History Teaching in Lithuania’s Schools in 1940–1941: the Destruction of National Identity and the Implementation of the Soviet Ideology Cover Image

Istorija Lietuvos mokykloje 1940–1941 metais: tautiškumo naikinimas ir sovietinės ideologijos diegimas
History Teaching in Lithuania’s Schools in 1940–1941: the Destruction of National Identity and the Implementation of the Soviet Ideology

Author(s): Stanislovas Stašaitis
Subject(s): History
Published by: Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas Švietimo akademija
Keywords: history teaching system; the content of history teaching; national self-consciousness; sovietization and ideology; soviet ideology.

Summary/Abstract: Summary History teaching suffered mostly in 1940-1941 when national schools and their teaching content underwent the process of sovietization with the aim to justify the Soviet ideology and policy. During the teachers' convention in August, 1940 in Kaunas, the leaders of the new government severely criticized the policy and educational system of the independent Lithuania and insisted on a new bolshevic evaluation of the country's past and present. J. Geniušas, Director of the department of the public educational commissariat, in his report History Teaching in a Socialist School criticized history teaching in the independent Lithuania and required to revise its content on the basis of the Soviet school's aims and content. Though these aims and content were carefully delineated in the instructions and newly designed programmes by the public educational commissariat, history teaching programme as such for secondary schools was not designed. New courses were introduced such as the history and constitution of the USSR; the course on contemporary Lithuanian history was requested to meet the requirements of the Communist party and its government's policy. Educators J. Geniušas and V. Čižiūnas in the summer of 1940 rewrote the last chapters of their history textbooks to meet the requirements of the bolshevic ideology; they also newly presented Lithuania's history in the 20th century. The course on the USSR history was taught on the basis of prof. A. Šestakov's textbook A Short Course of the USSR History which was translated into the Lithuanian language and which conformed to the requirements of the Soviet ideology. To teach other subjects, the existing textbooks were revised; articles, poems or illustrations which contradicted communist ideology were deleted. The bolshevic attitude towards history teaching was dis¬seminated by such authors as J. Geniušas, V. Trumpa, J. Drazninas, and others. In their articles they criticized the teaching of history in independent Lithuania and claimed that in a socialist school history should be taught on the basis of dialectic and historical materialism as well as the ideas of K. Marx, F. Engels, V. Lenin, and J. Stalin. To the majority of teachers this ideology was unacceptable; they taught from textbooks published in the period of independence, avoided participation in political actions, etc. Pupils also manifested their disapproval of this process by refusing, for example, to become members of the pioneer organization or young communist league. Such was the response to the sovietization of Lithuania's schools in general and history teaching in particular.

  • Issue Year: 70/2008
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 39-52
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Lithuanian