- March 17, 2019
The pre-war Polish mission in Kaunas will be commemorated
In 2018, Poland and Lithuania celebrated the 100th anniversary of regaining independence, but also the 80th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. For various reasons, both our countries decided to establish diplomatic relations only twenty years after they regained their freedom. On 22 March 2019, at the initiative of the Polish Institute in Vilnius and the local government of Kaunas, a memorial plaque will be placed on the building of the former Polish deputy in Kaunas. According, Polish and Lithuanian historians will talk about Polish-Lithuanian diplomatic relations of the interwar period, in the Library of President Valdas Adamkus.
The interwar period was a time of dynamic changes, difficult international and internal conditions. It was a period of reforms and reconstruction of the countries devastated by the invaders. It was a time of constant clash of various ideas and concepts, including those concerning the future of Polish-Lithuanian relations. Finally, it was the formation of modern diplomacy of Poland and Lithuania, which already in 1919 started the dialogue about establishing diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, without results…
This period caused a great deal of controversy between Poles and Lithuanians. Piłsudski, Żeligowski, Smetona, the dispute over Vilnius and Vilnius Region, made the understanding and establishing partnership relations between the two nations impossible for a long time. Twenty long years there was a wall and a kind of “Cold War” between Poland and Lithuania. “Polish-Lithuanian relations did not actually exist, but every now and then it was well known about them…”, as Piotr Łossowski wrote.
As a continuation of the series of conversations “Without emotions. The Polish-Lithuanian dialogue on…”, launched almost two years ago on the initiative of the Polish Institute, on 22nd March at 4.30 p.m. in the Library-Museum of President Valdas Adamkus will be held a discussion of Polish and Lithuanian historians and political scientists, devoted to the Polish-Lithuanian diplomatic relations of the interwar period, with particular emphasis on the official ones, established as a result of the ultimatum in March 1938. The following will take part: Dr. Jonas Vaičenonis and Dr. Asta Petraitytė-Briedienė from Witold Wielki University in Kaunas, Simonas Jazavita from the Museum of the City of Kaunas, Prof. Dr. Marek Kornat from the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Dr. Paweł Libera from the Historical Research Bureau of the Institute of National Remembrance and Dominik Wilczewski from the University of Białystok and the Baltic Sea Review.
During the discussion, the premiere of a bilingual publication will take place, which was initiated by the Polish Institute in Vilnius on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Lithuania. “1938 The darkest night is just before dawn” was written by young historians and political scientists Simonas Jazavita and Dominik Wilczewski.In this publication, historians from the perspective of young – Lithuanian and Polish – scientists present their point of view on these historical events. In addition, the participants of the meeting will be able to see a special exhibition.
Before the conference, at 4 p.m., a memorial plaque commemorating the work of the Polish deputy in Kaunas in 1938-1939 will be unveiled in a modernist residence at 38 Kęstučio Street. The unveiling of the memorial plaque will take place in cooperation with the Kaunas Municipality. Since 2001, similar plaques have been used to decorate the buildings where the deputies of the USA, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Estonia and France used to be before the war. The plaque was designed by an architect Prof. Jonas Venckūnas from the University of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas. The inscription on the plaque states: “In this building from May 1938 to October 1939 was the Mission of the Republic of Poland. It was established in March 1938 and was temporarily housed in the Hotel “Lietuva”.
Programme of events on March 22, 2019:
16:00 – unveiling of a memorial plaque on the building at 38 Kęstučio Street in Kaunas.
16.30 – discussion “Without emotions… Polish-Lithuanian dialogue about 1938”, premiere of the book “1938. The darkest night is just before dawn” and exhibition in Valdas Adamkus Library-museum at 25 S. Daukanto Street in Kaunas.
Language of events: Polish and Lithuanian with simultaneous translation. Admission is free.
Organizers: Polish Institute in Vilnius, Kaunas City Council, Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Vilnius.
Partners: Valdas Adamkus Library-museum, Kaunas University of Vytautas the Great, Kaunas City Museum, portal Przegladbaltycki.pl.
Translated by Klara Zasztowt within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.