Union for the Liberation of Vilnius and the Vilno Myth in Inter-war Lithuania
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The Union for the Liberation of Vilnius was founded in the Republic of Lithuania in 1925 to sustain the idea of regaining Vilno, which since 1920 remained in Polish hands. According to universally held convictions, the town was 'occupied' by Poland. For more than ten years the work conducted by the Union exerted an immense impact on the origin of the Vilnius myth in Lithuanian society, to be recognised as one of the most important factors decisive for shaping modern Lithuanian national identity. The leaders of all levels of the Union acted for purely ideological motives. Union activity was addressed primarily to young people, presented with a carefully devised and highly emotional vision of an 'occupied Lithuania' and Polish-Lithuanian relations. Suitably selected forms of impact produced a firmly enrooted, simplified, and stereotype perception of the complicated question of Vilno. An essential part was played by a campaign intent on stimulating sociopolitical life and borrowing its measures from American tradition, such as meetings immersed in an aura of emotional symbols, publications, souvenirs, and the application of elements of popular culture. The myth created during the inter-war period, and portraying 'occupied Lithuania', produced a number of consequences which up to this very day are discernible in the views endorsed by Lithuanian public opinion and even scientific studies.
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