vyrud (vyrud) wrote,

100 years for Palanga in Republic of Lithuania

Palanga is one of the most iconic places in Lithuania. Today it is hard to believe that 100 years ago we were by few inches of the situation that Palanga would be non - Lithuanian ... But yes, then we were really very close from such situation:

This weekend in Palanga will be held some activities to commemorate 100th anniversary when Palanga returned back to Lithuania. The return in fact occured in April but the best time to commemorate something in resort is of course summer time :)
Palanga is one of the oldest towns in Lithuania: archeological excavations tells us that in the Xth century here ancient town (town not the village) appeared. Some professionals believe that in Palanga first stone buildings in Lithuania were built and may be even first church was built. That's not big surprise because Palanga was the place were vikings liked to arrive for trade with local people. As a result some town grown up in the place.  In 1161 in Danish chronicles we found description about successful attack of Danes on castorum Palanga. Despite that many modern historians think that this was an exaggeration but Palanga was big and famous enough to be an object for imaginable attack in then times Denmark.
The situation changed signiificantly in later centuries when the glory and power of vikings faded away: the new leaders in the region - Livonian and Teutonic knights and Hanseatic merchants - founded and used as their trading points and strongholds other places: modern Klaipeda, modern Lepaja, etc. The old Palanga gradually died. But allways this narrow strip of Baltic sea belonged to Lithuania (MDL in that period). The map shows situation in XVII-XVIIIth centuries:

But then came the year 1795 when the areas of modern Lithuania were occupied and annexed by Russian empire. It is not well known fact but in 1820 Russian authorities decided to cut off small seaside strip from Lithuanian provinces and to join them to Courland provinces:

In 1918-1919 newly born modern Lithuania and Latvia largely agreed on their common border. But one significant difference existed: Lithuania wanted as the basis the border of 1795 between MDL and Duchy of Courland while Latvian side wanted the borders between Kaunas governory and Courland governory from the Russian empire period as the basis. These borders were almost identical. Except one place - Palanga ... For some time Palanga became part of Latvia. E.g. here is the map of Latvia from 1920:

Here you can see Latvian soldiers guarding border between Latvia and Germany at the southernmost outskirts of Palanga (Klaipeda still was part of Germany):  (photos from National Library of Latvia online archives)

Latvian soldiers in various parts of Palanga:

The situation was exceptionally painfull for Lithuania since it seemed that country will not get Klaipeda, will lose Vilnius. And will lose even Palanga. But leaders of two countries were wise enough to transfer the question to international court. Here we need to introduce James Young Simpson - one the main streets in Palanga is called J. Simpson street:

Being scientist and being of Scotish origin he became interested in peoples living on the eastern part of Baltic sea in the last decades of XIXth century: he traveled to Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Estonia and Belarus, studied history of these lands, etc. So British government delegated J. Y. Simpson as the independent judge to solve the issue. He and his people worked many months before making final decision: due to historical reasons , because residents of Palanga were allways of Catholic faith, because Latvia anyway has huge seaside areas while for Lithuania this could be element of exceptional imoprtance  Palanga must belong to Lithuania. At the same time Lithuania must compensate Latvia transferring twice as big area in the region of Birzai. So since April of 2021 Palanga is part of Lithuania. On photo you can see Lithuanian soldiers arriving to Palanga while Latvian soldiers leaving the town: (photo from Central state archive of Lithuania):

Palanga now is indivisibly associated with Lithuania

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