John Szlupas to Jane Addams, June 9, 1920


Association of Friends of the University of Vilnius


[NEW YORK, N.Y.] Scranton 9/VI/20

Miss Jane Addams
Hull House, Chicago. Ill.

Dear Miss Addams:

Everybody remembers that during the World War America in the person of her chief executive, Pres. Woodrow Wilson, formulated the aims of the belligerent Powers, vid. that all nations, big or small, shall be freed from foreign yoke, and that democracy must be made secure, and in a large measure relying on these principles several new nations have been born.

Yet, soon came a puzzling hitch from unexpected quarters. Lithuania, once a powerful nation, but from 1795-1915 in the clutches of Czaristic Russia suffering persecutions and proscriptions, prohibitions and restrictions in all phases of life national life, in 1917 proclaimed her independence, and in May 1920 managed to call her Constituent Assembly at Kaunas, the temporary capital. Great Britain, the Scandinavian states, Switzerland, Italy and France gave Lithuania their recognition, at least de facto, whereas Poland and the United States are the only countries which do not mind the resurrection of the Lithuanian democracy. Is it because Lithuania unflinchingly acknowledged [page 2] all rights ↑of equality↓ before the law to the women of Lithuania and to the sons of Israel?

Let us see why?

Poland, inheriting the Bismarckian policy, with her rebirth became imperialistic and uses all means, mostly insidious and sinister, to subjugate Lithuania; Poland encroaches upon the Lithuanian territory and the Powers during one year set four demarcation lines, always cutting away slices of Lithuanian territory, and declaring that the Polish occupation is only temporary and has no significance as far as the ultimate determination of boundaries between the two countries is concerned. This is the cause why Lithuania is not in possession of her capital Vilnius and why more than one half of her territory is suffering from requisitions, oppression, and depredations of the Polish military and civil authorities.

The government of the U.S. seems to [endorse] this encroaching policy of Poland on the one hand, while on the other America seems to be in some moral obligation to support the reactionary elements of Russia who by trickery and propaganda, aggression and force have in vain [labored] to overthrow the [page 3] Bolsheviki regime. But, alas, neither the efforts of Admiral Kolchak, or Denikin and Yudenich, have accomplished anything, nor the adventures of Bermondt and Vyrgolich, though financed -- as it is rumored in Europe -- by American capital. Lithuania and Latvia have suffered terribly on account of these machinations, until at last the German and Russian marauding hordes were expelled by the insulted nation. Also the Bolsheviks were cleared out of country, and at present a settlement was reached in Moscow, whereby the Bolsheviki government recognized the independence of the Lithuanian nation.

The U.S. where almost a million of Lithuanian sons and daughters are toiling who duly contributed their share in recruits and Liberty loans and vied in the effort to support the Red Cross were least expected to hinder the evolution of the Lithuanian democracy by withholding the recognition to Lithuania. More than that. While the U.S. were extending their helping hand to all other peoples most graciously, the economic assistance to Lithuania is inconsiderable and -- I should say -- stingy. Could it be wondered at that the Lithuanians are getting uneasy at the discrimination and believe in Dr. Morrison, member of the Peace Conference in [page 4] Paris, who in an open letter said, that America intends to force Lithuania, although a well ordered country, back into Russia which is destined to [labor] of internal troubles for at least two generations?

In 1917 I visited Siberia and Russia and studied conditions there on the spot. In 1919 by the invitation of the British Govt. I went to London and ↑did↓ what I could for the Lithuanian people during four months; then, having spent two months in Paris, I reached Lithuania and served her in the capacity of her diplomatic Representative in Riga at the trying time of the Bermondt adventure. When back in Lithuania I [traveled] extensively, delivering lectures on government to the population and to the Lithuanian soldiery, and aiding in creation of cooperative societies, various economic corporations, and establishing the Lithuanian Steamship Line which shall run steamships between Memel and New York. I also had facilities to look into matters of education, and am glad to say that in one year 2,200 common schools have been established, 39  high-schools (they call them gymnasiums) and 15 intermediary schools (progymnasiums). Since the establishing ↑of↓ the Lithuanian University is interfered with by the Polish occupation of Vilnius [page 5] where the old academic buildings have now been made the seat of the Polish University the Lithuanians have been compelled to temporarily open their Higher Courses in the city of Kaunas. It might interest you to know that the English language is being taught in their high-schools, and that there exists one school where the teaching is conducted in English altogether (in the [3rd] and [4th] years).

But Lithuania lacks funds. Teachers are working hard, although underpaid; buildings are crippled, without necessary light and heating (in winter); benches are inadequate for pupils; books are scarce, the need is great in maps, laboratory implements etc. And notwithstanding all defects and shortage of appliances for teaching, there are over 80000 pupils in schools, and 700 students in the Higher Courses.

When I was leaving the U.S., the Minister of Education, Mr. Tubelis, and the Dean of High Courses, Mr. Žemaitis, gave me the authorization to collect funds for the schools in Lithuania and any implements or appliances useful in teaching and demonstration, or in the laboratory; but principally money is needed for the erection of better buildings and their outfitting. [page 6]

It was in 1918 when the Lith. intellectuals created a society -- the Association of Friends of the University of Vilnius, of which body I am Secretary. In the fall of that year, if I am not mistaken, I had the pleasure of meeting you, and after discussing matters of education we agreed to do what would be possible for the benefit of the Lith. youth, now attending schools or colleges. Also funds for scholarships are greatly needed for those who are devoid of means.

After coming home, May 30, from the European trip I resumed my efforts for the succor of students of Lithuania, and to you as the Honorary Member of the Association I apply with the heartfelt request to assist me in the work. You have wide acquaintances among Americans who are broadminded and wish to extend the benefits of education to all nations; why the Lithuanians should be excluded from the liberality and benevolence of the American philanthropists? Although the Govt. of America slights the Lith. nation, I am persuaded that the American people are heart and soul with those who have suffered the pangs of hunger and the oppression of the German army, but whose spirit was not broken or conquered. Though poor, the Lithuanians are proud of their [page 7] democracy and their independence, and elated that once again they can as free people enter the Society of Nations.

Please, write me what you could do for the Lith. schools and students? Could you submit a plan or suggest how we could with your cooperation accomplish the requests and prayers of the Minister of Education and the Dean of High Courses in Kaunas?

Thanking you in advance for all your favors

I beg to remain
Yours faithfully
Dr John Szlupas [signed]
↑1419 N. Main Ave
Scranton, Penn'a↓