A Lithuanian historian on Wednesday claimed to have found a rare original copy of the country’s 1918 act of independence, which reestablished the Baltic state after more than a century of Russian rule.
Lithuanian officials responded with cautious applause, while a photo of the document shared by Professor Liudas Mazylis, who unearthed the act inside the German foreign ministry’s archives in Berlin, immediately went viral on social media.
“A Lithuanian-language resolution with all the 20 clearly original signatures was attached next to the German version,” Mazylis, a professor at Vytautas Magnus University, told AFP by phone from Berlin. Lithuania once made up one of medieval Europe’s largest military empires but by the late 18th century the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were gradually partitioned between neighbouring empires, including Russia.
Lithuania’s Independence Act, declared on February 16, 1918, came as a result of World War One and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said it is “likely” that the discovered document is one of the few original copies. The whereabouts of the others have been unknown since World War Two.—AFP