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Established in 2010 to meet a growing international interest in Balkan studies, the Balkan Studies Library series publishes high-quality disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on all aspects of the Balkans with a focus on history, politics and culture. The region is defined here as comprising Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the countries of former Yugoslavia, including their imperial Ottoman and Habsburg heritage.

The series publishes monographs, collective volumes, and editions of source materials. Disciplines covered include history, anthropology, archaeology, political science, sociology, legal studies, economy, religion, literary studies, cultural studies, gender studies, film, theatre and media studies, art history, language and linguistics. The editors especially welcome comparative studies, be they comparisons between individual Balkan countries, or of (parts of) the region with other countries and regions. All submissions are subject to anonymous peer review by leading specialists.

Until Volume 27, the series was published by Brill, click here.
The series does not publish conference proceedings.

The article discusses the activities during the period of late Stalinism of Justas Paleckis, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of Soviet Lithuania. The paper puts forward the premise that from 1944 to 1953, Paleckis balanced between indigenous (local) communism and attitudes characteristic of some Central European national communists. To be more precise, he tried to emphasise the specifics of the historical development of Lithuania, and its differences from other Soviet republics, in which the formation of the Soviet regime started earlier. According to him, its tradition of statehood made Lithuania a unique republic, and this circumstance should be taken into account when making Lithuania Soviet. Paleckis was convinced that in order to make Soviet rule more attractive to the Lithuanians, it was necessary to cooperate with the nation’s cultural elite, that is, with the interwar Lithuanian intelligentsia. In his writings and speeches, he tried to merge organically the liberation of the Lithuanian nation from the ‘yoke’ of the exploiters, with the no less important liberation from the ‘national yoke’ or national revival of the Lithuanians. Social and national ‘liberation’, according to him, was crowned with the establishment of the socialist order in Lithuania. This ‘organic’ understanding of history was characteristic of other national communists in Central Europe. Finally, Paleckis tried to incorporate national elements into the system of symbols in Soviet Lithuania. The Lithuanianisation of symbols of Soviet rule was meant to strengthen the legitimacy of the authorities. However, this analysis shows that the Lithuanian Party leadership did not support Paleckis’ ideas and efforts. He was often strongly criticised in communist forums. It can be argued that in the period of late Stalinism, the ‘window of opportunity’ for national communism in Lithuania was finally closed. Tendencies towards unification and Russification became increasingly prevalent in politics. Thus, in this political-cultural context, Paleckis represented the type of communist that could be called an indigenous Lithuanian communist.

In: Lithuanian Historical Studies

The significance of Iš kelionės po Europą ir Aziją (1914), the guidebook by Julija Pranaitytė, a Lithuanian intellectual from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, depended not just on the fact that the author was the first Lithuanian female traveller to comprehensively document the experiences of a modern tourist in the early 20th century, but that the book itself was the first guidebook to the Russian Empire to be published in Lithuanian.

The guidebook is an attempt by member of the intelligentsia with strong Catholic views to provide practical information about a modernizing and increasingly mobile world. Thus, the intended target of Pranaitytė book is twofold. Firstly, it is more mobile yet still poorly educated working-class reader who is being constantly warned about possible threads of being fooled or cheated. The reader could find advice in guidebook about things worth having while travelling, how to communicate, and what to expect. The guidebook also provides historical information about places visited, cultural insights, similarities and differences to Western society in such a way the book could be interesting and useful for middle-calls traveler as well.

There is also a more general problem relating to the author’s approach to the guidebook: what representations of different cultures and nations did early 20th-century Lithuanians share, and what did these representations mean in the religious, imperial and international contexts of the time? As is often the case in travel literature, history is presented here selectively, taking into account the dominant cultural monologue. It has a clear purpose in Pranaitytė’s guidebook: to spread a vision of the moral and religious superiority of Western and Christian culture. However, having in mind that growing number of workers and middle class were engage in Lithuanian national movement at the beginning of 20th century, this prejudges becomes paradoxical because Empire’s religious and cultural values are shown as cultural foundation for discovering new parts of late Russian Empire.

In: Lithuanian Historical Studies

The Curzon Line is usually identified as the line of 8 December 1919 (similar to the current eastern border of Poland), running to the east of the Daugavpils-Vilnius-Hrodna railway. Typical historiographical texts state that the Soviet government decided to ignore the Curzon Line after 17 July 1920. But in fact, the Red Army crossed the Curzon Line on 13–14 July and continued to occupy Vilna (Vilnius). Another inaccuracy follows from this one. The prevailing trend is to interpret the Lithuanian state’s situation in 1920 as facing one of two ideology-based alternatives: either Lithuania is sovietised, or it is ‘saved’ by Poland, which occupies Vilnius and separates Lithuania from contact with Soviet Russia. But this raises a whole swathe of questions: how should the Lithuanians’ struggle for Vilnius during the whole interwar period be viewed? How should assistance to Lithuanians from other countries, such as Germany, the USSR and Great Britain, be assessed? Finally, how should the return of Vilnius to Lithuania in 1939 be viewed? There is no answer to these questions, but the possibility of Lithuania as a buffer zone thanks to the Curzon Line, is ignored or hardly analysed at all. Using historical documents from Lithuania, Great Britain and Russia, and referring to the studies by Alfred Erich Senn, this article aims to find an answer to the question, why was the idea of Lithuania as a buffer state not realised in the summer of 1920? The idea that it would be more appropriate to call the line alongside Lithuania established at the Spa Conference ‘the Lloyd George Line’ is also discussed.

In: Lithuanian Historical Studies