Lithuanian-Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lithuanian-Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic


(Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania and Byelorussia; Litbel), a Soviet republic created by the merger of the Lithuanian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR (February-August 1919), which was brought about because of their common political and economic interests and was intended to strengthen their defensive capabilities as the Civil War and foreign intervention of 1918–20 grew more intense.

The creation of Litbel was proposed by V. I. Lenin and recommended by the Central Committee of the RCP(B) in late January 1919. The First Congress of Soviets of Byelorussia (Minsk, February 2–3) and, subsequently, the First Congress of Soviets of Lithuania (Vilnius, February 18–20) adopted a declaration on the merger of the two republics. A joint session of the Central Executive Committees of Lithuania and Byelorussia was held in Vilnius on Feb. 27, 1919. It proclaimed the formation of Litbel and elected a united government, the Council of People’s Commissars (chairman, V. S. Mickevičius-Kapsukas; Z. I. Angarietis, M. lu. Kalmanovich, J. Leŝčinskis-Lenskis, and I. S. Unŝlichtas), and a united central committee (chairman, K. Cichovskis; secretary, R. Pileris; and J. Doleckis, S. V. Ivanov, P. Svotelis, and Unŝlichtas). Vilnius was the capital of Litbel, and it included Minsk and Wilno provinces and the unoccupied parts of Kovno and Grodno provinces. The western and southwestern parts of Litbel were in hands of German and Polish invaders and local counterrevolutionary forces. A joint congress of the Communist Parties (Bolshevik) of Byelorussia and Lithuania on March 4–6 approved the creation of Litbel, formed a united Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Lithuania and Byelorussia, and elected its Central Committee. The presidium of the Central Committee consisted of Mickevičius-Kapsukas (chairman) and Angarietis, V. Boguckis, Doleckis, Ivanov, Kalmanovich, V. G. Knoriņŝ (secretary), A. F. Miasnikov, Unŝlichtas, Cichovskis, and V. I. Iarkin.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party and with the support of the RSFSR and the Ukrainian SSR, a great deal of work was accomplished on military, economic, and national tasks (decrees on the nationalization of industry, banks, and railroads; on universal education; on the separation of church and state; on universal labor obligation; and on the equality of nationalities). Litbel waged a difficult struggle against the invaders and domestic counterrevolutionary forces. On April 8, in connection with the threatened seizure of Vilnius by Polish legionnaires, the republic was placed under martial law. The Council for Defense, consisting of Mickevičius-Kapsukas (chairman), Kalmanovich, and Unŝlichtas, was formed on April 19; it assumed complete military and state authority in the republic. E. B. Bosh, Knoriņŝ, and Cichovskis were subsequently made members of the council.

The government of Litbel moved to Minsk after the seizure of Vilnius (Apr. 21, 1919) by troops of bourgeois Poland. On July 19 the Council of People’s Commissars of Litbel passed a law transferring all its affairs to the Minsk Provincial Revolutionary Military Committee.


Bor’ba za Sovetskuiu vlast’ v Belorussii: 1918–1920, vol. 2. Minsk, 1971.
Bor’ba za Sovetskuiu vlast’ v Litve v 1918–1920 gg.: Sb. dokumentov. Vilnius, 1967.
Shkliar, E. N. Bor’ba trudiashchikhsia Litovsko-Belorusskoi SSR s inostrannymi interventami i vnutrennei kontrrevoliutsiei (1919–1920 gg). Minsk, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.