Antanas Smetona

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Smetona, Antanas


Born July 10, 1874, in the village of Užulenai, in what is now Ukmėrgė Raion; died Jan. 9, 1944, in Cleveland, Ohio. Lithuanian political figure. Fascist dictator of Lithuania in the period 1926–40. Publicist.

Smetona graduated from the faculty of law of St. Petersburg University in 1902. He became a member of the liberal bourgeois Lithuanian Democratic Party in 1903. He left the party in 1907 and founded and edited a number of bourgeois periodicals. In 1915, after the occupation of Lithuania by German troops, Smetona became head of the Lithuanian nationalists, who collaborated with the occupation forces. In September 1917, Smetona was elected to the bourgeois Lithuanian Council, later becoming chairman; he pursued a policy of restoring Lithuanian bourgeois state sovereignty under the aegis of Germany. In December 1918 he left Lithuania, which was engulfed by the workers’ struggle for Soviet power.

In 1919 and 1920, Smetona served as president of the bourgeois Lithuanian republic. From 1924 to 1940 he was leader of the Nationalist Party, which represented the interests of the big urban and rural bourgeoisie. Supported by reactionary officers, Smetona carried out a fascist coup in Lithuania in 1926. The dictatorial regime used terror to suppress the Communist Party, left-wing trade unions, and other workers’ organizations. Smetona strove to adapt the concepts of Italian fascism to Lithuanian conditions; he advocated the idea of national unity, class cooperation, and the “people’s leader,” which was to be based on a national elite. During the late years of his dictatorship, he attempted to turn Lithuania into a protectorate of Nazi Germany. In 1940, under conditions of a growing popular movement, Smetona fled to Germany; he later lived in the United States.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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All three became independent in 1918 and internationally recognised a few years after that, all three had democratic systems that were overthrown in coups conducted by Antanas Smetona in Lithuania in December 1926, Konstantin Pats in Estonia in March 1934, and Karlis Ulmanis in Latvia two months after the Estonian coup, all three were occupied first by the Bolsheviks, then by the Nazis, and then by the Bolsheviks again, all three suffered mightily under Soviet occupation, complete with fierce repression of local languages, mass deportations to Siberia, etc.
Antanas Smetona and His Lithuania: From the National Liberation Movement to an Authoritarian Regime (1893-1940)
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He chronicles conditions in the newly independent state; foreign diplomats' lives; details about the family of President Antanas Smetona, ruler of Lithuania from 1926-1940; and his changing attitudes toward the country.
Civil-Military Relations in Lithuania Under President Antanas Smetona 1926-1940.
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In February, Alfonsas Eidintas, diplomat (former Lithuanian ambassador in Israel and Norway) and historian, presented his book about the closest circle of pre-WWII Lithuanian President Antanas Smetona. Eidintas wrote one section about Smetona's view on Jews and Poles, because he was so fascinated by Smetona's liberal attitude to ethnic minorities and other nationalities in times when open racism became a norm in many European countries.
One of the best known personalities in the crowd of nudes is Antanas Smetona. He became one of the main founding fathers of Lithuania by signing the act of re-establishment of Lithuania's independence in Vilnius on Feb.