Lithuania: The Rebel Nation

Lithuania: The Rebel Nation

Lithuania: The Rebel Nation

Lithuania: The Rebel Nation


In 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to break with the communist empire by declaring the restitution of political independence. Depicting a country at the crossroads of imperial designs, Vardys and Sedaitis trace the history, development, and ultimate triumph of the Lithuanian nation. They begin by exploring Lithuania's pagan ancestry and epochal struggles with Germanic and Russian states, with special emphasis on the first period of political independence between the two World Wars and on the effort to regain freedom in the wake of the perestroika reforms. The authors conclude by examining Lithuania's struggle with the legacy of Soviet rule as it strives to establish democracy and economic prosperity.


Professor Vardys and I were fortunate to have access to the early publications and documents of the Lithuanian movement for Perestroika--the independence movement known as Sąjūdis--and documents, some still in mimeographed form, of the Lithuanian government and parliament. Lithuanian press and periodicals of the period were also of help, not to speak of diverse Western sources. As a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford in 1990, Professor Vardys gained valuable data on the period from some diplomatic archives deposited at Hoover. A research fellowship at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington, D.C., gave him an opportunity to study documents at the National Archives that yielded important data and deepened his understanding of Nazi policies and Lithuanian responses during the Nazi occupation, 1941-1944. Finally, we greatly profited from Professor Vardys's interviews and conversations with Lithuanian political and government leaders, parliament members, academics, churchmen, artists, and people in small towns and villages throughout Lithuania during a trip to the Baltic states in June and July 1991.

After Professor Vardys's untimely death, I was able to complete the manuscript during my tenure as a research associate at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University. I am grateful for the time and support received there and at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, where Professors Alexander Motyl and Mark von Hagen were especially attuned to the important role the "national minorities" would ultimately play in shaping the fate of the Soviet empire.

Most of all, this book stands as a monument to the fine scholarship of V. Stanley (Stasys) Vardys and of the great love he bore for his native land, Lithuania.

Judith Sedaitis . . .

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