Lietuvos aidas (literally: Echo of Lithuania) is a daily newspaper in Lithuania. It was established on September 6, 1917 by Antanas Smetona, and became the semi-official voice of the newly formed Lithuanian government. When the government evacuated from Vilnius to the temporary capital, Kaunas, it ceased publication. The newspaper was revived in 1928 and became the most popular newspaper in Lithuania, but World War II disrupted its publication. In 1990, after Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union, the newspaper once again became the official newspaper of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania. Over the course of the decade it lost readership and was facing financial difficulties in 2007.
The newspaper was established in early September 1917 when Lithuania was occupied by the German Empire. The German authorities loosened their control and granted some rights to the local population as World War I drew to a close. An openly pursued goal of annexation gave way to a more guarded policy after Germany perceived that a public relations backlash might occur: the Central Powers realized that the Allies could use this annexation in their propaganda and in the upcoming peace negotiations. During this time, Lithuanians assembled the Vilnius Conference and elected the 20-member Council of Lithuania, which was entrusted with the declaration of Lithuania's independence.
When Antanas Smetona, the newspaper's founder, became the chairman of the Council, Lietuvos aidas became the official newspaper of the Council on September 21, 1917. It was important for the Council to inform the Lithuanian people about its struggles and progress and developments on the war front, and to report other political news. Amongst its goals was the unification of all Lithuanians, irrespective of their political beliefs, in order to declare and establish an independent Lithuania. The newspaper was censored by the Germans and was required to issue German translations. The German issue was titled Litauische Echo. At first the newspaper was published three times a week; after October 1, 1918 it was published daily, except for Sundays. The circulation in 1918 reached some 20,000 copies.
The newspaper usually consisted of about four pages. It published official declarations, decisions, and similar documents. Among the most famous issues is that of February 19, 1918, when the entire front page was dedicated to the Act of Independence of Lithuania. Although the majority of that issue was confiscated, the newspaper's editor, Petras Klimas, succeeding in hiding about 60 copies. In addition to political news, Lietuvos aidas also published poems and other literary works. It featured a special supplement, Liuosoji valanda (The Free Hour), dedicated to art. Another supplement, Mūsų ūkis (Our Farm), published articles on farming and agriculture.
Antanas Smetona remained as the editor in chief, but the actual editing was performed by Petras Klimas, Liudas Noreika, and others. The newspaper discontinued its operations on December 31, 1918, after publishing 214 issues. As Bolshevik forces took over Vilnius, the government had to abandon the city. After the interim government was established in Kaunas, Lietuvos aidas was replaced by Lietuva (Lithuania) as the official newspaper of the Lithuanian government.
Lietuvos aidas was revived on February 1, 1928. It replaced Lietuva, the newspaper of Lithuanian government, and Lietuvis, the newspaper of the Lithuanian National Union. The chief editors were appointed by President Antanas Smetona and his Prime Minister. The most prominent editors were Valentinas Gustainis (1928–1932), the writer Ignas Šeinius (1932–1934), and Vytautas Alantas (1934–1939). After October 29, 1935, the paper published two editions daily, and from May 9, 1939 until the end of that year it published three daily editions (called Rytinis Lietuvos aidas, Lietuvos aidas, and Vakarinis Lietuvos aidas). These three editions were not merely re-prints or updates, but consisted of completely new material. The issues consisted of 14 to 16 pages. In 1939 the newspaper was the largest newspaper in Lithuania and its daily circulation reached 90,000 copies. The last issue, number 5544, was published on June 16, 1940, the day after the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania. Lietuvos aidas was taken over by the communists, renamed Darbo Lietuva (Working Lithuania), and continued publication for another month.
Lietuvos aidas was again resurrected in 1990 when Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union. The first new issue came out on May 8, 1990, during an economic blockade of Lithuania. Receiving support from Vytautas Landsbergis, it was recreated as the newspaper of the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers of Lithuanian. The first editor was Saulius Stoma. In 2000 businessman Algirdas Pilvelis acquired most of the shares of the newspaper and became its editor. Pilvelis, a controversial figure, alienated much of the readership, and as a result Lietuvos aidas was not profitable during the early 2000s. Rumors circulated that the newspaper would declare bankruptcy due to its debts. A new newspaper, with the same name and design, appeared – the original newspaper had failed to register its name. As of February 2007, the circumstances surrounding the creation of the new Lietuvos aidas remained unclear.
- (Lithuanian) Urbonas, Vytas (2002). Lietuvos žurnalistikos istorija (2nd ed.). Klaipėda: Klaipėdos universiteto leidykla. pp. 140–142. ISBN 9955-456-49-3.
- (Lithuanian) BNS (2006-04-20). ""Lietuvos aidui" iškelta bankroto byla". Delfi.lt.
- Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Vilnius National Conference". Encyclopedia Lituanica VI. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 173–175. LCC 74-114275.
- Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Lietuvos aidas". Encyclopedia Lituanica III. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 340–341. LCC 74-114275.
- (Lithuanian) Skirius, Juozas (2003). Lietuvos istorijos vadovėlis/Lietuvos nepriklausomybės akto paskelbimas. Vilnius: Elektroninės leidybos namai. ISBN 9986-9216-9-4. Retrieved 2007-01-27.
- (Lithuanian) Urbonas, Vytas (2002). Lietuvos žurnalistikos istorija (2nd ed.). Klaipėda: Klaipėdos universiteto leidykla. p. 160. ISBN 9955-456-49-3.
- (Lithuanian) "About us". Lietuvos aidas. Retrieved 2007-02-25.
- (Lithuanian) ELTA (2007-01-05). "Pradėtas leisti dar vienas "Lietuvos aidas"". Delfi.lt.
- (Lithuanian) Grainys, Tomas (2007-01-22). "Už "Lietuvos aido" Nr.2 stovi E.Kaliačius?". Delfi.lt. Retrieved 2007-02-25.