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Audronius Ažubalis, Member of the Seimas: the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania hosts the presentation of and discussion on a historical book in commemoration of the Lithuanian Uprising

A book titled Birželis kvietė į kovą. 1941-06-23 Lietuvos sukilimui atminti (en. June summoned to the battle. In commemoration of the Lithuanian Uprising of 23 June 1941) was presented in the Conference Hall of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania on 16 June 2021. The book, authored by a public editorial board and published by the Žara publishing house, is dedicated to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Lithuanian Uprising of 23 June 1941 and pay tribute to its goal of restoring an independent state of Lithuania.

‘We are finally presenting Volume I of the book, which has just seen print. We are working to demolish the wall of lies that was and, unfortunately, is still being built by the NKVD and KGB staff and rebut the false stories that they spread about the participants of the Lithuanian resistance. The time will come when Lithuania honours its defenders with monuments that are as grand as the ones in Hungary,’ said Audronius Ažubalis, Member of the Seimas.

Historian Valdas Rakutis, Member of the Seimas, although unable to attend the event, sent his welcome address to the participants. ‘We have to realise that Lithuania is a state; if information wars are waged against it, then we have to fight them. Regarding the June Uprising, we have to take pride in the fact that the Uprising actually occurred and pay tribute to the heroes who took part in it. We have to make a distinction between the rebels and Nazi collaborators. The two of them are completely different. Let us sort this issue out in the first place so that there could be more clarity on the national level,’ said Mr Rakutis.

Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Chair of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, spoke about popular defence and collective identity. ‘The Uprising is the proof of the nation’s will to resist the occupying power and marks the beginning of Lithuania’s resistance against the Soviet occupation. The organised and armed phase of the resistance, in the form of the partisan struggle, continued until 1953. The Uprising, beyond any doubt, shows that the Lithuanian nation had a clear awareness of the Soviet occupation and was determined to restore the independent Republic of Lithuania. This is an excellent example for building and reinforcing the concept of civil resistance in modern-day Lithuania,’ said Mr Kasčiūnas.

Arvydas Sekmokas, member of the editorial board of the book, discussed the Uprising from the historical perspective. ‘Lithuania experienced the Commonwealth of the Two Nations with Poland, russification by the Tsarist Russia, harsh control by Kaiser’s Germany, the allegedly voluntary accession to the gulag of the Soviet Union, the Holocaust by the Fascist Germany, the repeat Soviet occupation and the willing membership of the European Union. A famous phrase by Winston Churchill can be reworded as follows: We have no eternal occupations, and we have no perpetual unions. The interests are eternal and perpetual. And Lithuania’s eternal interests are to survive and be free.’

Other members of the editorial board also shared their thoughts.

Professor Vytautas Landsbergis emphasised the significance of the Uprising against the occupying forces and collaborators, as well as Lithuania’s right to be sovereign, and invited the audience to be the patriots of our country.

Vidmantas Valiušaitis, compiler of the book, gave an overview of its content and read some excerpts. He said how happy he was that Lithuania, for the first time in history, now had a book which was aimed to show the context of the Uprising.

Kostas Ivanauskas, Commander of the Vilnius Company of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, shared the memories of the experience his family members had at that time.

The event was attended by the members of the editorial board and authors of the book, namely, Audronius Ažubalis, Kostas Ivanauskas, Vytautas Landsbergis, Arvydas Sekmokas, and Vidmantas Valiušaitis; Arvydas Anušauskas, Minister of National Defence, Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Chair of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence; Ramutė Žandarienė, Head of the Žara publishing house; as well as other guests and numerous visitors.

The authors of the book replied to the questions raised by the guests and autographed the books for those who purchased them. In July, the publication of Volume II of the book is planned, and sometime in future, a translation into the English language is envisaged.

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