Central Lithuania

Central Lithuania Flag

Central Lithuanian Flag

Status: 1920-1922, self-proclaimed republic
Stamps Issued: 1920-1922
Currency: 100 fennigi = 100 markka
Current Status: Part of Lithuania
Location: Europe on the Baltic Sea
Population: 600,000 (approx)
Capital: Vilnius

Historical Dates:

  • 1918: At the end of World War I, Lithuania declares Independence (16 February 1918) from Russia and Germany.
  • 1920: The Russian Red Army occupies Vilnius and the central area of Lithuania. Polish Army defeats the Russians at Warsaw and the Russians withdraw from Vilnius, handing it back to Lithuania.
  • 1920: A Polish-Lithuanian war erupts on August 26. Local Polish inhabitants and a rogue Polish military division force the Lithuanian military out of Vilnius, secretly supported by the Polish government.
  • 1920: The Republic of Central Lithuania proclaimed on October 12. Poland denies involvement but recognizes the state. Stamps Issued.
  • 1922: Elections in January led to a Polish ethnic government, which then requested union with Poland.
  • 1922: Central Lithuania becomes part of Poland.
  • 1939: Soviet Union invades eastern Poland, and hands Central Lithuania back to Lithuania, along with parts to Byelorussia (Belarus).
Central Lithuania, 1921

Fig1: Central Lithuania, 1921

Central lirhuania, 1921 boundaries

Fig 2: Central Lithuania, 1921 boundaries

Central Lithuania today

Fig 3: Central lithuania, where it would be today

1920_Central_Lithuania_Stamp_Overprints_1

Fig 4: 1920 Polish stamps overprinted for use in Central Lithuania

The first stamps issued on November 23, 1920 consisted of stamps of Lithuania overprinted for use in Central Lithuania.

The overprint is inscribed:

SRODKOWA LITWA
[Value in Markka]
[Image of Shield]
POCZTA

Srodkowa Litwa is Polish for Central Lithuania, Poczta for postage.

There were four different values, 2m, 4m, 6m and 10m, overprinted on various stamps, for a total of ten different stamps. However, many printing varieties exist.

Shortly after, stamps specifically inscribed for Central Lithuania were issued, depicting the arms of the country.

Three values were issued, 25r, 1m and 2m. They were printed on paper of varying quality and several shades exist. They were issued perforated and imperforated (Fig. 5). Scott Catalogue lists these stamps as the first three for Central Lithuania, despite being issued after the overprints.

The three values were later issued in different colours and also overprinted as semi-postal stamps.

Central_Lithuania_1920_Arms_25f_shades

Fig 5: Central Lithuania 1920 25f Arms, different shades

Central_Lithuania_1921_Pictorials

Fig 6: Central Lithuania 1921 pictorial stamps. Holy gate of Vilnas, Warrior and a Lithuanian girl.

The first commemorative stamps were also issued in 1920. The set consisted of six different values of rather simple, crude designs, appearing as if hand drawn (Fig. 6).

Central Lithuania also issued “back of the book” stamps, semi-postals and postage due stamps in 1920-21.

An interesting semi-postal set, Scott #B1-B6 consists of the Arms issue, overprinted “NA SLASK”, which means “For Silesia”. A surcharge of 2 markka was added for each stamp. This was intended to assist the Polish side in the plebiscite that was to be held in Eastern Silesia.

Eastern Silesia and Upper Silesia were part of Austrian Silesia, but after the fall of the Empire after World War II, plebiscites were planned to be held in both areas to determine which countries the inhabitants wished to join. A short war was fought between Poland and Czechoslovakia over Eastern Silesia and the plebiscite was never held.

Central Lithuania Semi-postal stamp for Silesia plebiscite.

Central Lithuania Semi-postal stamp for Silesia plebiscite.

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