Talk:History of Vilnius/Archive 1

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"Return" to Poland

I'm not a big specialist in history, so I have only a single comment - "on 1922 February 20 the whole area returned to Poland" seems not very correct to me as Vilnius was never part of Poland, so it cannot be returned, I suggest change it to "on 1922 February 20 the whole area connected to Poland" or something similar. Knutux 05:53, 2005 Apr 9 (UTC)

Thanks. I think that change is obvious, and "returned" seems very biased (although one could argue why "return" is used here). "Connected" seems much better. Lysy 09:16, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Technically speaking, the city was a part of Poland between the May Constitution of Poland of 1791 and the partitions and then again it was controlled by Poland in 1919. That's why the term "returned" is not that absurd. Halibutt 11:11, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
It's not absurd, but it's neglecting Lithuanian POV, and IMO unnecessarily controversial. Without the additional explanation it could be not understood correctly (i.e. the assuption that PLC equals "Poland"). Would you agree ? Lysy 11:25, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Hi, I would suggest to modify first sentence. The problem is that there were sure Russians or Slavs living in Vilnius for a long time, and this is indicated by archeological evidence and written sources. However Slav population was mainly mercants and there written sources indicating that Jews lived in the city as well. So the sentence "The area of present Vilnius has been inhabited by Slavs and then Lithuanians for centuries" is implying that slavs lived in Vilnius from the time unknown and at the certain point in history Lithuanians came into area. As there are no ways to prove who came to the city first I would suggest to indicate the facts here only. And these are: there are archeological evidences indicating Slavs living there in its early history. So my suggestion would be "The area of present Vilnius has been inhabited by people of various cultures in early history (or prehistory?) of Vilnius, including Slavs, which is proven by numerous archaeological findings in different parts of the city. Dirgela 05:59, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This sounds fair to me. Lysy 09:19, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
In Talk:Vilnius Halibutt proposed:
The area of present Vilnius has been inhabited since early Middle Ages as is proven by numerous archaeological findings in different parts of the city. Initially a Baltic settlement, it was also inhabitated by Slavs and, since at least 11th century, by Jews. Some historians identify the city with Voruta, a forgotten capital of the King Mindaugas.
I think I like his way of putting it better, as it clearly implies that Balts were the first. (Is it true or only a supposition again, anyway ?) Lysy 10:49, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Halibutt's proposal seems pretty balanced for me. Generally it should be true that Balts were there before Slavs as Slavs moved into Eastern Europe in 5th-7th century, before the territories in nowadays Lithuania and Belorussia were inhabited by people usually associated with Balts. So, even if I am not sure that initial settlement in Vilnius was baltic, to say that area was inhabited by balts is true.Dirgela 11:19, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Good, then I'm going to change it in our article in line with Halibutt until anyone has better ideas :-) Lysy 19:42, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
One more remark: "Vilnius itself was probably established as a village by Gediminas, Duke of Lithuania in the beginning on 14th century." According to archeology, the settlement was there long before Gediminas, and there are even speculations that it was an important place in Mindaugas time. There is a tradition to say that Gediminas made Vilnius capital city, at least his letters are signed there. So it would be better to write that "Vilnius itself was probably made capital city of Lithuania by Gediminas, Duke of Lithuania in the beginning on 14th century." or something similar. Dirgela 16:02, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I've changed it as you propose. I also think we can hopefully come back to Talk:Vilnius, where the changes agreed here has been already incorporated into Vilnius article by User:Refdoc. Many thanks everyone Lysy 16:49, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think I'll move the contents of this page as a stub under History of Vilnius where it can hopefully be further developed. Lysy 16:28, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Castle or village?

I also do not like this sentence in the second paragraph:

"Vilnius itself was probably established as a village by Gediminas, Duke of Lithuania in the beginning on 14th century."

I think it was a wooden castle not a village that Gediminas built, and the village that developed around it had not much relevance to the later town. Therefore I would remove the sentence above altogether, and move the second sentence ("It was granted city rights by Wladislaus II of Poland in 1387.") to the fourth paragraph. Lysy 20:03, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Addressing Dirgela's remarks

moved from Talk:Vilnius
Let's start the work on the sections mentioned by Dirgela then. For instance:
1 (First point moved to a section above in order to avoid duplicate discussion)
2 During the World War I Wilna was occupied by Germany from 1915 until 1918. On February 16, 1918 in Vilnius The Restoration of Independence of Lithuania was proclaimed. After withdrawal of German forces the city was seized on January 1, 1919 by Polish self-defence units recruited from the local population. The institutions of the state were established but very soon, on January 3 1919 the city was taken by Bolshevik forces advancing from the east and proclaimed the capital of the short-lived Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania and Belarus. On April 19, 1919 the city was seized by the Polish Army but on July 14 it was lost again to Soviet forces. into
During the World War I Wilna was occupied by Germany from 1915 until 1918. On February 16, 1918 the Restoration of Independence of Lithuania was proclaimed and the city became the capital of the newly-born Republic of Lithuania. However, after the withdrawal of German garrison on January 1, 1919, the city was seized by Polish militias recruited from local inhabitants. Both Lithuanian and Polish administration was established in the city, but on January 3, 1919, the city was taken by Bolshevik forces advancing from the east. The city was proclaimed the capital of the short-lived Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania and Belarus and the Lithuanians were pushed back. However, in March of the same year the Lithuanian and German forces managed to sweep most of the country of the Red forces and on April 19, 1919, the city was seized by regular forces of the Polish Army. This started an open dispute over the city, claimed by both Poland and Lithuania. Piłsudski proposed creation of a Polish-Lithuanian federation, but this was refused by the Lithuanian government. Finally, the Highest Council of the Paris Peace Conference accepted the so-called Foch Line as the basis for the future Polish-Lithuanian border, leaving Wilno on the Polish side. However, the situation changed yet again on July 14, when the city was again lost to the Red Army.
A few questions here:
What was the role of the Lithuanian administration in Vilnius in 1918/1919 ?
What does it mean that "Lithuanians were push back" by Bolsheviks in the beginning of 1919 ? Were there any Lithuanian-Soviet fights to defend the city in January ?
Lysy 18:09, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
3 Shortly after the defeat in the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, the withdrawing Red Army handed the city over to the newly reborn Lithuania. However, on October 9, 1920 the the Lithuanian-Belarusian Division of the Polish Army under General Lucjan Żeligowski seized the city after a staged mutiny. The city and its surroundings were proclaimed a separate state of Central Lithuania and, after free parliamentary elections, in a result of the decision of Central Lithuanian Parliament, on February 20 1922 the whole area returned to Poland, with Wilno becoming the capital of the Wilno Voivodship, which was also soon approved by the Conference of Ambassadors of the League of Nations. into two paragraphs. I'd like to make them shorter, but apparently the situation needs more in-depth description.
In July of 1919 the government of Lithuania joined the Bolsheviks in their war against Poland, hoping to retake the city that was considered its capital. Although the Soviets officially recognized the government of Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania and Belarus and not the Republic of Lithuania, after the Russian defeat in the Battle of Warsaw in August put an end to the existance of the earlier state. Lenin decided to hand over the city to the Lithuanian authorities who yet again established there the capital of Lithuania. However, the Lithuanians also seized the region of Suwałki, which led to a short Polish-Lithuanian War. The Polish forces managed to retake Suwałki and on October 7 a cease-fire agreement was signed, but it did not solve the issue. The negotiations of the future of the city carried out in Paris came to a stalemate after the Lithuanian diplomats declined to discuss the status of the Vilnius area and denied any Polish influence over it whatsoever. Polish commander and the head of state Józef Piłsudski, fearing that the Conference of Ambassadors might accept the Lithuanian claims and grant the city to Lithuania, ordered his subordinate General Lucjan Żeligowski to stage a mutiny of his Lithuanian-Belarusian Division and seize the city by force.
Did Piłsudski really give such orders, or was he simply silently approving Żeligowski's actions ? Lysy
On October 9, 1920, after short skirmishes, the Lithuanian forces were pushed out of the city and soon afterwards Żeligowski proclaimed both the city and its surroundings Republic of Central Lithuania. Extensive diplomatic negotiations on the future of the city were continued in Paris, but neither Poland nor Lithuania was willing to accept any compromise. Finally the parliamentary elections were held in new-born state. The elections, boycotted by the Lithuanian minority, were won by pro-Polish parties and on February 20, 1922, the whole area returned to Poland. Wilno became the capital of the Wilno Voivodship, and the situation was approved by the Conference of Ambassadors of the League of Nations soon afterwards.
This seems fair to me. As we may be writing not only the subsection of the Vilnius article, but maybe the longer article in History of Vilnius, I don't think we need to be expectionally terse here. Lysy 18:11, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
4 Wilno was liberated in July 1944 by Polish Home Army together with the Red Army, only to be shortly afterwards incorporated into Soviet Union again. would it seem better if I wrote:
Wilno was liberated in July 1944 by joint operation of the Red Army and the Polish Home Army, only to be shortly afterwards incorporated into Soviet Union again.?
It sounds rather strange to me. Red Army is not known for its joint operation with AK, unless they meant 'invite'em and shoot'em' kind of joint op. The above sentence creats an illusion (?) of extensive cooperation. I don't think it is correct - but as I know next to nothing about those events, I will just register this as a comment, not an objection.
I also don't like this. Probably a reference to Operation Ostra Brama could help sorting it out. Mayby simply: Wilno was liberated in July 1944 by Polish Home Army (see Wilno Uprising) together with the Red Army, only to be shortly afterwards incorporated into Soviet Union again. ? I don't think we could indeed call this "joint operation", maybe "attempted co-opertation", but I'm not sure whether there was any cooperation planned at all ? :::Anyway, I've read some accounts of Lithuanians living at that time in Vilnius, and they remembered that it was Home Army that was first to clear the town of Germans, only later the Red Army came. (It also should be noted that the same witness remembered the Home Army murdering Lithuanian civilians in Vilnius). Lysy 12:58, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)


As to the claim that Wilno was a peripheral city... I don't know what made you think that. Certainly it was not the capital of Poland, but it was the sixth biggest city, the capital of one of the voivodships and one of the most important centres of Poland. The university created there was considered one of the most prestigious in Poland (after Cracow, Warsaw and perhaps Poznań). Wilno was also the mecca of artists, for instance most of the notable Polish photo artists either originated from Wilno or moved there. Lots of new institutions and facilities were built there in the 1920's and 1930's - and so on, and so forth. Please explain why do you consider Wilno a second-rate city and we could try to discuss it.
Finally, as to expulsions... I believe the matter is too complex to be explained in just one sentence. We'd have to link the word to a separate article on the post-war Soviet expulsion of Poles. Halibutt 05:55, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)
I think Dirgela means not only city but Vilnius Voivode at all. In comparison to other parts of Lithuania or Poland it had weak, hardly agricultural economic base. It can be felt even today: despite of Vilnius is capital, a lot of territories belonging to it still have weak agricultural base. -- 08:44, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I believe the cty was very important - the major city of the north-east Poland, and as Halibutt writes, the 6th biggest (with its own university, etc.). On the other hand, as anon points out, the entire eastern Region (Kresy) was rather undeveloped compared to western Poland (note the division into Poland A and Poland B). IIRC didn't Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski plan to 'reunite' economically those two as a next 5 year plan from mid 40s after miitary industry development would be done?. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 10:22, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Well, if we take into consideration the areas surrounding the cities and not the cities themselves, then most of Poland was "peripheral". Apart from all Kresy it would also apply to Kraków, Lublin, Białystok, Lwów and most other major cities. However, I believe we should focus on the city's history here and not the rural areas. 70 or so percent of Polish population before the war lived in rural areas, so we could simply say that the whole country was peripheral. Halibutt 11:32, Apr 9, 2005 (UTC)

I was not trying to call Vilnius second-rate city, however the wording in the article implies that it started to flourish after it was included into Poland. It probably needs more explanation - was Vilnius developing better comparing to other part of Poland, neighboring territories (like Lithuania). Lithuanian historiography often mentions, that the border between Lithuania and Poland after 1920 was artificial in the sense that it cut territories, which economically were bounded with Vilnius before the war. That, together with agricultural background of the region had negative effect on city's economical life. I not good enough in these matters to try to defend that position, but maybe it is possible to separate economical and cultural issues there? Dirgela 11:35, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps the economical situation of the city worsened, though I would seriously doubt it. I'm not that much of an economics buff to tell, but I guess it could be easily checked. We could also check other factors that usually are behind the economical prosperity: population growth, industry/commerce, taxation, house construction, railway network development, income... lots of factors really. The main problem would be that we're going to compare pre-WWI and post-WWI situation, that was completely different.
Anyway, when I wrote that the city was developing rapidly, I meant mostly the "cultural" growth. The situation of the Poles living there under Tsarist regime was incomparable to that of a Polish city after the wars: Polish language was no longer banned from the office, a university was restored, theatres and cinemas opened, zillions of associations, previously banned, were officially started and so on. Also the number of inhabitants grew significantly, from 140.000 in 1916 to over 200.000 in 1939, despite being captured by various armies... some 8 times in a row. This cannot be compared with the growth of Warsaw, Lwów or other heavily-industrialised cities like Gdynia, Łódź or Katowice, but seems quite comparable to other cities of similar economical structure. Białystok (roughly 70.000 before WWI, 109.000 in 1939), Radom (51.934 inhabitants in 1911, 90.059 in 1938), Sosnowiec (98.748 in 1911, 129.610 in 1939), Lublin (50.000 in 1897, 130.000 in 1939) and so on. Halibutt 14:59, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)
I don't have any firm data at hand but don't forget that Wilna was an informal capital of Yiddish at that time (very interesting description of Jewish situation in the 1920s can be found in "Reise in Polen" by Alfred Döblin). Museum of Jewish culture was founded there in 1919; YIVO (Institute for Research of Jewish Language and Culture) in 1924. There were many Jewish theatres, newspapers and magazines, museums and schools, Jewish PEN-Club. This should not be totally neglected in the description of situation in the town before II World War. Lysy 20:23, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Some information (but still no data) on economy before II World War: The area of city grew considerable (several suburbs were included in the city). Population grew, as Halibutt mentioned, but the quick growth of cities population was quite common in Poland at that time, so there's probably nothing exceptional here. The number of shops and industrial facilities increased significantly (again no figures). Major industries that developed in town in that time: so called "light industry", electrotechnical, wood and building materials, food. Obviously agriculture and trade played an important role in the economy. Public bus transportation was opened in 1926. But again, there's no doubt that first of all the city fluorished culturally. Lysy 20:37, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

English language issues

I really like the way the discussion is going above. I find it far less stressful to watch rational discussion than edit wars and name-calling! I also like how the article seems to be being worded, with armies seizing the city, rather than invading or liberating (except for cases where the use is obviously justified).

"Invading" and "liberating" would be better for the style, but NPOV would suffer ... Lysy

I have a few non-NPOV-related editorial comments.

"of the King Mindaugas" should be "of King Mindaugas". If "King" is used as part of someone's title, it is capitalized but without the definite article. If you were referring in general to the king, who happened to be Mindaugas, you could also use "of the king, Mindaugas".

I think this is so obvious that I've corrected it without waiting for any forther discussion. (I also changed the name of the first section, which seemed inadequate). Thanks. Lysy

"houling" -> "howling"

Corrected. Lysy

The sentence:
... he must build a castle ... and a grand city around that hill, so that "the iron-wolf-like sound about this great city would spread around the world".
sounds awkward, but I don't know how to fix it. In Lithuanian, the word "garsas" means "sound", but when used in a figurative sense, such as about a city, the English equivalent is "fame". But if you use two separate words for the sound of the wolf's howling that was heard around the world, and the fame of the city that would spread around the world, then the parallel is not so obvious.

Is it possible that this tale is translated into English somewhere ? I have three books with Vilnian tales, but all of them in Polish. Interestingly, according to them Lizdeika, after explaining the dream took his new name, which was "Radziwill" ("radzi" = "advises" in Polish). Lysy 17:32, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The sentence:
So Gediminas somehow turned pagan Lithuania back to Mindaugas pro-Western and Christian Europe establishing a capital in the former capital place though forging the original name to Vilnius.
is extremely unclear, and I have no idea of what is meant by "forging the original name to Vilnius." Does it mean that he changed the name of the settlement that was there to the new name "Vilnius"? Is there any evidence that this was "the former capital place"?

Neither I have any idea what this was supposed to mean. Lysy

"Aušros Vartai gate (also known as Medininkų Gate or Ostra Brama)": "Aušra" means "Dawn" (i.e. when the sun comes up), so "Aušros Vartai" literally means the gates of dawn. (Was it the eastern city gate, perhaps?) I'm surprised that this isn't translated anywhere in either this page or the page about Aušros Vartai.

I think the usual English name for it is "Gate of Dawn". Probably it would be best to refer to it as Gate of Dawn (Lithuanian: Aušros Vartai, Polish: Ostra brama). I would also suggest to move the Aušros Vartai article to the English name. Lysy 17:32, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Also, wasn't there a miracle associated with Aušros Vartai? Maybe I'm mixing this up with something else (and I don't have time to look it up at the moment), but I thought there was something about a Russian army being stopped at that gate by Mary.~

You may be thinink of Holy Mother stopping Bolsheviks at Vistula in 1920. But I'm not sure whether it was connected to Ostra Brama. Lysy 17:32, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The name of the city changes throughout the article, between Vilnius and Wilno and Wilna, without notice. If this is not just sloppy editing, it would be helpful to write something like "The city, now known as Wilno, ...", or "Vilnius, whose official name had been changed to Wilna, ...". My wording is not very good either (pretty bad, actually), but I think you need something to make smoother the transition from using one name in one paragraph to using a different name in the next paragraph.

I think this follows the awkward convention assumed afted discussion and voting on Gdansk/Danzig naming. You're right that it could be smoothed, still. Lysy

"over the Eastern Lithuania":

  • The definite article "the" should not be there.
  • It might be more NPOV to refer to "the Vinius region", rather than "Eastern Lithuania", unless maybe you wanted to put it in quotes, or say something like "what it considered as Eastern Lithuania".
I certainly would welcome this change, as more NPOV. Lysy 17:39, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Incidentally, I visited Vinius for about a week last year, and it is indeed truly amazing how the city has been transformed "from a Soviet into a European city in less than 10 years."

Ifdef 12:54, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Good for you. I plan to visit Lithuania, Vilnius included, soon :-) Lysy

Refdoc's changes

Hi I come late to the discussion. As some of you have seen I had a lengthy discussion with the multinamed fellow on the Vilnius talk pages. I think he has raised a number of valid points. Knowing next to nothing about Lithuanian history I am the wrong person to adress the issues, but I think they are worth exploring:

1. town area settled since Mesolithic times (highly likely - all strategic useful areas had some settlement some time orther, teh quetsion is probably more since when has a settlement become permanent. But even if not permanent it is a factum worth including.

I'm not sure whether the word "continuosly" is appropriate here. Maybe it is. I just don't know. Anyone ? Lysy

2. Naming of grand-dukes/polish kings - I think there is a good case to use/mention the Lithuanian names (Jogaila, Žygimantas Senasis, Steponas Batoras)

Why not use English names ? If you think that using Lithuanian names is justified, than why not using Polish names along ? I think it's not neutral in English wikipedia. Lysy

3. He is quite upset about the notion of Lithuania/Vilnius being liberated by AK and Red Army, but feels this is just a transition from one bad thing to another. I woudl agree that this is one way of looking at it. The word liberation is certainly not the best choice under the circumstances and certainly not NPOV. Refdoc 22:35, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I think it's not NPOV. Lysy


Hi I just realised I might have misunderstood your invitation to this page. I just went ahead and edited the whole lot, partially incorporating some of th e stuff I said above, and paretially improving the English. Revert me if you are unhappy, it is your page here.

No, I don't consider it "mine" at all, just a more peaceful place to hold and develop it. I think we're all trying to be quite cautious now. Frankly, I don't know what to do with your changes. Some are obvious, some other are disputable. Some are wrong IMHO, e.g. changed "liberation" to "occupation" by AK, but you're German, right ? ;-) (pardon my humour). Lysy 23:56, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I have tried to choose military terms for all armies rather than chosing more emotive terms . Refdoc 00:11, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Furtehr characterising the elctions to the parliament in 1919 as free and as a fact while the town is occupied by Polnish troups is surely POV. I have started a subpage Talk:Vilnius/a new attempt where I try to engage the other guy, maybe we can move things slowly back to tehre. Wikipedia actually discourages what we are doing here.

Refdoc 23:08, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Well, we're just trying to reach consensus. It's not a secret page - I've announced it on Talk:Vilnius. And I think we have quite balanced number of active "Polish" and "Lithuanian" people active in this discussion here. Lysy 00:00, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
On the second thought, I think I'll revert your changes other than the English language ones and just note them as propositions to be discussed. I don't feel we're this far yet. But go ahead with your attempt with unlocking the Vilnius page. Maybe it'll work out. Lysy 00:05, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I agree with your exchange from "occupied" to "seized" Refdoc 00:15, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Good. Even leaving Polish POV aside, I think one could hardly call it occupation by AK, given that most of the surviving citizens in the town at that time were Poles. "Seized" seems neutral. Lysy 00:21, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)