Chicago, Ill. A.L.R.K. Federacijos Chicago Apskrities Spaudos Sekcijos, 1944. Stated First Edition. 8½” x 5¼”. Stapled thin card wrappers. Pp. 51. Very good: wrappers toned at extremities and lightly soiled with a bit of corner wear; light dust-soiling throughout.
This is a strong and poetic appeal on behalf of Lithuania's fight for independence, relating current and former atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi and Soviet occupations of the nation. It was written by a noted Lithuanian American priest and author in Chicago and the text is entirely in Lithuanian.
Lithuania is a small European nation that was dominated by Russia’s invasions throughout the 18th century and by a subsequent century of wars between Germany and Russia on its soil. Due to its long history of being governed by outside forces, it was a victory when it declared independence at the end of World War I. But from 1940 throughout World War II, Lithuania was occupied three more times – by the Soviet Union (1940-1941), by Nazi Germany (1941-1944), and at the time of this book's publication, once again by the Soviet Union.
We had portions of the book translated, and learned from them that it was published by the Chicago-based press section of the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Federation of America. We also learned the impetus for the book:
“Realizing the importance of the moment and wanting to contribute to the liberation of the Lithuanian nation, the Press section . . . seeks to mobilize the much-needed spiritual and material forces for the common assistance of the nation . . . to defend Lithuania's rights and restore its independence.”
The text went on to discuss the various horrors and atrocities of the 1940-1941 Soviet and subsequent Nazi occupation, including the expulsion of Lithuanian farmers from their homesteads and the destruction of villages, libraries and schools. Lithuanians were imprisoned in forced labor camps, starved, and murdered. Seven photographic images in the book show dead Lithuanians and the text pointed out that:
“now the Soviet Union has re-occupied Lithuania, bringing our brothers the same cruel means of death that have already been tried. The disaster of the homeland causes deep pain, sadness and terrible fear in the hearts of the Lithuanians of this free country due to the fate of their enslaved compatriots.”
The book also had a few Lithuanian poems, as well as a hopeful section which conveyed that: “We believe in the progress of humanity, we believe that there will come times when there will be no personal slavery nor the slavery of nations, when international imperialism . . . will be curbed.”
The author, Juozas Prunskis, was a Lithuanian American priest, journalist, and scholar. He was deeply involved in the cultural and political life of the Lithuanian community in Chicago, writing and editing pieces for the Lithuanian daily newspaper, Draugas. He published several articles and books in both Lithuanian and English about atrocities perpetrated by Communists and Nazis. We were unable to discover much about the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Federation of America, save that it was established in Pennsylvania in 1906, and as of 2012 had an office in Chicago.
A plea for peace and liberation for the people of a repeatedly oppressed nation, produced by those sharing their heritage in the United States. OCLC shows eight holdings over three entries. Very good. Item #6676