The Activity of Zigmas Žemaitis Seeking to Return Vilnius to Lithuania in 1920–1922.
Keywords:Zigmas Žemaitis, Vilnius, negotiations, Poland, East Lithuania Commission
Abstract. This paper analyses the activity of Zigmas Žemaitis, a public figure, initiator and leader of Higher Courses in Kaunas, and later professor of the University of Lithuania (since 1930 – Vytautas Magnus University) seeking to return Vilnius to Lithuania in 1920–1922. Born and residing in East Lithuania, Žemaitis was well acquainted with the mindset and problems of the Polish-speaking population of this region and he was convinced that only Lithuania could guarantee them adequate economic conditions and cultural rights. During the restoration of the state of Lithuania, Žemaitis started publishing books in the Polish language, in which he tried to influence the opinion of the Polish-speaking population of Eastern Lithuania. This activity was noticed and positively assessed by the Lithuanian government. At the end of the 1920 Žemaitis participated in the Lithuanian-Polish negotiations in Warsaw, where he actively worked behind the scenes and met with political figures from Poland and the Vilnius region. He participated in the informal negotiations of the representatives of the left factions of the Lithuanian Constituent Seimas with the Polish political groups in Vilnius in 1921. He was chairman of the East Lithuania Commission in 1921–1922. This activity has not been researched so far, therefore, the article aims to clarify Žemaitis’ attitude towards Vilnius and the Vilnius region in 1918–1920, to investigate his contribution to the Lithuanian-Polish negotiations, to analyse his role in the negotiations with the Polish political groups in Vilnius, and to examine his activities in the East Lithuania Commission.
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