Last modified: 2006-01-21 by dov gutterman
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image by eljko Heimer, 23 October 2004
Official Name: Republic of Lithuania
Previous Name: Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic
Location: Baltic Eastern Europe
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy
Flag adopted: 1 September 2004 (Originally Adopted 20 March 1989)
Coat of arms adopted: 20 September 1991
ISO Code: LT
On 1st September, 2004 a new law concerning the flag has come
into force. As a result of this, it has changed the measurements
of the flag - they used to be 1:2, and since 1st September they
are 3:5. Besides, the State flag has been legalized. The state
flag is red and has a national emblem of Lithuania in the centre
Timas Pelanis, 20 October 2004
There is a document on recent flag legislation coming from the
Lithuanian parliament at <www3.lrs.lt>.
But unfortunately only in Lithuanian and with no drawings. The
headlines in English is:
Updated Legal Document I-1497 2004.07.08
2004.07.08 : Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
2004.07.08 Prepared by: Office of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Information Technology Department since 2004.09.01
Descriptors: amendment of a law, flag, national flag, public holiday".
Jan Oskar Engene and eljko Heimer, 22 October 2004
According to <www.geraldika.ru>
, the new flag law of Lithuania (since 1 Sept. 2004) set the flag
ratio as 3:5 (instead of 1:2). No data about naval ensign and
Jan Zrzavy, 22 October 2004
1. The historical flag of Lithuania (it is the one I called
the state flag) has been legalized during the First Republic of
Lithuania (1918-1940). But the state flag was a three-colour flag
(yellow, green and red), as it is now. The historical flag, as
written in article 2 of Law on The Flag of The Republic of
Lithuania and Other Flags, is the historical symbol of the State
of Lithuania, the red cloth, in the centre of which there is
Vytis - a silver knight on the white horse, holding a silver
sword in his right hand over his head. By the left shoulder of
the knight there is a blue shield with a gold double cross. The
saddle, saddlecloth and belts are blue. The hilt of the sword,
the bridle bit, the stirrup and spur, the metal details of the
sheath and horse clothing are gold. Truly, the flag was
legalized, but it is not widely used. The law says the flag is
hoisted on historical holidays such as 16th February (Day of
Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania), 11th March (Day of
Re-establishment of Lithuania's Independence), 6th July
(Statehood Day), 15th July (Grunwald Battle Day), 25th October
(Constitution Day) and by historically significant buildings.
2. The law gives exact proportions for the flag. The article 3 of the law says the proportions of the width and length of the State flag and the historical flag shall be 3:5. Usually, the flag flown on the buildings, is 1 m wide and 1.7 m long, as well as the historical flag. The measurements of the State flag and the historical flag can be different, but the ratio of their width and length must always be 3:5. The Law on The Coat of Arms does not give any exact proportions for the emblem.
Timas Pelanis, 28 October 2004
See also: Lithuania - Flag Legislation
image by eljko Heimer, 15 May 2002
The revived state flag of Lithuania is the same as pre-war state flag. According to
information received by the list the flag was re-introduced by a
Law dated 1 September 2004, and differs from the its earlier
version in that the reverse is now the same as the obverse
Christopher Southworth, 20 January 2004
The first of the former SSRs to break decisively with Moscow,
Lithuania adopted its old tricolour as its official state flag in
March 1989. Like the other Baltic states, and indeed, the other
captive nations of the former USSR, the flag had been used during
Lithuania's previous period of independence from Russia - from
1918 to 1940. In the flag, yellow stands for grain, green for
forests, and red for the blood shed in defense of the nation.
According to the Grossen Flaggenbuch, the first horizontal
triband adopted as Lithuanian national flag after WWI had the
proportions 3:2. The current national flag, with proportions 2:1,
is therefore not strictly a readoption of the pre-WWII flag.
Ivan Sache, 9 March 1998
The state flag of the Republic of Lithuania is cloth consisting of three horizontal stripes: yellow (the upper), green (the middle) and red (the lower). The colours of the flag arise from various aspects of nature and Lithuanian values. The ratio of the width and length of the flag is 1 to 2. In olden times, Lithuanians had many flags. During the Zalgiris battle, the flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was red, with white coat of arms, the Vytis, embroidered on it. The Lithuanian public renewed discussion as to what the Lithuanian national flag ought to be only towards the end of the 19th century. Various combinations of two or tree colours prevailing in traditional national dresses (red, yellow, green, white) were used in national flags. The present-day flag and its colours were chosen by a special commission (Jonas Basanavicius, Tadas Daugirdas, Antanas Zmuidzinavicius) set up by the provisional supreme body of state power - the Lithuanian Council - of Lithuanian state under restoration. On April 19, 1918 the Lithuanian Council approved the design proposed by the commission. After Lithuania's occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union, the flag was placed under a ban and anyone flying it incurred severe punishment. A great many of these flags appeared at various rallies held by the Sajudis movement in the summer of 1988. Soon the flag was legalized: first, recognized as the national and later as the state flag on November 18, 1988, and on June 26, 1991 (the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania law " On the state flag of the Republic of Lithuania").
Dov Gutterman 17 April 1999
Official Lithuanian tricolor is not based on Lithuanian
heraldic tradition, but still was legitimized in 1918. Many
Lithuanian intellectuals weren't satisfied with this
unexplainable flag with no heraldic tradition and new tricolor
project was offered in February, 1940. This flag was exactly the
same size as existing tricolor, so were lines of colors. Only
combination was different: white-yellow-red. This combination was
based on Lithuanian coat-of-arms colors, white - color of figure,
red - color of background, yellow - color of details. Such
forming of tricolors on coat-of-arms colors base is rather usual.
Legitimization of new tricolor was seriously considered, and
probably would have occured, but Soviet occupation in June, 1940
interrupted the proccess.
Giedrius Kiaulakis, 19 January 2001
From Album 2000 [pay00] -
National Flag (CSW/C-- 1:2) - Horizontal tricolour of
yellow-over-green-over-red. As is already correctly noted by
Ivan, modern flag is ratio 1:2, while the pre-WWII one was,
according to [neu92] in ratio 2:3.
eljko Heimer, 13 May 2002
Specification of the colors of flag of Lithuania in CMYK are:
Yellow - C0/M30/Y100/K0
Green - C100/M55/Y100/K0
Red - C25/M100/Y100/K0.
Given by Heraldic Comission of Lithuania.
Robertas Jucaitis, 17 January 2003
The dark shade of the green was already in use in 1918.
Perhaps is a coming to the roots or they are trying to
diferentiate from african countries (where light shades are in
use). In flag Report 14 we can read:
German Ocupation - The territory of Lithuania remained occupied by German forces during most of the war. There existed a flag in the Smaller Lithuania (Region of Memel) with the colors green, white and red (casually the Hungarian colors reverted). These colors were also those of a Konigsberg-based Lithuanian students association since 1829 and other in Tilsit since 1885. The Lithuanians of Russia also adopted this flag during World War I. Togheter with this flag, Jonas Basanavicius proposed to readopt the traditional flag, red with the white knight. In the Conference of San Petersburgo of 1917 Adomas Varnas proposed a variation in the knight who would be endowed with a torch, and with blue background (perhaps derived from an ancient military flag).
Lithuanian Tariba (Council) (Sept. 1917) - The Lithuanian National Council was created in September under the control of the Allies and with very little influence in the country. As the Lithuanians were using various flags and no one had yet prevailed as the national one, the Council adopted de facto a flag green over red. On 11 December 1917 the Lithuanian National Council proclaimed the independence of the country, but the German troops were still there. In February 1918 Germany allowed the proclamation of independence from Russia but kept the occupation regime.
Lithuania State (February 1918) - A special commission ruled that the colors of Lithuania would be yellow, green and red. It was approved on 19 April 1918. Initially the shade of red and green was very dark, later to turn to a medium shade.
Kingdom of Lituania (July 1918) - In May 1918, after the peace with Russia (Brest-Litovsk) this country resigned its rights on the region. Germany agreed to recognize the independence of Lithuania provided that its government would be satisfactory for the German interest. In July 1918 Germany proposed the creation of an independent Lithuanian state, in the form of a Kingdom, that would be in perpetual alliance with the German Empire. There were negotiations with prince William of Urach (of the royal dynasty of Wuttemberg) to be offererd the crown (July) but the pressures of the annexionist groups made the attempt to fail. In November, the German defeat supposed the end of the project. The Lithuanian National Council, supported by the Entente, took the power and established a Constitution in November 1918. on 11 November 1918 the national flag was hoisted. No flag different from the one adopted by the National Council was designed for the hypothetical Kingdom of Lithuania.
Jaume Olle', 28 Febuary 2003
From The Heraldry of Lithuania, Vol. 1, Vilnius 1998:
"The Lithuanian State (National) Flag
Description - The State flag of the Republic of Lithuania is the national flag. It consists of a cloth which is made up of three equal horizontal bands: yellow on top, green in the middle, red on the bottom. The relationship of the width of the flag to the length is 1:2.
Overview - Flags have been used as identifying signs since ancient times. They were most popular in warfare during the Middle Ages, when even army units were named after their banners. The Lithuanian flag is mentioned for the first time in the chronicles of Vygand of Marburg. He wrote that in 1337, during the battle at Bajerburg castle (near Veliuona), Tilman Zumpach, head of the riflemen of the Crusaders, used a flaming lance to burn the Lithuanian flag, before mortally wounding the Duke of Trakai. But the chronicler did not describe what this flag looked like. Much more is known about Lithuania's later flags. In the 15th C., J. Dlugosz claimed that Vytautas brought 40 regiments, all carrying red banners, to the Battle of Tannenberg. Thirty of the banners were embroidered with an armoured knight holding a raised sword and riding a white, black, bay, or dappled horse, while ten bore the embroidered device with which Vytautas branded his horses (the Columns of the Gediminas family). According to J. Dlugosz, these banners were named after territories or dukes: Vilnius, Kaunas, Trakai, Medininkai, Zygimantas Kaributas, Semionas Lengvenis, etc. It is thought that the regiments bearing the Columns of the Gediminas family were brought from the territories of Vytautas' patrimonial estates (the Trakai Duchy), and those bearing the knight from the other regions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the Middle Ages the concept of a ruler and a State were one and the same. Thus it is doubtful that we would ever find Information about the flag of the State of Lithuania during the 15th C., because back then, the Grand Duke represented the State. A distinction emerged only in the 16th C. From then on one also finds the State flag being mentioned. The first to describe it was Alexander Guagnini in 1578. The flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was made of red silk and had four points. Its principal side, the one on the right from the flag staff, was charged with a white mounted knight underneath the ducal crown, and the other with the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron of Lithuania. Later only the knight is mentioned as being embroidered on both sides of the flag. The red flag of the State with its white knight survived until the end of the 18th C.
National flags composed of bands appeared later. The French revolution of 1789, which replaced the royal white flag in use up to that time with the tricolour: red-white-blue (the edge colours later changed position), was the greatest impetus for their transformation. Three equal bands meant the equality of all before the law, as did the new slogan: Freedom-Equality-Fraternity, which is used to this day on the emblem of the French Republic. By the 19th C., most European States had national tricoloured flags. Normally they were composed of the colours of the State coat of arms. Thus the German flag is made up of the colours of the black eagle with red talons and beak on a field of gold: black-red-gold; the Belgian flag, black-yellow-red - bears the colours of the golden lion with red claws on a field of black. Other states like Denmark and the Scandinavian countries assigned their old flags the status of national flag. The crosses depicted on their flags were the symbols of the patron saints of those countries.
In Lithuania, which belonged to the Russian Empire from the end of the 18th C., a national movement developed under exceptionally difficult conditions. Thus flags which aspired to the status of a national flag, first appeared abroad. Perhaps the oldest and most constant was the green-white-red flag of Lithuania Minor, known from the 17th C. American Lithuanian associations began to use double or tricoloured flags in the second half of the 19th C. It is known that there were white-blue, white-red-blue, red-yellow-blue flags, and there is mention in 1912 of a red-green-yellow flag, in 1914 of a yellow-green-red one, as well as other colour combinations. The variety of flags can be explained by the fact that the groups of Lithuanians were divided and scattered, with no strong unifying center which could consolidate one version. There was merely the idea of a national flag.
Discussions in Lithuania re the national flag began at the 1905 Lithuanian Congress in Vilnius. J. Basanavicius thought that the flag of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - the white knight on red - was the most fitting. But the majority of Congress participants did not agree, because for them the colour red evoked unwelcome associations of revolution. Discussion vis-?-vis the national flag was renewed again in 1917, with the opening up of prospects for the restoration of sovereignty. At a meeting J. Basanavicius and Lithuanian public activists decided that the flag's colours might be found in ethnic weavings. A. Zmuidzinavicius took on the task, and subsequently decorated the hall of the Vilnius City Theatre, which hosted a Lithuanian Conference in September 1917, with small green-red flags. The conference delegates did not like the two-colour flag A. Zmuidzinavicius had created; they found it far too gloomy. A special commission made up of J. Basanavicius, A. Zmuidzinavicius and T. Daugirdas was formed to create a flag. They decided to supplement the two colours with yellow. In the beginning T. Daugirdas suggested inserting a narrow yellow band between the red and green, claiming that such a combination would symbolize the dawn very well. After long argument, on April 19, 1918, the commission finally decided that the Lithuanian national flag had to be made up of three horizontal bands of equal width: yellow-green-red. Yellow meant the sun, light, and goodness, green symbolized the beauty of nature, freedom, and hope, and red stood for the land, courage, and the blood which had been spilled for the Homeland. Soon after the Council of Lithuania confirmed the national flag, and also approved the historical one charged with the mounted white knight on one side, and the Columns of the Gediminas family on the other. However in 1922, the Lithuanian Constitution acknowledged only the tricolour flag, and named it the State flag. The ancient historical one was not officially legalized, but was later used by the President of the Republic. It must be said that before the war there was a great deal of discussion about the colours of the national flag. On May 8, 1940, the State Heraldry Commission had even decided to present the President with a new project for the flag. The yellow-green-red was to be replaced by yellow-red-white. In addition one side was to be charged with an image of the mounted knight, and the other with the Columns of the Gedminas family. The colours were taken from the coat of arms created in 1934. But further decisions were suspended by political changes.
On September 27, 1940 after the Soviets occupied Lithuania, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR replaced the tricolour with a red flag. The canton was charged with the golden inscription "Lithuanian SSR" above a golden hammer and sickle. In 1950 Moscow ordered every republic to manufacture tricoloured flags, whose upper half was to be red, and whose lower half could be of their own choosing. On July 15, 1953 the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR confirmed a new red-white-green flag. Its upper red band took up two-thirds (or eight-twelfths) of the cloth, the middle white band one-twelfth, and the bottom green three-twelfths. This flag was used until 1988. By the summer of 1988 the old tricolour had begun to fly during events held by Lithuania's Sajudis and other public organizations. It was officially hoisted on Gediminas Castle Tower in Vilnius for the first time after the war, at 10:00 on October 7, 1988. On November 18 at the tenth session of its eleventh convention, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR was forced to change a chapter of the Constitution, and to grant the yellow-red-green flag the status of State flag. The colours of the flag (yellow approximating orange, a rich green, and red approximating purple) were recreated according to flags of the Independent Republic of Lithuania which had been preserved by museums and private individuals. It was confirmed by the Presidium of the Supreme Council on January 25 1989."
Audrius Slapsinskas, 24 June 2003
image by eljko Heimer, 13 May 2002
image by eljko Heimer, 13 May 2002
The following was written by Reuters at <news.excite.com>:
Prime Minister Faces Fine for Failing to Fly Flag (Updated 11:24 AM ET February 26, 2001).
VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuanian Premier Rolandas Paksas could be fined for failing to fly the country's flag at his home on Saturday to mark nearby Estonia's independence day, the daily Respublika said. The paper said Paksas faced a fine of up to $50. His office declined to comment. Homeowners in all three Baltic states are obliged to fly their national flags on the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian independence days.
Michael P. Smuda, 26 Febuary 2001
At St Michael the Archangel (built as an Orthodox church end
19C and eventually a Catholic one) in Kaunas, I saw:
Left of the altar (to the altar's own right): a Vatican bicolour, yellow above white i.e. horizontal stripes. Right of the altar (to the altar's own left): the national flag.
This was the only church were I saw this kind of arrangement, at least of the many a tourist is supposed to see. However, after restauration Vilnius cathedral may well (re?)introduce something similar.
Jan Mertens, 15 August 2003
A while back, I noticed a picture of a group of Lithuanian
people gathering for what, I don't remember. What I do remember
is the flag that was present. It was the Lithuanian tri- color,
but, in the upper left corner there was a black double cross. Do
you know of this flag and its meaning?
Tim Plonis, 1 September 1999