Antanas Smetona and His Lithuania

From the National Liberation Movement to an Authoritarian Regime (1893-1940)

This biographical overview of the life of Antanas Smetona (1874-1944), his importance in the Lithuanian national movement, his central role in the emergence of modern Lithuania (1918-1920), and the development of the various groups of nationalists in Lithuania, offers a picture of the creation of a national state in XXth century Europe. Twice the president of Lithuania (1919-20 and 1926-40), the authoritarian ruler of the state from 1926-1940, Smetona established his role as a capable and needed politician in Lithuania’s political life, a middle person between the political left and right. The study characterizes Smetona’s closest and most important associates, who helped him to formulate legislation for his model of presidential regime, the nationalistic ideology, and the development of national economy. Despite its authoritarian tendencies Smetona’s rule surprisingly continued to be for many Lithuanians a symbol of Lithuanian independence and national freedom through the years of Soviet occupation.

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Alfonsas Eidintas, born 1952, PhD (1990), prof. (2001) of Vilnius University and member of the Institute of History of Lithuania, is the author of more than 20 books, novels and 50 articles on modern Lithuanian history, including President of Lithuania: prisoner of the Gulag: A Biography of A. Stulginskis (LGRRC, 2000); Lithuanian Emigration to the United States 1868-1950 (MELC,2003); Jews, Lithuanians and the Holocaust (Versus Aureus, 2003, 2012), and the co-author of Lithuania in European Politics. The Years of the First Republic 1918-1940 (St. Martins Press, 1998, 1999), and The History of Lithuania (VUL, 2013). Since 1993 he served as Lithuanian ambassador to the USA, Canada, Israel and Norway, and since 2012 he has been Ambassador of Lithuania to Greece.
Foreword by Martyn Housden

Most Important Dates

Translator’s Preface
Abbreviations used in the Text and the Notes

The Pupil Antanas Smetona and the Teacher Jonas Jablonskis
With Father Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas at Viltis
Petras Klimas – Between Smetona and Steponas Kairys
Smetona and the Lithuanian Monarchists
Smetona’s Conflict with Juozas Gabrys-Paršaitis
Baron Stasys Šilingas and the President
“The Man of Greatest Compromise” – Ernestas Galvanauskas and Smetona
Jonas Lapėnas and the Tautininkai: Why the LTS did not Become a Party
Antanas Smetona and Foreign Diplomats
Smetona and Izidorius Tamošaitis: the Justification of the Coup
His Wife Sofija Chodakuskaitė –Smetonienė
The Smetona-Voldemaras Tandem
The Split with Voldemaras
Smetona’s Daily Routine
The Ideologist Izidorius Tamošaitis
Tumas-Vaižgantas, the Priests, and the Church
The Creation of National Culture, Vincas Krėvė and the President
Lithuania’s Poles and Smetona “King of the Jews”
Smetona, Adolf Hitler, and the Nazis
Smetona’s In-Laws: Juozas Tūbelis and Jadvyga Chodakauskaitė
A Quick Succession of Prime Ministers in Crisis
The Intriguer: Stasys Raštikis, the Army and the President
Antanas Merkys, Broken and Apathetic
With General Kazys Musteikis and into the Diplomatic “Swamp”
Povilas Žadeikis and Smetona in America
The Fates of Smetona’s Family and Friends

All interested in the history of the Lithuanian state and generally in the history of Eastern Europe between the two World Wars.