Lithuania Demographics 1937

Lithuania Demographics 1937

As of January 1, 1937, the republic’s population was 2,526,935, with an absolute increase over the 1933 valuation of 104,758 and an annual percentage increase of 10.8.

Despite the progressive reduction in births which fell from 29.4 per thousand in 1929 to 23.4 per thousand in 1935, the demographic increase is still significant (10.8 per thousand in 1936), equal to about 26,000 people every year.. However, the contraction of births is partly compensated by the decreased emigration which in 1936 took 1707 people away from the country.

As far as foreign trade is concerned, the world crisis has led to a very significant contraction in both exports and imports, with the advantage of Lithuania, however, since the former fell to a lesser extent than the latter. The trade balance is therefore clearly in favor of Lithuania.

From an administrative point of view, the districts into which the state is divided are now (1937) reduced to 20, each of which is in turn divided into 15 municipalities. In addition, there are 5 cities with rights equal to those of the districts.

Finance. – The rise in agricultural prices rather favorably influenced the economic development of Lithuania in 1936 and 1937, despite the obstacles deriving from the maintenance of the exchange rate with the pound sterling (between 28.85 and 29.67) and from currency control.

At December 31, 1937, the external public debt was 78.5 million and the internal one, all consolidated, was 40.1 million. As of December 31, 1937, notes in circulation amounted to 117 million and reserves to 79 in gold and 6 in foreign exchange. The exchange control has been in effect since October 1935.

History. – There are two fundamental directives that have determined the course of Lithuanian politics during the last four years: 1. the internal constitutional reform in a totalitarian sense pursued in the midst of violent, but always thwarted, opposition by President Antonio Smetona; 2. the question of Memel and the relations it implies with National Socialist Germany.

The constitutional reform wanted by Smetona and the relative clash between the government and the anti-government parties of the nation provoked a military pronouncement on 6-7 June 1934 which proclaimed the forfeiture of the Tubelis ministry and its replacement by the ex-president of the Valdemaras council. But the action failed and as a consequence there was the resignation of the Chief of Staff, the sentence of Valdemaras to 12 years of forced labor, a trial against 103 soldiers involved in the movement and a reshuffle in the Tubelis ministry. While thus defending itself internally, the Lithuanian government, joining the movement for an understanding between the Baltic states, convened a conference of ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Kaunas, aimed at laying the foundations for joint action, especially in the concerns of foreign policy, an understanding the details of which were more minutely fixed in a second conference held in Riga in August 1934. This understanding, at the further proposal of Russia, should also have been extended to the Soviet Union and to the three powers guaranteeing the status of Memel (France, England, Italy). But this, which should have been the eastern Locarno, effectively vanished, both because Germany and Poland did not show themselves in favor, and because the interests of the small states did not converge, since, while Lithuania was concerned above all with the hostility of the Germans, Estonia and Latvia rather feared Soviet pressure.

Meanwhile, despite the disagreements over Memel, on 6 August 1935 Germany and Lithuania entered into a trade agreement in Berlin based on the exchange of Lithuanian agricultural products against German manufactured goods. And the new chamber (Sept. 1935), all of a governmental color, under the direction of the president undertook an action aimed at restoring, with a policy of recollection, the economy of the country.

In order to establish the new authoritarian regime in an organic and complete way, the reform of the country’s constitution was required, aimed at giving the president greater powers than those in force granted him. The related project was presented to the offices of the parliament (Seimas), but its content is not yet known.

Meanwhile, in April 1938, a coup of force by Poland against Lithuania took place. Normal diplomatic, railway and postal relations had never been established between the two countries; and Lithuania had never ceased to proclaim Vilna as the historical capital of Lithuania. Now, the Polish government, following border incidents, peremptorily asked the Lithuanian government to restore normal diplomatic relations and communications, as well as the abolition of the mention of Vilna as the historical capital of the Lithuanian state. For a moment the situation turned out to be very tense, but, faced with the disproportionate balance of forces of the two countries, Lithuania yielded, declaring however that, as regards the suppressed claim of Vilna as the capital, it yielded to force majeure.

The Memel question (Klaipeda). РThe triumph of the National Socialist movement in Germany has hardened the question of Memel which was already a reason for contention between Lithuanians and Germans. In the city of Memel a powerful German organization (Sowoy) was formed during the first quarter of 1934, which already in April had made a first violent attempt to reunite the territory of Memel with Germany. The Lithuanian government intervened vigorously by dismissing the president of the Memel territory, purging the staff and dissolving (July 31) the diet, which provoked the protests in Berlin. The trial of the arrested ended on March 26, 1935 with the death sentence of the 4 main defendants, transformed by the president into perpetual imprisonment. For Lithuania 2000, please check

Meanwhile, to settle the political situation of the territory, the Lithuanian government called the elections which were held on September 29, 1935, according to a new law that set the electorate at 24 years and eligibility at 30, excluding from the list of those eligible for those who judicial authorities judged dangerous for the state. Two lists were presented, one mixed, from which 14 Germans and 10 Lithuanians were elected and one Lithuanian, which gave only 5 elected members. After the elections, the establishment of the new directorate under the presidency of Baldsus took place on 3 October.

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