Keeping a Nation Alive
— Adams Morgan Heritage Trail —
Since 1924 this mansion
has housed representatives of the Republic of Lithuania, even during the 50 years when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union.
In the late 1700s, the Russian Empire annexed Lithuania's territory, ending the 500-year-old state known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1918, at the close of World War I, Lithuania re-emerged as an independent nation. But once World War II broke out in 1939, Lithuania endured invasions by the Soviet Union, the Nazi Germany, and again the Soviet Union. For the next 50 years, Lithuania disappeared into the Soviet orbit. Or did it?
Lithuania did not disappear. When the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania in 1940, Minister Plenipotentiary Povila Žadeikis refused to surrender this building. Žadeikis and his successors ensured that official Washington (and, thanks to Washington, other governments around the world) not only refused to recognize the Soviet annexation of Lithuania, but also continued to consider Lithuania an independent nation, aiding immensely in the campaign to throw off Soviet domination. The U.S. government also gave Lithuania's stranded diplomats access to Lithuanian gold deposited with the U.S. Federal Reserve. These funds helped keep the legation open while diplomats and Lithuanian immigrants promoted Lithuania's culture and independence.
Finally in 1990, as the Soviet Union was crumbling, Lithuania was the first republic to declare its independence. After citizens elected a new government, Soviet forces attempted to remove it by force, spurring tens of thousands of Lithuanians to occupy the streets of their capital Vilnius on January 13, 1991, and protect their elected officials. Moscow relented and the last Soviet troops left in August 1993.
Marker produced by the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in cooperation
with District Department of Transportation and Cultural Tourism, DC.