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The Case of Lithuania Minor
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Lutz Szemkus
Posted 2013-10-08 16:32 (#94781)
Subject: The Case of Lithuania Minor

The Case of Lithuania Minor

Summary in English

On the Turning of a Historical Region into a Region of Imagination. The
Case of Lithuania Minor

A tradition to refer to the eastern part of East Prussia as Lithuania
was maintained during the period of the 16th to the early 20th century.
The alternative names Prussian Lithuania and Little Lithuania at that
time were used only in those cases which required to distinguish the
region from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (or, in the 19th century, from
a part of Russia inhabited by the Lithuanians). The confines of the
'Lithuanian’ region in East Prussia were fixed and consolidated in the
early 18th century when the name Lithuania started to be used in
defining an administrative unit, while in the late 19th century the
so-called Deime-Alle line was started to be treated as an ethnographic
boundary of Lithuania.

The term Lithuania Minor which started to circulate in the Lithuanian
literature around 1910 implied the idea of irrendenta based on the
assumption that the once existed unity of two Lithuanias should be
restored in the present. With the emergence of Klaipėda Region in 1919
and of Kaliningrad Oblast in 1946, the irredentist discourse as well as
the name of Lithuania Minor associated with it was 'shifted’ in
Lithuanian imagination to define these areas. In the interwar period
such a movement was motivated by the difficulties of Lithuania to
integrate the Klaipėda region annexed in 1923, while after WWII the
treatment of Kaliningrad Oblast as an anomaly emerged, meeting the
unjustified territorial claims of the USSR. In contemporary Lithuania an
attitude that equates Lithuania Minor with Klaipėda region and
Kaliningrad Oblast was made an encyclopaedic statement. This shows that
the percepts about Lithuania Minor increasingly becoming the outgrowths
of imagination are still relevant in the discourse of Kaliningrad Oblast
that prevails in the Lithuanian humanities.
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