Lithuanian Litas 10 Litu banknote 1938 "20 Years of Independence" Commemorative Issue

Lithuanian Litas 10 Litu banknote 1938 "20 Years of Independence" Commemorative Issue

Obverse: Photograph of Antanas Smetona, first President of Lithuania from 4 April 1919 to 19 June 1920. At right - Facsimile of the Act of Independence of Lithuania with twenty original signatures of signatories. The coat of arms of Lithuania, consisting of an armour-clad knight on horseback holding a sword and shield, is also known as Vytis at upper center. The Columns of Gediminas or Pillars of Gediminas at lower center.

Reverse: The original 20 members of the Council of Lithuania after signing the Act of Independence of Lithuania, 16 February 1918. Jonas Basanavičius is sitting in the center of the front row. Antanas Smetona is seated to his immediate right.

 - Standing: Kazimieras Bizauskas, Jonas Vailokaitis, Donatas Malinauskas, kun. Vladas Mironas, Mykolas Biržiška, kun. Alfonsas Petrulis, Saliamonas Banaitis, Petras Klimas, Aleksandras Stulginskis, Jokūbas Šernas, and Pranas Dovydaitis.
 - Sitting: Jonas Vileišis, Dr. Jurgis Šaulys, kun. Justinas Staugaitis, Stanislovas Narutavičius, Dr. Jonas Basanavičius, Antanas Smetona, kan. Kazimieras Steponas Šaulys, Steponas Kairys, and Jonas Smilgevičius.

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10 Litu 1938 "20 Years of Independence" Commemorative Issue

Antanas Smetona, 1st President of Lithuania
Antanas Smetona (born 10 August 1874, Ukmergė District, Lithuania, Russian Empire — died 9 January 1944, Cleveland), Lithuanian statesman and journalist was one of the most important Lithuanian political figures between World War I and World War II. He served as the first President of Lithuania from 4 April 1919 to 19 June 1920. He again served as the last President of the country from 19 December 1926 to 15 June 1940, before its occupation by the Soviet Union. He was also one of the most prominent ideologists of nationalism in Lithuania.
  After the Russian Revolution of 1905 broke out, Smetona, who had recently graduated from law school (1902), became editor of the first Lithuanian daily newspaper, Vilniaus Žinios, and of the Democratic Party’s organ, Lietuvos Ūkininkas; he was also elected to the presidium of the Vilnius Diet, which proclaimed Lithuanian autonomy within the Russian Empire (1905). Although the intensity of political activity declined after the revolution was suppressed, Smetona continued his journalistic career, editing the journal Viltis (1907–13) and founding Vairas (1913), which later became the organ of the Nationalist Party.
  During the German military occupation of the country in World War I, Smetona was unanimously elected president (in September 1917) of the Lietuvos Taryba, or Council of Lithuania, and, after the Taryba proclaimed Lithuania’s independence (1918), he served as provisional president of the republic (April 1919–June 1920). In 1921 he served as chairman of the Lithuanian delegation at Riga for the settlement of the Latvian–Lithuanian boundary dispute.
  After the military coup d’état of Dec. 16–17, 1926, organized by a right-wing Nationalist group and backed by the Christian Democrats, Smetona was again elected president of the Lithuanian Republic. He was reelected in 1931 and in 1938. On June 15, 1940, when Lithuania was occupied by Soviet forces, he fled to Germany and thence, in March 1941, to the United States.

Act of Independence of Lithuania, 16 February 1918
The Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Valstybės atkūrimo aktas) or Act of 16 February was signed by the Council of Lithuania on 16 February 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty representatives of the Council, which was chaired by Jonas Basanavičius. The Act of 16 February was the result of a series of resolutions on the issue, including one issued by the Vilnius Conference and the Act of 8 January. The path to the Act was long and complex because the German Empire exerted pressure on the Council to form an alliance. The Council had to carefully maneuver between the Germans, whose troops were present in Lithuania, and the demands of the Lithuanian people.
  The immediate effects of the announcement of Lithuania's re-establishment of independence were limited. Publication of the Act was prohibited by the German authorities, and the text was distributed and printed illegally. The work of the Council was hindered, and Germans remained in control over Lithuania. The situation changed only when Germany lost World War I in the fall of 1918. In November 1918 the first Cabinet of Lithuania was formed, and the Council of Lithuania gained control over the territory of Lithuania. Independent Lithuania, although it would soon be battling the Wars of Independence, became a reality.
  The laconic Act is the legal basis for the existence of modern Lithuania, both during the interwar period and since 1990. The Act formulated the basic constitutional principles that were and still are followed by all Constitutions of Lithuania. The Act itself was a key element in the foundation of Lithuania's re-establishment of independence in 1990. Lithuania, breaking away from the Soviet Union, stressed that it was simply re-establishing the independent state that existed between the world wars and that the Act never lost its legal power.
  On 29 March 2017, the original document was found at the Diplomatic archive in Berlin, Germany.

Council of Lithuania
The Council of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Taryba, German: Litauischer Staatsrat), after July 11, 1918 the State Council of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Valstybės Taryba) was convened at the Vilnius Conference that took place between 18 and 23 September 1917. The twenty men who composed the council at first were of different ages, social status, professions, and political affiliations. The council was granted the executive authority of the Lithuanian people and was entrusted to establish an independent Lithuanian state. On 16 February 1918, the members of the council signed the Act of Independence of Lithuania and declared Lithuania an independent state based on democratic principles. 16 February is celebrated as Lithuania's State Restoration Day. The council managed to establish the proclamation of independence despite the presence of German troops in the country until the autumn of 1918. By the spring of 1919, the council had almost doubled in size. The council continued its efforts until the Constituent Assembly of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Steigiamasis Seimas) first met on 15 May 1920.