Ethnic Relations Between the Poles and Lithuanians in the Eastern and Southeastern Lithuania in 1953–1959 Cover Image

Tarpetniniai lenkų ir lietuvių santykiai Rytų ir Pietryčių Lietuvoje 1953–1959 m.
Ethnic Relations Between the Poles and Lithuanians in the Eastern and Southeastern Lithuania in 1953–1959

Author(s): Vitalija Stravinskienė
Subject(s): History
Published by: Lietuvos edukologijos universitetas
Keywords: ethnic relations; Poles; Lithuanians; sovietization; russification; homogenization.

Summary/Abstract: The article deals with ethnic relations between the Poles and the Lithuanians in the Eastern and Southeastern Lithuania in 1953–1959. The author of the article defines the factors which determined ethno-demographical changes of the region, shows the attitude of the Lithuanian SSR administration to the ethnic problems, and clarifies the relationship problems between the local inhabitants of the area (the Poles and the Lithuanians). Chronologically, the researched period is divided into 2 stages: 1) L. Beria’s administrative period (March – June, 1953); 2) N. Khrushchev’s governing period (Summer, 1953 to 1959). Because of its ethnic composition (the majority of inhabitants were of the Polish nationality) and different attitudes to the region adopted by local Lithuanian administration on one side and local Poles on the other, the Eastern and Southeastern Lithuania was in a particular situation during that period: local administrative organs tried to make the region more Lithuanian while the Poles sought to preserve its Polish character. However, the dispute among the Lithuanians and the Poles was suppressed by the Soviet authorities, which advocated the internationalization process of all the nationalities of the Soviet Union. Finally, the following conclusions were made. Changes in the USSR national politics after Stalin’s death had an impact on Lithuania and slowed down the russification of the region. Under the orders of the vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Interior Affairs of the USSR L. Beria, the process of national cadres’ (the Poles and the Lithuanians) evacuation from the ethnically mixed Eastern and Southeastern region was started, which was followed by the efforts of local Lithuanian administration to make this region more Lithuanian. But at the end of L. Beria’s governing period this process was interrupted and replaced by the internationalization of all Soviet Union’s nations with the aim to unify the Lithuanian SSR with other Soviet Republics. Efforts of the Lithuanian SSR authorities to strengthen the positions of the Lithuanians as well as those of the Lithuanian language in the Eastern and Southeastern region of the country ran contrary to the Polish attitudes and aims to maintain the Polish character of the region. Because of this, ethnic relations between the Poles and the Lithuanians became quite strained; this problem was only temporarily alleviated but not eliminated. The situation of the local Poles improved due to their efforts to attain their goals and support from the Polish government and the Poles living in Poland, which became obvious and intense after Stalin’s death. Migration processes in the Eastern and Southeastern Lithuania in 1953–1959 made huge impact on the ethnodemographical situation and strengthened the russification of the region. Native Poles, who left for Poland, were replaced by people from other Soviet republics who were loyal

  • Issue Year: 77/2010
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 42-51
  • Page Count: 10
  • Language: Lithuanian