Flag of Lithuania
The flag of Lithuania (Lietuvos vėliava) consists of a horizontal tricolor of yellow, green, and red. It was adopted on 25 April 1918 during Lithuania's first period of independence (in the 20th century) from 1918 to 1940, which ceased with the occupation first by Soviet Russia and Lithuania's annexation into the Soviet Union, and then by Nazi Germany (1941–1944). During the post-World War II Soviet occupation, from 1945 until 1989, the Soviet Lithuanian flag consisted first of a generic red Soviet flag with the name of the republic, then changed to the red flag with white and green bars at the bottom.
The flag was then re-adopted on 20 March 1989, almost a year before the re-establishment of Lithuania's independence and almost three years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last alteration to the current flag occurred in 2004, when the aspect ratio changed from 1:2 to 3:5.
The earliest known flags with a Lithuanian identity were recorded in the 15th-century Banderia Prutenorum, written by Jan Długosz. At the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, two distinct flags were present. The majority of the 40 regiments carried a red banner depicting a mounted knight in pursuit. This flag, known as the Vytis, would eventually be used as the Lithuanian war flag, and again in 2004 as the state flag. The remainder of the regiments carried a red banner displaying the Columns of Gediminas. Those that bore the Vytis, also known as the Pahonia, were armies from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while those who bore the Columns of Gediminas were from noble families of Lithuania. Until the end of the 18th century, when it was annexed by the Russian Empire, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania used the Vytis as its flag.
The birth of the yellow, green, and red tricolor occurred during a drive by other European republics to change their flags. One example that gave life to the idea of the tricolor was the French blue, white, and red flag adopted after the French Revolution. The only tricolor that existed for Lithuania before the yellow, green, and red flag was a green, white, and red flag used to represent Lithuania Minor.
It is not known who originally suggested the yellow, green, and red colors, but the idea is usually attributed to Lithuanian exiles living elsewhere in Europe or in the United States during the 19th century. These three colors were frequently used in folk weavings and traditional dress. At the Great Seimas of Vilnius of 1905, this flag was favored over the Vytis banner as the flag of the Lithuanian nation. The Vytis, strongly advocated by Jonas Basanavičius, was not chosen for three reasons: the first was that as part of the drive for national identity, the Seimas wished to distance itself somewhat from the flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which also encompassed now-distinct nations such as Belarus and Ukraine. The second issue was the choice of the color red by revolutionaries who aligned themselves with Marxist or Communist causes. And finally, the flag with Vytis would be too complicated and could not be easily sewn.
Debates about the national flag occurred again in 1917 during the Vilnius Conference. Two colors, green and red, were chosen based on their prevalence in folk art. Artist Antanas Žmuidzinavičius decorated the conference hall with small red and green flags. However, the delegates did not like the design as it was too dark and gloomy. Then Tadas Daugirdas suggested adding a narrow strip of yellow (to symbolize the rising sun) in between the red (clouds lit up by the morning sun) and green (fields and forests). However, the delegates decided that the matter should be settled by a special commission, composed of Basanavičius, Žmuidzinavičius, and Daugirdas. On 19 April 1918, they submitted their final protocol to the Council of Lithuania. The flag was supposed to be a tri-color (yellow at the top, green in the middle, and red at the bottom) with Vytis in the upper left corner or in the middle. The Council accepted the proposal, but the 1922 Constitution of Lithuania did not include any mention of the coat of arms. It adopted the national flag that is used today. Any of the debates failed to produce a historical flag. Discussions of the national flag continued; its opponents considered gold an inappropriate color, since the combination of yellow, green, and red did not follow the existing rules of heraldry. However, no changes were made during the inter-war period.
During World War II, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union (1940–1941, 1944–1990) and Nazi Germany (1941–1944). The use of the national flag during this period was prohibited and prosecuted. Two flags were used during the period of Soviet occupation (1944–1989): immediately after the war, the flag consisted of a red field, golden hammer and sickle with the Latin characters LIETUVOS TSR (Lithuanian SSR in the Lithuanian language) above them in gold sans-serif lettering. That flag was replaced in 1953 by the last flag used by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic—a red flag, with the hammer and sickle and star in the hoist. At the bottom of the flag, a white and green horizontal bar was placed. The red portion of the flag took 2⁄3 of the flag's width, the white 1⁄12 and the green 1⁄4.
Country - Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (1918–1919)
The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (LSSR) was a short-lived Soviet republic declared on December 16, 1918, by a provisional revolutionary government led by Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas. It ceased to exist on February 27, 1919, when it was merged with the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia to form the Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Litbel). While efforts were made to represent the LSSR as a product of a socialist revolution supported by local residents, it was largely a Moscow-orchestrated entity created to justify the Lithuanian–Soviet War. As a Soviet historian, adhering to official propaganda, put it: "The fact that the Government of Soviet Russia recognized a young Soviet Lithuanian Republic unmasked the lie of the USA and British imperialists that Soviet Russia allegedly sought rapacious aims with regard to the Baltic countries." Lithuanians generally did not support Soviet causes and rallied for their own national state, declared independent on February 16, 1918, by the Council of Lithuania.
Germany had lost World War I and signed the Compiègne Armistice on November 11, 1918. Its military forces then started retreating from the former Ober Ost territories. Two days later, the government of the Soviet Russia renounced the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had assured Lithuania's independence. Soviet forces then launched a westward offensive against Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in an effort to spread the global proletarian revolution and replace national independence movements with Soviet republics. Their forces followed retreating German troops and reached Lithuania by the end of December 1918.