrimonious, the more revolutionary elements, Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas, and the writer and publicist Jonas Biliūnas (1879-1907), along with some of their cohorts, withdrew from the Varpas organization in 1902.116
The further political development of the Lithuanian national movement was reflected in the Varpas conference of 1902. Here the varpininkai took on the name of the Lithuanian Democratic Party (the LDP). The conference program pointed out that the party's immediate goal was Lithuanian autonomy within the Russian Empire, while its final goal was an independent republic. This was the first document prepared by Lithuanian activists which proclaimed the idea of the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state.
The Revolution of 1905 further deepened the political differentiation within the Lithuanian movement. The Catholic clergy and laity began to join the political struggle. A number of clergy who had withdrawn from the varpininkai in 1895 such as Pranas Bučys, the writer Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas (1869-1933), the poet Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis, Aleksandras Dambrauskas-Jakštas (1860-1938) and others organized the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party.
Thus, at the turn of the century the Lithuanian national movement gradually divided itself into political parties.
The Abolition of the Press Ban
In 1904 the first result of the Lithuanian national struggle appeared: the ban on the Lithuanian press was abolished.117
The Lithuanian language had long been an object of interest to scholars. The well-known philologist from Prague, August Schleicher (1821-1868) created the "tree" of Indo-European languages and this work led him to a study of Lithuanian. Schleicher's work aroused interest among Russian scholars and his edition of Donelaitis's works was published by the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences. As a result of his work, Schleicher became convinced that the Polish-Latin alphabet was unsuitable for Lithuanian and improved it. While Tsar Alexander II was unhappy with Russian academics for evading the press ban, Russian scholars came to oppose it.118
In the end, the absurdity of the press ban became apparent to Russian publicists and statesmen. Even the ardent Slavophile Ivan Aksakov (1823-1886) wrote in the April 15th, 1884 issue of Rus' that there was no sense in trying to force an alien alphabet on an unwilling people.119 The Governor General of Vilnius Piotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky (1857-1914) admitted the collapse of the policy of persecuting the Lithuanian press. In his report for 1902 and 1903 Sviatopolk-Mirsky wrote: "That is entirely understandable. Literature has never been created by government. It develops together with the general spiritual growth of a nation since literature depends entirely on society..." Soon after, on February 29, 1904, the Minister of the Interior Viacheslav Plehve suggested to the Cabinet that the press ban be revoked and the Lithuanians be allowed to use "the Latin or any other alphabet in addition to the Russian one." The Tsar approved Plehve's recommendation on April 24, 1904.120 Thus, the press ban was abolished. However, it left deep imprints in Lithuanian history.
The press ban initiated and developed the Lithuanian-Russian conflict, the Lithuanians' "struggle for their Church and their alphabet."121 The Lithuanian-Polish and Lithuanian-Russian conflicts formed the essential framework within which Lithuanian national consciousness developed. This was important for the Lithuanian movement at a time when the upper social strata were still, in a national sense, quite underdeveloped. Another important factor was the publication of Lithuanian writings in East Prussia where it was free of Tsarist censorship. A significant part of the illegal press was published in the United States where it was influenced by democratic ideas. This situation reinforced the popularity of democracy, which complemented the predominantly peasant Lithuanian social structure. In addition, the press ban stimulated attempts to find a new and better form of the Latin alphabet for the Lithuanian language. This led to the development of a new Lithuanian alphabet on the Czech example, as well as the modernization of the Lithuanian literary language.122
The most important event in the history of the Lithuanian nation in the period between 1863 and 1904 was the emergence, development and political maturation of the national movement. This young movement was forced to carry out its work on two fronts: (1) the struggle for the society's political and cultural freedom from Polish influence and the development of Lithuanian national consciousness among Lithuanians themselves; (2) the struggle against Tsarist oppression, particularly in the field of culture. During the course of the national struggle political consciousness matured. As a result, the major parties such as the Social Democrats and the LDP expressed their goals in terms of autonomy and, finally, independence. The abolition of the press ban in 1904 was an important milestone in the Lithuanians' struggle to achieve a place commensurate with that of Russia's other nations.
The Social and Political Development of Lithuania from 1905 to 1917
The Years 1905 and 1906 in Lithuania
The strong revolutionary movement that arose in Lithuania during 1905 and 1906 emerged against the background of the revolutionary wave that swept most of Russia. This democratic revolution grew out of the prolonged struggle which had gained strength in the Empire's towns and villages long before 1905 and which, increasingly, had acquired a political character. It became the struggle of a modern society fighting against an outmoded autocracy. The defeat against Japan became the catalyst for the revolution. On July 14, 1905 V. K. Plehve, the Interior Minister, was assassinated and replaced by Piotr Danilovich Sviatopolk-Mirsky, who sought to avoid revolution with the help of some liberal reforms.123 However, this "period of trust" as well as the career of the liberal Interior Minister came to an end with the notorious Bloody Sunday, when a peaceful mass of demonstrators, who sought to petition the Tsar was gunned down by troops on January 9, 1905.124
The revolutionary events in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Empire's industrial centers strengthened the revolutionary movement in Lithuania. However, the movement in Lithuania developed in different ways owing to the fact that the social and national groups of the country attached differing hopes to the revolution. The specific social and cultural heritage of the Lithuanians gave the Revolution of 1905 a peculiar local character quite different from that in neighboring Latvia.
First of all, there was a clear difference between the way the revolution developed in the towns, where the Lithuanians were a minority, and the villages, where they made up the overwhelming majority.
The urban middle classes, as well as the workers and craftsmen, proceeded in a similar fashion as did their counterparts in the rest of Russia: they raised virtually the same political and social demands (with the partial exception of the Jewish workers who demanded some form of national autonomy). The rural areas reflected specific Lithuanian national interests.125
The Polish Socialist Party (PPS) exercised considerable influence among the workers of Užnemunė. Meanwhile, the very small stratum of the Lithuanian middle class in the towns, made up mainly of the intelligentsia and the free professionals, had only recently emerged from the peasantry to which it was ideologically tied; as a rule, the majority supported the idea of Lithuanian autonomy.
The very first socialist groups in Lithuania were led by non-Lithuanians who sought to turn the Lithuanian socialist movement into a part of the all-Russian socialist movement without the raising of specific national demands: this was termed internationalism.126 Aside from the Lithuanian Social Democratic Leader Doctor Andrius Domaševičius (1865-1935), who later became the most famous founder and leader of the LSDP, groups were led by Felix Dzerzhinsky, the Russian officers Ivan Klopov and Eugene Sponti, Konstantin Yeremeyev and Leo Jogiches-Tyska (1867-1919) who later became a figure in the German Revolution and one of the organizers of the German Communist Party.127 These men sought to inject the spirit of internationalism into the fledgling Lithuanian Social Democratic movement; at the same time, however, historical developments presented the Lithuanians with the problem of national solidarity as the most important task. With all of these circumstances in mind, it can be said that the predominantly non-Lithuanian working class developed during the Revolution of 1905 "in close contact with the revolutionary movement of the entire Russian proletariat."128
In its proclamations, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party stressed the demand for autonomy within a future democratic Russia.129 This is reflected in the LSDP's Central Committee Manifesto of September 1905. The introduction to the manifesto demanded the nationalization of all means of production, raised the slogan "workers of the world unite," and even raised the demand for socialism "in the entire world." But this short introduction was followed by two long sections which concerned only Lithuanian affairs. The first section announced the organization of a Constituent Assembly in Vilnius and pointed out the Social Democratic platform in some detail. The latter in essence was a program for a democratic republic. The sixteenth paragraph stated that the diet and the government would have to rule Lithuania "completely autonomously." Only one sentence stated that Lithuania would join "of its own free will" a single federated democratic republic. The text of the manifesto clearly shows that the "maximalist" statements in the introduction were only a sop to the radicals, while the LSDP's real purpose was a free, democratic Lithuanian republic.
With the spread of the strike movement, a united Strike Committee was established in September 1905 which included the representative of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP), the Bolshevik A. Palchik, and the representatives of the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania and the Bund. While they were invited, the representatives of the LSDP did not join the committee. This also proves that despite the pressure of the socialist internationalists, not only the nationalist Lithuanian Democratic Party but the leadership of the LSDP as well (Kairys, Janulaitis and others) sought "as their first objective Lithuania's separation from Russia." In other words, this was the striving for independence.130
The LSDP and the LDP represented the Lithuanian nation whose majority lived not in the larger urban centers, but in the smaller settlements and villages. In light of these facts it becomes apparent why non-Lithuanians were prominent in the major revolutionary disturbances of October and December 1905.131
However, it should be noted that the Lithuanian villages were also engulfed by disturbances in 1905. The agricultural landless workers were especially active. According to some sources, there were over 250 workers' strikes in the summer of 1905. At times the peasant and landless workers' disturbances were closely tied to the urban workers' strikes as, for example, in Šiauliai District. As their first priority the peasant revolutionaries abolished local Russian government and dismissed Russian officials and teachers. Lithuanians were selected in their stead. The struggle took on a violent character and often culminated in bloody and sometimes fatal clashes with the police and army.132
The local Russian administration considered economic grievances as the root cause of the peasant disturbances; thus, they sought to halt the movement by making economic concessions.133 Along with these, the Tsarist authorities attempted to exploit the religious feelings of the populace. During the time of Leo XIII, the Church sought better relations with Germany (despite the Kulturkapf) and Russia, even declaring in 1898 that the Tsar was the powerful and "sole" representative of secular authority. The policy of Pius X (1903-1914) was similar. It must be assumed that the Vatican was consulted before Msgr. Juozapas Antanavičius, the administrator of the Seinai (Sejny) Diocese, issued his famous circular to the clergy of Užnemunė on 10 July 1905: it demanded that the faithful be urged to halt revolutionary actions and struggle against the purveyors of revolutionary propaganda.134 While this circular did not touch on the question of Lithuanian autonomy, which was raised with particular fervor in Užnemunė, and only strictly forbade the destruction of local Russian authority, it offended the populace. When a priest in Marijampolė began a sermon about "the riots of the Lithuanian: inhabitants" on July 17, open protest broke out among the faithful: everyone left the church shouting revolutionary slogans.135 However, a stricter anti-revolutionary attitude was observed only among the senior clergy such as Antanavičius, the Bishop of Samogitia, Mečislovas Paliulionis, and Edward Ropp, the Bishop of Vilnius. Much of the rank-and-file Lithuanian clergy (for example, Tumas-Vaižgantas, Father Vincas Aleksandravičius, St. Sakelė, J. Vyšniauskas and others), while advocating various tactics, supported the revolution against Tsarism for an autonomous and democratic Lithuania.136
The Great Assembly of Vilnius
In October of 1905 the wave of political strikes which had engulfed the large Russian cities reached Lithuania. Large masses of working people and petty merchants struck in Lithuania's cities, especially Vilnius. On October 15th the workers and employees of the electrical station and the Berlin gas works struck in Vilnius. On the following day they were joined by 3,000 railroad workers, thus paralyzing communications. During the clashes of October 16th and 17th twenty-four demonstrators were killed on the streets of Vilnius and 132 were injured, many seriously. The funerals of the dead strikers were turned into massive demonstrations in which thousands participated. Strikes also engulfed Kaunas, Šiauliai, Ukmergė and other Lithuanian cities.137
Faced with these events, the Tsar issued his Manifesto on October 17: it promised "to grant the inhabitants firm foundations for civil liberties" which were to be worked out by a Duma (or parliament) elected by all the citizens.138
The Manifesto did not mention the strivings of the suppressed nations and promised nothing to the national movements. The revolutionary internationalist socialists who sought profound social changes were also dissatisfied. Thus, the Manifesto did not achieve its primary aim of quieting the populace and halting the revolutionary struggle. "The Manifesto has been met with suspicion," reported A. Freze, the Governor-General of Vilnius, "It has not brought tranquility among the people..."139
Although there were no concessions to the national movement, the nationalist leaders sought to exploit the Tsarist Manifesto. They decided to call together Lithuanian representatives from all regions and social classes to a large assembly in Vilnius. The purpose was to formulate the goals of the Lithuanian national movement and to define the general direction of its various currents. The initiative came from Jonas Basanavičius and a group of activists who clustered around the Lithuanian daily, Vilniaus žinios (The Vilnius News) which was published by the non-partisan engineer Petras Vileišis.140 On October 19 an organizational committee, chaired by Basanavičius, was established. Over 2,000 delegates eventually arrived to participate in the gathering which was convened on November 21 and 22, and which became known as the Great Assembly of Vilnius. The Governor-General agreed with the idea of the gathering since he believed that the non-partisan intelligentsia which had organized it would encourage moderation among the participants. Representatives from East Prussia (Lithuania Minor) were also invited which, considering the growing hostility between Germany and Russia, gave the gathering an international aspect.141
The Resolutions of the "Great Assembly of Vilnius"
After some energetic quarrels Jonas Basanavičius, as a non-party representative, was elected to chair the assembly. The presidium also included the Social Democrat Kairys, Antanas Smetona of the Lithuanian Democratic Party, Pranas Bučys of the fledgling Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party and Juozas Stankūnas as the peasant representative.142 The assembly organizers hoped to limit the agenda to questions of Lithuanian autonomy, culture and education. However, there was a considerable number of extremist elements who sought to exploit the assembly to achieve revolutionary and internationalist goals. These efforts were partially reflected in the text of the resolutions. For example, the first part contained statements that "the present Tsarist government is our most implacable enemy," and that, for this reason it is necessary "to educate ourselves, unite and enter the struggle together with the people of all the nations of Russia." In retrospect, these statements seem somewhat artificial. Later sections contained the outlines of a future autonomous Lithuania. It was pointed out that it should consist of ethnographic Lithuania (including the "Lithuanians of Suwalki gubernia") as a core, and those borderlands which for economic "or other reasons are attracted to the core." The fourth section stressed the need to give the Lithuanian language a dominant place in institutions, schools and the Lithuanian churches.
Under the conditions of a new revolutionary wave in the Lithuanian towns, the basically moderate and national tone of the Assembly's resolutions could not satisfy the radical Social Democrats. While energetic, they were, however, a minority and could not affect the results of the Great Assembly. Thus, after the conclusion of the former assembly, they convened a separate meeting of "the village workers and peasants of Kaunas, Suwalki and Vilnius gubernias," which was chaired by the future head of the Lithuanian Communist Party, Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas. The resolution of the latter meeting stated that "Lithuania should unite with its neighbors into one republic ruled by the people," and stressed that such a democratic republic should provide appropriate conditions for the struggle for socialism," a struggle understood in a militant sense. According to government reports the radical campaign was quite effective among the village working people.143
The High Point of the Revolution
The revolutionary struggle in Lithuania reached its high point after the Great Assembly and the radical meeting that followed. Again, the dual nature of this struggle became apparent. Internationalist and socialist themes predominated in the towns, while, in the villages, the struggle was characterized by national revolutionary motifs. As Lithuania's district chiefs reported in a conference at the governor's office, these districts were "in a complete state of anarchy," and that the "movement...had set as its goal the struggle for Lithuanian autonomy." The governor's circular of November 24th (Old StyleA.S.) noted that "the antigovernment movement noticed earlier has become a revolutionary fire, which has acquired a mass character."144
Immediately following the Great Assembly of Vilnius, and the leftist Social Democratic meeting that followed, the struggle intensified in the villages throughout Lithuania. This struggle was characterized by the destruction of local Russian authority and the election of new, Lithuanian local organs. Russian courts, school teachers and officials were dismissed and the police disarmed. Government correspondence was conducted in Lithuanian, Lithuanian teachers replaced Russian ones, and Lithuanian was introduced as the language of instruction.145
The administration of the Russian gubernias also broke down. The chief of gendarmerie in Vilnius gubernia reported on November 28, 1905 that no real authority remained in the gubernia, even at the top. "Governor Count Palen has left on three months' vacation after the October 16th incident (and rumor has it that he does not intend to return). Acting Vice-Governor Bezobrazov, having requested permission to resign, is constantly anxious because he is being held in his post, and lately, when he received a telegram from the Interior Minister...for the arrest of certain persons...took ill and handed over the governor's duties to a person who basically has nothing to do with ruling the gubernia. The Governor-General left for St. Petersburg on November 24th for an indefinite period."146
The Decline of the Revolution
In most of the more remote areas of Lithuania, the local government was dismissed through revolutionary action and replaced with a new, Lithuanian authority. There were instances when Russian military units would restore the old order, only to have native Lithuanian rule return when the troops left. However, there was no central national authority which could offer leadership in the formation of local national organs of government. The impressive Great Assembly of Vilnius, which had accepted the resolution on Lithuanian autonomy, did not create such a central authority. It only raised the question, but its goals could only have been achieved with the victory of a democratic revolution throughout Russia. Thus, it is understandable that, with the defeat of the Moscow rebellion and the decline of the revolutionary forces, the movement in Lithuania also began to fade.147 Although the struggle continued, it constantly grew weaker, and instead of armed insurrection, the movement took on political, parliamentary forms of struggle.
The First State Duma
With the announcement of the Tsar's October Manifesto, preparations were made for the elections to the so-called State Duma. However, the electoral law of December 11th, which preserved Bulygin's system of curias, disappointed much of the Russian public. The elections were indirect and only men over 25 could vote - there was no universal suffrage, and the whole system favored the propertied classes. While the Duma was given legislative authority, it was severely restricted.148 The Tsar was left with virtually absolute power, which was exercised solely through his own appointed ministers. He had sole control over foreign policy, the army and the navy. Furthermore, as if in response to the demands of the Lithuanians and other non-Russians for autonomy, the new edition of the "Basic Laws of the State" stressed the unity and integrity of the Russian Empire, and the role of Russian as the only common and state language. Thus, the role of the Duma in nationality affairs was also greatly restricted: little could be expected from it. Of the 478 elected deputies, the largest faction was that of the so-called Constitutional Democrats (Cadets) who also exercised influence on the 105 non-party deputies. The second largest group was the Work Party (Trudoviki): they represented the peasants and pro-peasant intelligentsia who adhered to a "Narodnik" philosophy. Their most important demands were land redistribution and the equality of classes and nationalities. The smallest group after the Social Democrats was the right-wing liberals, the so-called Octobrists. While deputies often went from one group to another, the so-called autonomusts (the Lithuanians, Poles, Ukrainians, Latvians and Estonians) constituted a substantial group of 63 deputies.
In this Duma, the Lithuanians were represented by seven deputies. The workers and a part of the village socialists were not represented since they boycotted the elections. Vilnius gubernia elected six deputies (three landowners, two peasants and one burgher) - all Poles (including Bishop E. von Ropp). Kaunas gubernia elected five Lithuanians and one Jew, Leiba Bramson, who supported the Lithuanian program. Two Lithuanians were elected from Suwalki gubernia.149
During its 72 days of existence, the State Duma was immersed in long speeches and deliberations which reflected the enthusiasm and great hopes associated with the beginnings of Russian parliamentarism. However, the major real work of the Duma involved the discussion of agrarian land reform, which reflected virtually all of Russia's social and national conflicts and complexities. For example, while the Lithuanians defended the interests of the peasants and claimed that autonomy was a necessary condition for land reform in Lithuania, Lithuania's Polish deputies resisted most such reform ideas.150 The First Duma did not discuss the question of autonomy as such. The rights of Russia's nationalities were reflected in a proposed law that envisioned the equality of all citizens before the law, regardless of religion and nationality.
In the end, the work of the Duma proved fruitless. On July 9th the Tsar dismissed the Duma, accusing it of overstepping its authority. However, it should be noted that the Duma left its imprint on Lithuanian history: it served as an arena for raising the issue of autonomy.
After the dissolution of the Duma, two hundred of its members met in Vyborg (Viipuri), Finland where they issued a proclamation ("From the Representatives of the People to the People"), which protested the dissolution of the Duma and called on all Russian citizens "to give not a single kopeck to the treasury, and not a single soldier to the army." Four deputies from Lithuania signed the proclamation, which was translated and distributed in Lithuania, where it was received with enthusiasm among many ordinary people and soldiers.
With the dissolution of the Duma and the agrarian question unresolved, a new wave of revolution struck the country. The landless peasants and smallholders continued their struggle against the Tsar and the landowners. The large landowners hired armed guards and paid for military units to defend their estates.151 However, foreign loans, particularly from France, strengthened the regime and allowed the Tsar to energetically suppress the movement.
The Second State Duma.
Prime Minister Piotr Stolypin (1862-1911), well-known for his anti-peasant actions as Governor of Saratov, orchestrated the harsh repression. Stolypin was well-acquainted with Lithuania: In 1899 he became the head of the nobles of Kaunas gubernia, and in 1902 served as Governor of Grodno. Stolypin expected to overcome Russia's internal difficulties by maneuvering between various social classes and by combining repression with certain reforms. Thus, the Stolypin government organized elections to the Second Duma; however, despite all attempts to narrow the electorate's social base, the makeup of the Second Duma proved even more radical than that of the First.152
In Vilnius gubernia, the Polish landowners managed a deal with the peasants to assure themselves four seats in the new Duma. All the delegates from Vilnius gubernia supported the Polish program.153 In Kaunas Gubernia, the landowners gained only one seat. As a result of mutual cooperation, the peasants gained five seats, while the urban Jews received one. In Suwalki gubernia all the peasant representatives were Lithuanians. Here the deputies were both lawyers: Andrius Bulota, a "Trudovik," and P. Leonas who joined the Cadets. The Lithuanian Social Democrats elected to the Duma proved more decisive in their demands for autonomy than much of the Lithuanian intelligentsia. One of the most active proponents of Lithuanian autonomy was P. Leonas.154
The Duma's first deputies put forth various proposals in their discussions of the land reform. However, the speeches of the Lithuanian deputies were unique in that they repeatedly emphasized the question of Lithuanian autonomy and stressed the political resolutions of the Great Assembly of Vilnius. In this way, the Lithuanian question took its place among Russia's other political issues, particularly dealing with nationalities. This was an important step in the struggle for Lithuanian autonomy.
At the same time, the Stolypin regime conspired to suppress the Duma's democratic and socialist deputies. This was accomplished by means of a provocation during which the Social Democrats were accused of preparing a military coup. The government arrested the SDs and on June 3rd dissolved the Second State Duma. This act put an end to the parliamentary illusions of most progressive Russians.
The Significance of the Revolutions for Lithuania
The democratic revolution in Russia was thus suppressed: the frightened democratic forces became disoriented and a part of them were corrupted by the regime. However, in retrospect, Stolypin's regime caused great harm to the Russian state system. The breakdown of the democratic movement opened the way for extremist forces which then claimed to represent the real interests of the people. This circumstance in large part decided the outcome of the 1917 Revolution.
In Lithuania, the Revolution developed along the two parallel tracks already mentioned above: the predominantly non-Lithuanian urban areas, and the Lithuanian-speaking countryside, where national issues predominated. The national consciousness of the peasantry was deepened, rather than stifled, by the suppression of the evolutionary movement. As many of Lithuania's Social Democrats moved closer to the Bolsheviks, the Party lost support among the Lithuanian peasantry. This development was made apparent at the end of 1918 in Vilnius when the Bolshevik government found no support among the peasant masses. It was also important to raise the issue of Lithuanian autonomy in an ail-Russian forum. Before the Revolution, most Russians, even among the politically acute, had not really accepted the existence of the Lithuanian people as a separate nation: the Lithuanians were simply confused with the other Catholics of the Empire. The Revolution showed that the Lithuanians had won a distinct place among the other nationalities of Russia. The further development of Lithuanian political and cultural life enhanced the achievements of the Revolution of 1905-1907 and, in fact, paved the way for the eventual creation of an independent, democratic Lithuanian republic.
Stolypin's Agrarian Reform and Its Results in Lithuania
The Revolution of 1905-1907 disappointed many elements of Russian society which had differing views on the future of the Russian village commune. For its part, the Tsar's government sought to create for itself a new social base from among the well-to-do peasant farmers. To accomplish this was the aim of the so-called Stolypin Reform. Thus, the government put an end to the fruitless discussions on the agrarian question in the Duma and began to transform the village on its own initiative. The Tsar's decree on November 9th, 1906 and the law passed by the Third Duma on June 14th 1910 were the basis for the reform. The reform provided for the consolidation of the scattered strips of arable land which made Russian agriculture so backward, and the resettlement of some of the peasantry. The latter policy was used not only to populate remote regions, but was also intended to serve the policy of Russification. In general, the reform partially modernized Russian peasant agriculture and created some conditions for capitalist development in the village.155
Lithuania did not possess a tradition of communal land ownership and the peasants' attachment to their property was stronger than in Russia. However, since the sixteenth-century agrarian reform of Sigismund Augustus (the so-called "Valakas" or "Volok" Reform), there existed compact villages with the arable land located in strips outside the village. The Stolypin Reform manifested itself in Lithuania by the consolidation of scattered strips into unified peasant farms. It was decreed that if a village majority of two-thirds decided to consolidate the land into individual homesteads, the decision would be binding on everyone. Between 1907 and the First World War 2,154 villages in Vilnius and Kaunas gubernias were separated into individual homesteads, although the agrarian commissions had received three times as many applications. The whole process of land consolidation was accompanied by conflict between the smallholders and the surveyors.
While the land consolidation process was, on the whole, an improvement over traditional forms of land tenure, it caused some temporary negative economic phenomena. For example, in Kaunas gubernia, the number of domestic animals fell as a result of the reforms.156 However, in Lithuania, the class of peasant farmers who were able now to better define their property and to establish themselves in individual homesteads became an important social base of the Lithuanian national movement.
The Third Duma
After the Tsarist "coup" of June 3rd, 1907, preparations were begun for a Third Duma. The law of June 3rd sought to drastically change the makeup of the Duma in favor of the wealthier classes.157 The nobility along with the wealthier urban population made up 51.8% of the Duma's deputies. The Octobrists, thus, now formed a kind of center in the assembly. They allied themselves with the Cadets to pass necessary reforms, but in opposing deeper reforms, they worked with the moderate conservatives. The new electoral law hindered the election of Lithuanian peasant deputies. Still, in Kaunas gubernia the Lithuanian and Jewish slate managed to elect three Lithuanians (Pranas Kuzma, a worker, and the peasants J. Požėla and Pr. Kainys) and an urban Jew (Naftali Fridman) to the Duma. The landowners elected the Pole K. Zawisa. In Suwalki Andrius Bulota was reelected.158
The harsh suppression of the Revolution, the policy of Russification, the spread of chauvinistic attitudes among the Russian population and other factors prevented the Lithuanian deputies from raising the issue of Lithuanian autonomy in a unified way. The government's policy was hostile to the national minorities. Aside from the agrarian question, the issue of Finland's autonomy, which the government sought to subvert, occupied a prominent place in the Third Duma. The fight for democracy in Finland raised the hopes of Russia's minorities, but it also frightened the Tsar and Russia's reactionary forces. The Stolypin regime made every effort to restrict Finnish autonomy.
Under such conditions, the government did not even want to allow the northwestern gubernias to participate in the elections for local home rule (the zemstvos), making it even more difficult for the Lithuanian deputies to organize the struggle for autonomy. However, the three Lithuanian deputies from Kaunas gubernia managed to find a forum to stress problems unique to Lithuania. Deputy Bulota vigorously defended the Finns, and stressed the importance of Lithuanian national issues, including the use of the native language in the schools and government offices of Suwalki gubernia. However, Stolypin stubbornly maintained that the Northwestern Territory would remain Russian and the Imperial Russification policy gathered momentum during his last years in office.159
The Fourth Russian State Duma
The elections to this last Duma were held in the early fall of 1912 and it was in session from November 15th, 1912 until October 6th, 1917. Its makeup differed little from that of its predecessor. The government flooded the assembly with numerous minor projects, thus preventing the Duma from gaining a voice in substantive matters. Even while the Duma's importance declined, the Tsar continued to conspire to restrict its already diminished powers even further.
Fourteen deputies were elected from the three Lithuanian gubernias, but there were only four Lithuanians among them, including the conservative priest Juozas Laukaitis (1873-1952), Mykolas Januškevičius, Pranas Keinys and the noted lawyer Martynas Yčas (1885-1941). A Lithuanian-Jewish electoral alliance again made possible the election of N. Fridman. Lithuanian conservative elements, particularly the Catholic hierarchy, opposed this cooperation. The Lithuanian conservative clergy made great efforts to affect the results of the election, even supporting the election of two non-Lithuanian priests and the Protestant Yčas.160
The experience of 1905-1907 clearly showed that a direct struggle for Lithuanian autonomy under the Tsarist regime was fruitless: results could only be attained with the destruction of the Old Order and the victory of democracy. For this reason, the Lithuanian Fourth Duma deputies, even including the conservative Father Laukaitis, sought to bring up the Lithuanian question indirectly through various parliamentary tactics and alliances. M. Januškevičius, who allied himself with the Trudovik faction, was an especially vigorous defender of the oppressed, including the Jews, but was best known for his defense of Lithuanian interests. He exposed the practice of colonizing Lithuania with Russian immigrants and ridiculed the Tsarist language policy, which often led to ridiculous results in Lithuanian court cases when the defendants literally could not understand the crimes with which they were being charged. For his part, Yčas attempted to persuade the Cadets to support Lithuanian autonomy, despite Miliukov's contrary attitude. In general, the Russian parties were not in favor of autonomy until the war brought about a certain change in the Russian attitude.161
In general, it can be said that the Lithuanian Duma deputies sought to raise the Lithuanian question on an all-Russian scale while, at the same time, struggling for the victory of democracy within the Empire itself. Bulota and Yčas were leading figures within their parties, the Trudoviki and Cadets, respectively. Fridman, meanwhile, also defended the interests of all of Russia's Jews. Martynas Yčas achieved the most prominence: after the February Revolution he became Prince Lvov's Vice-Minister of Education. Yčas is noted for the fact that, at the outbreak of the First World War, he made a speech in the Duma expressing the Lithuanian desire to see Lithuania Proper and Lithuania Minor united at the end of a victorious war. The Lithuanian struggle for autonomy was also reflected in the famous February 1914 memorandum of Piotr Durnovo in which the latter told the Tsar that even the Germans would not want to annex such a troublesome nation as the Lithuanians.162
Thus, while at the turn of the century, East Prussia's Lithuanians had acted as the "protectors" of their oppressed co-nationals in Russia, the Lithuanian nationalists of Lithuania Proper now became the leaders of the national movement and sought to unite the two parts of Lithuania. The Lithuanian deputies of the Duma played an important part in this political evolution.
The Social Movement in Lithuania After the Revolution of 1905
After the second half of 1907, the social movement in Lithuania acquired an increasingly peaceful character. There were, however, exceptions. In August, 1907 a secret group of so-called "terrorist-expropriators" was organized in Kaunas. It murdered government officials and plundered both state and private property. But the trial records make it clear that such groups were composed of people of various nationalities and had no national or social goals.
For a while, Lithuania's working class which had experienced the success of the strikes and mass movements, continued to press for change. In the second half of 1907 strikes were widespread among the railroad and industrial workers of the Lithuanian gubernias. The trade union movement also grew in strength. However, soon the efforts of the Russian administration and its allies began to tell. This, together with the declining influence of the Lithuanian SDP, led to a decline of the workers' movement. After the mass arrests in the fall of 1906, the entire Kaunas Lithuanian SDP organization consisted of some two hundred workers. The repression of the Lithuanian trade unions was so harsh that it was brought up in the State Duma.163 However, after the second half of 1911, the workers' movement rose again and the trade unions began to revive. There were large-scale strikes in the Kaunas and Vilnius factories of the Schmidt Brothers and Lithuania's metallurgical works at the beginning of 1914; they involved over 1,500 workers. However, this movement was of an economic nature and virtually all of the strike activity was peaceful.164
The LSDP and the Russian SDRP in Lithuania sought to activate and politicize the workers' movement. An important facet of this agitation was the organization of May Day demonstrations in support of the eight-hour day. However, these organizational efforts gave only modest results. As the LSDP legal weekly Žarija reported in 1908 workers did not go into the streets that year because of the rain. The Kaunas Vice-Governor's report of June 13, 1912 noted that, in general, the political situation in May of that year was a quiet one.165
The smallholding peasantry responded strongly to the Stolypin reforms. They felt victimized in the distribution of consolidated lands. On the whole, Lithuania's peasantry took an active part in the reforms. The Kaunas Governor's report of 1912 reported that in 1909 he had received 221 village applications for homestead consolidation and that the majority of the applications were approved the same year. In general, the well-to-do peasantry supported the abolition of village tenure, while the poorer peasantry opposed the creation of the new homesteads.166 One of the problems in carrying out Stolypin's program in Lithuania was the lack of home rule: Lithuanians did not as yet have elected zemstvos, and the appointed Russian agrarian officials were viewed with suspicion by the populace. Corruption in the distribution of land was widely suspected and was not uncommon. Russian colonists were often favored in the land distribution causing considerable resentment among the native Lithuanian peasantry. These practices provoked peasant disturbances between 1911 and 1914 in a number of districts in Kaunas and Vilnius gubernias. The government's repressive measures in the face of village unrest served only to deepen the peasants' antipathy toward the Russians.167
Political Parties After the Revolution of 1905
The Lithuanian SDP, which had first raised the issue of Lithuanian autonomy, tried to reconcile its two (nationalist and internationalist) wings. During this time the role of the internationalist group, which sought to amalgamate with the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, grew in strength. It believed that a social revolution would by itself solve the national problem. The other wing continued to stress Lithuania's separateness and demanded political autonomy. The LSDP was active not only in the three predominantly Lithuanian gubernias, but in Grodno, Bialystok and Brest-Litovsk as well. Thus, non-Lithuanians were heavily represented at LSDP meetings. Despite this, nationally-minded elements predominated. The Seventh Congress of the LSDP held in August 1907 spoke about national goals in the first part of the program. It stated that "Lithuania is a land which differs from other areas of Russia not only by its culture, but also by its significant differences in economic life." The Party stated as its task the establishment of a politically autonomous Lithuania within a democratic Russian republic. On the question of a union with the Russian SDRP, the Congress presented a series of conditions that made amalgamation practically impossible (including the demand that the LSDP be left autonomous, supremacy of the LSDP in its own territory, etc.). Despite the fact that the LSDP failed to join the RSDRP, it continued to coordinate its work with the latter. This continued to weaken the Lithuanian party, since such cooperation tended to alienate the nationally-minded members.168 The Party's cultural work, popular education and much of the press remained in the hands of nationally-minded moderates such as Alina-Ona Paulauskytė, Viktorija Landsbergienė, Mykolas Biržiška, Augustinas Janulaitis and Steponas Kairys. Lithuanian Social Democrats of the internationalist stripe who tended towards Bolshevism had their own periodical Vilnis (1913-1914) and contributed to the legal Žarija. The extreme leftists continued to move closer to the positions of the Bolsheviks, leaving behind their more moderate colleagues.
The centrist and rightist elements within the Lithuanian national movement also crystallized more clearly on the eve of the Great War. In 1905 the Lithuanian Democratic Party increased its agitation among the peasants and formed the Lithuanian Peasant Union as a special branch for this purpose. The 1906 party program renamed the party the Democratic Party of Lithuania. Its immediate goal was the creation of a democratic, politically autonomous Lithuania with a Seimas (Diet) in Vilnius, which would eventually lead to a fully independent Republic of Lithuania, with a "just distribution of wealth," and federative ties with "neighboring democratic states." The LDP proclaimed its support for full civil rights, social welfare and agrarian reform.169 However, the growing social differences among LDP members between those of Populist views and the more conservative, right-wing elements led to the formation of two separate parties between 1907 and 1917. The leftist Democrats (K. Grinius, J. Vileišis, J. Staugaitis, M. Šleževičius and others) united with the Lithuanian Peasant Union and created the so-called Lithuanian Socialist Populist Democratic Party (later the Lithuanian Peasant Populist Union) which emphasized social issues. The rightist elements formed the Lithuanian National Progress Party (Antanas Smetona, Augustinas Voldemaras and others) who sought national unity in the struggle for independence and ignored needed social reforms. This party was very small, but after the war (under the name of the Lithuanian National Union) it eventually seized power, putting an end to multiparty democracy.
Finally, there was the Christian Democratic Party. Until the Great War, it was in the process of formation. In 1900 the Catholic monthly Tėvynės Sargas estimated that of 650 clergy in Kaunas Gubernia, 350 supported the national movement. The growing number of young Lithuanian nationalist clergy eclipsed the older priests of a Polish orientation. This group needed a vehicle for political expression and at the end of 1905 the Catholic groups, led by the clergy, formed the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Union. It was founded by the professors of the Theological Academy in St. Petersburg J. Mačiulis-Maironis and A. Dambrauskas, as well as Father Petras Bučys, an alumnus of the Academy. The clergy began to take an active part in politics and over a hundred participated in the Great Assembly of Vilnius. However, the ideological and organizational consolidation of the Union took a long time. In 1907 the Christian Democrats began to publish the literary and political monthly Draugija (1907-1915).170 Its first issue proclaimed the party program which stressed moderation and, at the same time, a national program to attract Lithuanian Catholics. It was emphasized that the party would not seek an autonomous, ethnographic Lithuania with a Diet in Vilnius.
The Christian Democrats, like the other parties, were active at a time when a strong desire for education had engulfed the Lithuanian masses. The populace was dissatisfied with the overcrowded state school system which lacked funds and sufficient teachers. The clergy sought to exploit this desire for education to enhance religious values. The clergy's struggle for the use of the Lithuanian language in church services gained the Christian Democrats support among the people. In 1912 a large delegation of Lithuanian clergy from the Vilnius region petitioned Pope Pius X to defend the rights of the Lithuanian language against the Polish Church hierarchy.171
The secular and clerical activists of the Christian Democratic Party also founded numerous educational and social organizations whose purpose was to educate the Lithuanian peasant masses and instill in them the requisite religious spirit. In 1906 the Lithuanian Catholic educational society Saulė was established and by 1910 this group had 72 chapters, forty schools and a number of libraries. In Kaunas, Saulė organized courses for teachers.
After 1912 the society Rytas became active in Vilnius gubernia. Among its founders were J. Basanavičius, the poet Liudas Gira, Father J. Kukta, A. Vileišis and others. This society initiated pedagogical courses in Vilnius in 1915; these later became a teacher's college. In Suwalki the priest (later bishop) Justinas Staugaitis founded the educational and welfare society Žiburys. Many priests accomplished a great deal in advancing education and welfare, even though their first goal invariably remained a religious one. Father Svaistelis, the pastor of Utena, established an elementary school in virtually every village, training the required teachers himself, and personally supporting poor students. A good many of the Lithuanian clergy became more nationally conscious and began to abandon Polish culture. However, the Christian Democratic movement was not without its careerists and opportunists, such as Konstantinas Olšauskis, whose questionable moral qualities and political machinations were widely known. In 1906 he established the Society of St. Joseph, a Catholic trade union, which eventually competed with the Social Democratic trade unions. At the same time, Olšauskis maintained especially close relations with the manufacturers and Tsarist officials. In general, however, the Christian Democratic Party, regardless of its political and religious goals, achieved a great deal in strengthening the national culture and national consciousness of the Lithuanian people. Its work among the youth was of particular importance. In 1911 the Church established the popular village youth organization Pavasaris.
In addition, the Christian Democratic movement achieved success because the other political parties and groupings did not agitate for a separation of Church and State. For example, the Lithuanian teachers' congress in the fall of 1905, which raised the need for compulsory secular public education, did not take any measures against the growing Catholic influence in the schools.
The growing network of state and private schools still failed to satisfy the needs of the Lithuanian populace on the eve of the Great War. In some indices, the Lithuanian gubernias lagged behind their neighbors (for example, Grodno gubernia and the Baltic provinces), even if they were considerably ahead in education when compared with the Russian interior. Statistics compiled in 1911 show that Kaunas gubernia had only 25.5 pupils per a thousand inhabitants (with similar numbers for Vilnius and Suwalki), while Grodno gubernia contained 51.3 per thousand. Such a situation further increased the desire for education among the masses. Thus, while the educational situation left much to be desired, the results were impressive when considering the decades-long campaign of official obscurantism, Russification and religious discrimination which prevailed in Lithuania under the Tsars. The educational advances made despite these obstacles made later achievements possible.172
Overseas Lithuanians played an important part in the struggle for Lithuania's freedom. Following the Insurrection of 1863, several factors stimulated a growing stream of emigration: the political persecutions and agrarian upheavals that followed 1863, the brutal suppression of the Revolution of 1905, the Stolypin reforms, and other conditions. Thus, numerous Lithuanians left their native land to search for security and economic opportunity abroad. Both Russia's industrial centers and foreign countries, chiefly the United States, attracted numerous emigrants. Between 1897 and 1914 Riga attracted some 35,000 Lithuanians, Liepaja15,000, St. Petersburg30,000, Odessa7,000 and Moscow2,000. More than 300,000 Lithuanians left for the United States between 1869 and 1914, 14,000 went to England, some 5,000 to Canada and 10,000 to South America. The Kaunas gubernia statistical committee stated that 14,679 peasants emigrated to the United States in the three years from 1909 through 1911. At the same time some 5,500 returned from abroad. In general, it seems that the number of emigrants was proportionately greater from the less industrialized regions. It is difficult to estimate the number of Lithuanians in the United States before the Great War, since American nationality statistics for the time are hardly accurate. According to documents of Lithuanian-American organizations now being held in the Central State Archive of the Lithuanian SSR, there were "more than 800,000 Lithuanian immigrants" in the US before the First World War. This may be an accurate estimate, since the Lithuanian Catholic Union in America had about 100,000 members, while the Lithuanian Workers' Union claimed 125,000. However, data from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates about 610,000 Lithuanians in America at that time. In any case, as can be readily seen, for a country the size of Lithuania the emigration number are staggering. Large Lithuanian communities existed in New York, Philadelphia and Boston, while the largest and most important was in Chicago. After World War I, the Lithuanian-American community played an important role in securing support for Lithuanian independence in the West.173
Translated from Lithuanian by Saulius Sužiedėlis
This article was part of a book being edited by Dr. Romas J. Misiūnas. With the editor's and author's permission, the manuscripts selected for the book were later given to the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center for publication. The Editor acknowledges with gratitude the cooperation of the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center in making the article available for publication in Lituanus.
* University professor, presently in Israel.
** See first part of this article entitled "Lithuania 1863-1893: Tsarist Russification and the Beginnings of the Modern Lithuanian National Movement" published in Lituanus Vol. 42, No. 3, 1996.
95 Of the pre-Auszra periodicals the more significant were the Prussian Protestant Nusidavimai apie evangelijos prasiplatinimą tarp žydų ir pagonių: Keleivis (1844-1880) and Lietuviška ceitunga (1878-1939). In 1879 M. Tvarkauskas published Gazieta Lietuviška and Unija (1884-1885) in the U.S. J. Šliūpas published the anticlerical and radical Lietuviškasis balsas (1885-1889). Of more significance was the American Vienybė lietuvninkų (1886-1919) which was replaced in 1920 by Vienybė; see LIS, II, pp. 205-206.
96 Ausra: Laikrasztis iszleidziamas per Dra. Basanawicziu Ragainėj (March, 1993).
97 See K.P. Pobedonostsev, Pisma k Aleksandru III, I-II (Moscow, 1925-1926); "Naujas laikraštis," Varpas, l (January 1889).
98 See e.g. LIŠ, II, pp. 235, 336 and Varpas, 3 (1895), p. 56.
99 In M. Bolchovskoi, "Knygnešys," Akiračiai, 10 (1981), p. 11; LIŠ II, p. 276.
100 On the international ramifications see Bismarck, p. 536-538, 680 and Gordon A. Craig, Germany 1866-1945 (New York, 1978), p. 237.
101 Statistinės žinios, pp. 35-39, 56-59.
102 LIŠ, II, pp. 226, 229, 294; Statistinės žinios, pp. 58-59.
103 LIŠ, II, p. 323.
104 Ibid., pp. 282, 323.
105 Ibid., pp. 282, 323.
106 Statistinės žinios, pp. 37-39; LIŠ, II. p. 191.
107 About six million Jews lived in these gubernias at the turn of the century.
108 Hroch, p. 62; cf. Čepėnas, pp. 276-277.
109 Varpas, l (1900).
110 Ivinskis, p. 444.
111 Ibid., pp. 444-445.
112 See Šakenis; L. Baumgarten, Dzieje Wielkiego Proletariatu (Warszawa, 1966); LIS, II, p. 212; V. Merkys, Liudvikas Janavičius (Vilnius, 1964)
113 J. Jakštas, Dr. Jonas Šliūpas (Chicago, 1979); A. Kučas, Amerikos lietuvių istorija (Boston, 1971); S. Michelsonas, Lietuvių išeivija Amerikoje 1868-1961 (Boston, 1961; "Medžiaga L. Malinauskaitės-Eglės ir J. Šliūpo biografijoms," Literatūra ir kalba, V (1961).
114 A. Rimka, Lietuvių tautos atgimimo socialiniai pagrindai ir "Aušros-Varpo" gadynės (1883-1893) socialekonominiai raštai (Kaunas, 1931).
115 Stasys Matulaitis, Atsiminimai ir kiti kūriniai (Vilnius, 1967); V. Kuzminskas, K. Vaitkevičius, "gydytojo Vaineikio byla," Mokslas ir gyvenimas, 9 (1969), 2 (1970).
116 Kazys Grinius, Atsiminimai ir mintys (Tuebingen, 1947), pp. 207-209; see also Komunistas, No. 1 (1967), pp. 99, 101.
117 Vėbra, Lietuviškos spaudos..., p. 89, fn. 40.
118 Handbuch der litauischen Sprache, 2 vols. (Prague, 1856-1857); Trumpa, p. 10.
119 K.Y. Grot, Materialy Alia zhizneopisaniia Y.K. Grota (St. Petersburg, 1912), Vėbra, Ibid., p. 90.
120 LIŠ, II. 322, 337.
121 Trumpa, p. 11.
122 Ibidem; Vytautas Merkys, Nelegalioji lietuvių spauda kapitalizmo laikotarpiu (ligi 1904), I (Vilnius, 1978), p. 226; Tarle, "Graf S.Y. Witte," p. 532.
123 Tarle, Ibid., pp. 536-537; "Evropa v epochų imperializmą," Sochineniia, V, p. 133; "Germanskaia orientatsiia i P.N. Durnovo v 1914," Ibid., XI, p. 508; See N.P. Eroshkin, Ocherki Istorii gosudarstvennykh uchrezhdenii dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii (Moscow, 1960).
124 "Dnevnik kniagini Sviatopolk-Mirskoi za 1904-1905 gg.," Istoricheskie Zapiski, 77 (Moscow, 1965).
125 T.B. Geilikman, Istoriia obshchestvennogo dvizheniia evreev v Polshe i Rossii (Moscow-Leningrad, 1930); see Die Judenfrage der Gegenwart: Dokumentationsammlung, ed. Leon Chasanowitsch and Leon Motzkin (Stockholm, 1919), p. 20.
126 R. Šarmaitis, "Lietuvos darbininkų judėjimas XIX a. pabaigoje," Revoliucinis judėjimas Lietuvoje (Vilnius, 1957), p. 24; on the development of the Social Democratic movement in Lithuania see Aidas Lietuvos darbininkų gyvenimo, Nos. 2-3 (1899); LIŠ, II, pp. 278-279, 296-297.
127 See H.J. Bartmus, St. Doernberg, E. Engelberg, et all, eds., Deutsche Geschichte, III (Berlin, 1968), pp. 23, 42 and Revoliucinis judėjimas Lietuvoje, p. 23.
128 K. Siurblys, Tarybų Lietuvos darbininkų klasė (Vilnius, 1965), p. 15.
129 LIŠ, II, p. 351.
130 B. Glik, "Podem revoliutsionnogo dvizheniia v Litve oseniu 1905 g.," Lietuvos TSR Aukštųjų Mokyklų Mokslo Darbai, Istorija, III (1961), p. 117-118.
131 See Vilniaus Žinios, October 26, 905; Čepėnas, pp. 357-359.
132 Glik, p. 116; LIS, II, p. 352, 354, 373.
133 Ibid., pp. 386-387.
134 On Charikov see Tarle, "S.Y. Witte,: p. 517; AVPR, F.Vatikan, D. 5, 1. 8; Revoliutsiia 1905-1907 gg. v Litve 9Vilnius, 1961), No. 138.
135 LIŠ, II, p. 365; See also M.M. Scheinman, Papstvo (Moscow, 1950), p. 168.
136 Gaigalaitė, p. 26, Čepėnas, p. 68; Die Auswirkungen der ersten russischen Revolution auf Deutschland: Archivalische Forschungen (Berlin, 1956), pp. 43-59; also Fritz Fischer, "Deutsche Kriegesziele, revolutionierung und Seperatfireden im Osten 1914-1918," Historische Zeitschrift, 188 (1959), H. 2; Tsentralny Gosudarstvennyi voenno-istoricheskii Arkhiv SSSR (henceforth CGVIA), F. 20005, op. 1, d. 101, p. 16-17, 83.
137 LIŠ, II, pp. 381, 384-387.
138 Ibid., p. 381.
139 Glik, p. 120.
140 Revoliucinis judėjimas Lietuvoje, p. 103; Senn, pp. 25-26.
141 Independence for the Lithuanian Nation: Statement Setting Forth the Claim for Independent Government and Freedom in the Terms of Peace for Lithuania by the Lithuanian National Council in the United States (Senate Document No. 305, Washington, December 3, 1918); Diplomatkheskii slovar', II (Moscow, 1950), column 573; US, II, p. 398.
142 On the rising tide of agrarian unrest see Revoliucinis judėjimas Lietuvoje, p. 113-116, 854; LIS, II, pp. 390-391.
143 J. Komodaitė, "1905 metų gruodžio politinis streikas Lietuvoje," Revoliucinis judėjimas Lietuvoje, pp. 122-128; LIS, II, pp. 392-396, 417.
144 Komodaitė, pp. 124-127; LIŠ, II, 398-399, 402-403.
145 Revoliucinis judėjimas Lietuvoje, p. 107; LIS, II, p. 401.
146 See Lietuvos Žinios, October 26, 1905; Cf. Glik, pp. 98-99; LIS, II, pp. 397-398.
147 Ibid., pp. 403-404.
148 I. Bonch-Osmolovskii, comp., Raboty pervoi Gosudarstvennoi Dumy (St. Petersburg, 1906); S.M. Sidelnikov, Obrazovanie i deiatelnost' 1-oi gosudarstvennoi dumy (Moscow, 1962).
149 See Zakonnodatelnye akty perekhodnogo vremeni 1904-1908 (St. Petersburg, 1909), Supplement; LIS, II, 404; Gaigalaitė, pp. 29, 31;
150 See Gabrielė Petkevičiūtė-Bitė, Karo meto dienoraštis (Vilnius, 1966), pp. 104-105; V. Kapsukas, Raštai, III (Vilnius, 1961), pp. 93-94; Čepėnas, p. 406.
151 M.M. Vinaver, Istoriia Vyborskogo Vozvaniia: vospominaniia (Petrograd, 1917); LIŠ, II, pp. 416-417; Čepėnas, pp. 408-409; Lietuvos TSR istorija, II (Vilnius, 1963), pp. 351-353.
152 A.W. Zenjkowski, Pravda o Stolypine (New York, 1956); Y.v. Tarle, "Graf S.Y. Witte," p. 555; S.Y. Witte, Vospominaniia, II (Moscow-Petrograd, 1923), p. 401; Y.V. Tarle, "Evropa v epokhu..." p. 266; A.Y. Averkh, "Stolypinskii bonapartizm i voporsy voennoi politiki v III Dume," Voprosy Istorii (henceforth: VI), 11 (1966), 17-32; P. Miliukov, Vtoraia Duma (St. Petersburg, 1908); A. Zarabov, Vtoraia Duma: vospominaniia (St. Petersburg, 1908).
153 Gaigalaitė, p. 80.
154 LIŠ, II, 427-432; Čepėnas, 413-415.
155 See Carlo M. Cipolla, ed., The Fontaną Economic History of Europe: The Industrial Revolution (Glasgow, 1980), p. 350; N. Rozhkov, Sudby russkoi revoliutsii (St. Petersburg, 1907), p. 112; A.I. Chuprov, Melkoe zemledelie i ego osnovnye nuzhdy (Moscow, 1918), pp. 15-22; see also P.N. Pershin, Uchastkovoe zemlepolzovanie v Rowssii, khutora i otruba, ikh rasprostronenie za desiatiletie 1907-1916 gg. i ssudby za vremia revoliutsii 1917-1920 gg. (Moscow, 1922), p. 34.
156 Statistinės žinios, p. 91.
157 See N.M. Dobrotvor, "O vyborakh v III gosudarstvennuiu Dumu po rabochei kurii," VI, 1 (1955), 96, 99.
158 Čepėnas, p. 417; cf. Avrekh, p. 19; also see A Report on the Activity of the Jewish National Council in Lithuania for 1920-1922 tin Yiddish] (Kaunas, 1922), p. iv.
159 See also Čepėnas, pp. 419-422; Statistinės žinios, p. 22, 36-37, 60-61; Tarle, "Graf S. Y. Witte," 559, 561-563; P.Y. Shchegolev, ed. Padenie tsarskogo rezhima, I-VII (Moscow-Leningrad, 1924-1927 and V.N. Kokovtsov, Iz moego proshlogo: vospominaniia 1903-1919, I-II (1933); "Interesnaia nakhodka," IV, 4 (1964), 104, 112.
160 See M. V. Rodzianko, Gosudarstvennaia Duma i Fevralskaia 1917 goda revoliutsiia (Rostov-on-the-Don, 1919); A.A. Oznobishin, Vospominaniia Mena 4-toi gosudarstvennoi Dumy (Paris, 1927); Dnevnik Mena gosudarstvennoi Dumy V.M. Purishkevicha (Riga, 1924); M. Yčas, Atsiminimai, I (Kaunas, 1936); cf. Gaigalaitė, p. 31; Čepėnas, p. 424; Senn, p. 44; Lithuania 700 Years, p. 141.
161 Frank Alfred Colder, Documents of Russian History 1914-1917 (Gloucester, Mass., 1964), p. 34.
162 Cf. Senn, p. 52; then see Documents of Russian History, p. 14.
163 LIŠ, II, 439-442, 448-456, 461-464, 466.
164 Ibid., pp. 487-488, 492, 500-501, 513-514, 521 ff.
165 Ibid., pp. 465, 472-474; 490-492; 497-498.
166 Ibid., pp. 478, 492, 523.
167 See e.g. LIŠ, pp. 485-490, 498, 508, 520, 524.
168 Ibid., 450, 452, 458, 464, 475-478, 493-497.
169 Ibid., pp. 480-481; Čepėnas, p. 294.
170 Vardys, p. 18; Gaigalaitė, p. 27.
171 See also Basanavičius' memoirs in Lietuvių tauta, Bk. V (Vilnius, 1936) and Yčas, p. 124; Čepėnas, pp. 297-299; LIŠ, II, pp. 503, 519-520; Vardys, p. 18.
172 Gaigalaitė, p. 35; J. Kauneckis, Prelatas Olšauskis: dokumentinė apybraiža, 2nd ed. (Vilnius, 1962), p. 59-60, 65-69; for the Lithuanian Teachers' Union see K. Žukauskas, Iš Lietuvos mokyklos istorijos (Kaunas, 1960); V. Žildnas, Dėl lietuviškos mokyklos 1905-1914 m. (Vilnius, 1935); Statistinės žinios, pp. 48-49.
173 See P. Ulevičius; LIŠ, II, 488; Statistinės žinios, pp. 36-37; LCVIA, F. 58, ap. 7, b. 23, 1. 298; AVPR, F. Osobpolitotdel, op. 474, d. 138, 1. 34-35; cf. LCVA, F. 58, ap. 7, b. 22, 1.99; David Fainhauz, Lithuanians in Multi-Ethnic Chicago (Chicago, 1977).