The History of Lithuania’s Independence Monument in Photographs
In 1928, the society of Joniškis decided to build a memorial to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Lithuania’s independency. In the same year, a monument, which was funded by the donations of local people, was unveiled in the central square of the town. The author of the monument - a famous architect, artist, professor Vladimir Dubeneckis (1888–1932).
On the 18th of November, 1928, the president of Lithuania Antanas Smetona attended the ceremony of unveiling and sanctifying the monument. In the press of that period, the monument was referred to as an original and beautiful piece of art. The monument was decorated with a metal coat of arms of the state, the crosses of the Catholics and Vytis, and the memorial plaque displayed the following words: “1918–1928. Hail you, Heroes, who lead the people to a free and independent life. May your work be an example and strength for us. For the dead, may the earth of Lithuania be easy on them, and may the Lord grant them eternal rest”.
The monument's environment was tastefully arranged: benches were built, flower beds in the shape of Vytis Cross and Columns of Gediminas were planted, a wooden fence was erected around the site.
Each year, public holidays and patriotic events were commemorated at the monument. Riflemen, scouts, members of the Catholic Youth Federation "Pavasaris" (“Spring”), and other organizations held their celebrations and commemorations there.
In the post-war years, all the symbols of statehood were removed from the monument of Independence. The soldiers of the Red Army who had been killed in Joniškis region, were buried nearby. After a pentagonal red star was fitted to the top of the monument, it was turned into a memorial dedicated to the dead soldiers of the Soviet Union. Later, next to the soldier's graves, a separate monument dedicated to the Soviet soldiers was erected, and the Independence monument was demolished in about 1961.
At the beginning of 1989, Joniškis Movement Initiative Group "Žiemgala" held a public debate concerning the restoration of the Independence Monument. After the debate, a commission for the restoration of the monument was elected, and the donations of the local people and organizations were
gathered. On the 2nd of October, 1989, the Independence monument was unveiled and sanctified. It was rebuilt at the same site based on the original project by professor V. Dubeneckis.
The photos selected for this virtual exhibition are from the collection of photographs of Joniškis History and Culture Museum.
The exhibition was prepared in the framework of the project „Centennial of Lithuania in the exhibits of Lithuanian museums”, which is supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The project is dedicated to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Restoration of the Lithuanian state.