The Lithuanian minority in Warsaw is sparse and it would be difficult to boast on large influences on reality of Warsaw, but through the last hundred years of very stormy relations there have been many prominent Lithuanians or Poles with the Lithuanian origin who worked and created in this city. You can say: why Poles of Lithuanian origin? Because Lithuania is not a monolingual country and one can tell about oneself, that he or she is 'Lithuanian', whereas day by day they speak Polish, Russian or French. The history of Lithuania knows many such cases e.g. Oskaras Milasius (Oskar Miłosz), who was the Ambassador of Lithuania in France before the Second World War and who wrote his books in French. The multilingualism is one of conditions of survival and the development of a small country.

The first organization of Lithuanian minority in Warsaw was established by Lithuanian students at the late 19 century. It is the fact, that a student of Department of Medicine at theTsar’s University in Warsaw Vincas Kudirka became the president of this first society. He is also the author of text of national anthem of Lithuania and the founder of first Lithuanian - language newspaper 'Varpas'.

The anthem:

Tautiška Giesme
Lietuva, tėvyne mūsų,
Tu didvyrių žeme,
Iš praeities Tavo sūnūs
Te stiprybę semia.

Tegul Tavo vaikai eina
Vien takais dorybės,
Tegul dirba Tavo naudai
Ir žmonių gėrybei.

Tegul saulė Lietuvos
Tamsumus prašalina,
Ir šviesa ir tiesa
Mūs žingsnius telydi.

Tegul meilė Lietuvos
Dega mūsų širdyse,
Vardan tos Lietuvos
Vienybė težydi.
The National Hymn

Lithuania, our homeland,
Land of heroes!
Let your sons draw their strength
From our past experience.

Let your children always follow
Only roads of virtue,
May your own, mankind’s well-being
Be the goals they work for.

May the sun above our land
Banish darkening clouds around
Light and truth all along
Guide our steps forever.

May the love of Lithuania
Brightly burn in our hearts.
For the sake of this land
Let unity blossom.

Before the First World War Warsaw was a very important city for Lithuanian intellectuals. Many prominent creators studied, created and lived here, among others the composer and painter Mikalojus Konstaninas Ćiurlionis. He led a Lithuanian chorus in Warsaw as well. Moreover, there was a poet Ksaveras Sakalauskas-Vanagelis, St. Kezura the composer or Vytautas Kairiukstis, the painter, graphic artist and creator of photomontage. Before the First World War in Warsaw there was even a
Lithuanian church granted by the countess Maria Radvilaite (Radziwiłłówna), who supported different Lithuanian activities in Warsaw.
The activity of Lithuanian Society in Warsaw was interrupted after the Second World War, when the Bolsheviks' government in a first period did not support any activity of national minorities. The activity revived already in the 60's when repatriates, usually the Lithuanians of Polish origin and the students from Suwałki and Puńsk organized themselves in the Polish Lithuanians' Society. Nowadays this society is called 'Lituanika' and it unites Lithuanians' majority living in Warsaw.

Lithuanians who live in Warsaw quite actively participate in cultural city life. In 2007 year a LDK (Lithuanian Artists' Company) - the group of artists of Lithuanian origin was created. Since then until now the group has already participated in 13 exhibitions in Poland and Lithuania. An artist Linas Domarackas is the initiator and the administrator of the group. The Company consists of young artists of Lithuanian nationality or origin. Nowadays, in LDK there are four people:
  • Alice Zimnicka - painting, fabric (Warsaw)
  • Linas Domarackas - painting, graphic arts (Warsaw)
  • Rytis Konstantinavičius - sculpture, ceramics (Vroclav)
  • Jonas Zagorskas - painting, videoart (Warsaw)
  • Alicja Bogacka and Artur Krechowski presented guest exhibitions of their works.

Lithuania which all artists of the Society are connected to is multicultural and multilingual. all artists of the Society derive from the variety more or less. On one hand a melting pot, on the other hand very discreet and thrifty colouring and composition causes, that Lithuanian artists are recognizable among other creators of the world.
Taking into account the fact that Lithuania was always open for other nationalities, artists
connected to the Company try to continue traditions and they seek or offer cooperation with different artistic groups that create current appearance of Europe. For the group’s sake the possibility of establishing connections and cooperation with artists of different nationalities is very important.
I think that it is an interesting proposal especially for Polish spectator who has an opportunity to become acquainted to both a close and such an unfamiliar neighbor whose roots and remembrance go back to the very beginning of Indo - European culture.
In Warsaw Romuald Mieczkowski a writer and a poet actively operates for promoting culture, arts and Lithuanian culture.
Under framework of co-operation with Mazovian Centre of Culture and Art he organized many exhibitions and literary meetings. For Polish readers for 20 years he has issued quarterly 'Znad Willi' in which in details he presents realities of Polish - Lithuanian co-operation.

Romuald Mieczkowski does not restrict his activity only to a promotion of Lithuanian culture in Poland. Together with Wanda Mieczkowska he runs Polish Gallery 'Znad Willi' in Vilnius where he organizes meetings with both artists of visual arts, writers, directors, Polish musicians and Lithuanian spectators.
Lithuanian Embassy and the Consulate of Lithuania in Warsaw play a very important role of Lithuanian minority. Jurgis Giedrys the Attache of Culture commonly cooperates and supports his countrymen's artistic ideas. He organizes meetings, exhibitions and he is an intermediary for artists' exchange of both countries.

Text: Linas Domarackas, June 2009, Warsaw
Translated by: Justyna Gąska

The article was pubished in 'Warszawa Litewska' released by Continent Warsaw which can be downloaded [ here ]