Vilnius and the aftermath of Soviet intervention 1991. Funerals for the victims killed during the Soviet attack at the television station. G. Pinkhassov.
Lithuania has a glorious history and was among the largest European states in the Middle Ages, but was later conquered by its neighbors and disappeared from the world map. Lithuanians restored their national sovereignty in 1989 and started building an independent state. In 1939, Lithuania fell victim to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, leading to occupation and its incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1940. The Communist occupation launched brutal measures to destroy civil society, civil liberties, the habitual way of life and economic order. The powerful Catholic Church was put under heavy pressure. During the first year of occupation, Communist authorities arrested thousands of Lithuanians and arbitrarily executed hundreds of political prisoners. Some 17.730 persons were deported to Siberia in June 1941. During 1941-44, Lithuania was occupied by Nazi Germany, who initiated another wave of terror. The Red Amy returned in 1944 and Lithuania fell back under Soviet occupation. To suppress the Lithuanian armed resistance, Communist forces murdered thousands of resistance fighters and civilians accused of aiding them. As many as 300.000 were deported or sentenced to prison camps on political grounds. Lithuania lost 780.000 citizens as a result of Communist occupation, including 21.556 killed in the partisan war and 275.697 deported or sentenced to GULAG; about 25.000 died in WWII battles and 440.000 sought refuge abroad to escape Communist persecution. Lithuania officially restored its independence in 1990, but suffered another attack in 1991 when the Soviet army killed 13 demonstrators in Vilnius. Although Lithuania was able restore its independence, the wounds of occupation have yet to heal.