The Provisional Government of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Laikinoji Vyriausybė) was a temporary government aiming for independent Lithuania during the last days of the first Soviet occupation and the first months of German Nazi occupation in 1941.
It was secretly formed on 22 April 1941, announced on 23 June 1941, and dissolved on 5 August 1941. It was formed from the members of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) in Kaunas and Vilnius.
"Attention! Attention! This is Kaunas
speaking. Independent Lithuania. Declaration of the restoration of Lithuania’s independence. Formed Provisional Government of the newly reborn Lithuania declares that it is restoring the free and independent state of Lithuania. In front of the pure conscience of the whole world, the young state of Lithuania enthusiastically promises to contribute to the organization of Europe on a new basis. The Lithuanian nation, tormented by the brutal Bolshevik
terror, decided to build its future on the basis of national unity and social justice."
— Leonas Prapuolenis, the first announcement of the Provisional Government through the recently captured Kaunas' radio. The Lithuanian rebels liberated the territory of Lithuania before arrival of the Nazis and rescued over 300 political prisoners who would have been murdered by Cheka. Also, the June Uprising laid the foundations for anti-Nazi resistance which later transformed into an anti-Soviet resistance.
Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, prime minister of the Provisional Government
Front page of the first issue of the Į laisvę
(To Liberty) newspaper with the Independence Restoration Declaration of Lithuania by the Provisional Government of Lithuania in 1941 after the successful June Uprising
Memorial board on the wall of the former Kaunas radiophone
The Provisional Government was confirmed on 22 June, 1941 at the start of the June uprising. However, the leader of the LAF, Kazys Škirpa, who was supposed to become the Prime Minister, was in Germany at the time, hoping to obtain recognition for Lithuania (he was also former Lithuanian envoy to Germany and therefore continued to reside there). Since the Nazi regime saw Lithuania as a future part of Greater Germany, it was not much interested in Lithuanian independence, but allowed the Provisional Government to operate while it was useful. Kazys Škirpa was not allowed to leave Germany and return to Lithuania to join the government; instead, he was put under house arrest. Rapolas Skipitis, another minister to be who also had been in Berlin at the time was prevented from leaving as well.
Vytautas Bulvičius, who was Minister of Defence, was arrested by the Soviet forces on 2 June. His place was therefore taken by General Stasys Raštikis. On 21 June 1941 (just one day before Germany declared war on the Soviet Union), four members of the planned government were arrested by the Soviets: (Vladas Nasevičius, Vytautas Statkus, Jonas Masiliūnas, and Jonas Vainauskas); they were imprisoned in Gorky prison in Moscow. The tribunal started on 26 November 1941 (after the uprising had ended, and while Lithuania was still occupied by Germany). Sentences were pronounced on 28 November: Bulvičius was executed, while Masiliūnas, Nasevičius, and Statkus were exiled to Siberia, along with other people arrested at the same time.
Literary historian Juozas Ambrazevičius (a.k.a., Juozas Brazaitis) became acting prime minister instead of Škirpa.
The Provisional Government did little to stop the anti-Jewish violence encouraged by the Nazis and the anti-Semitic leadership of the Lithuanian Activist Front. Lithuanian police battalions formed by the Provisional Government helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust.
The Provisional Government dissolved itself in August 1941 after failing to achieve its goal of an autonomous if not independent Lithuania under German patronage.
The people who were meant to be in the government:
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