Celebrations in Lithuania


On the 15th of July, 2010, we will celebrate the anniversary of one of the most famous battles of medieval Europe, being at the same time one of the most important events in the history of Lithuania – the battle of Grunwald. On July 15, 1410, the united army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland defeated the Teutonic Order, stopping the Teutonic expansion to the eastern coastal lands of the Baltic Sea. The battle (called in Lithuanian the battle of Žalgiris, and in German – the battle of Tannenberg) left a lasting mark in the historical memories of many nations. The memory of Grunwald and of the Grand Duke Witold who played an important role in the victory influenced the historical awareness of the Lithuanian nation, becoming a permanent symbol of national identity. The memory of the battle enhanced the political awareness of the magnates of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between the 15th and the 18th centuries, as well as of the national revival activists in the 19th and 20th centuries.

For the 600th anniversary of the battle, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania announced a jubliee programme with the intention to protect the memory of the battle of Grunwald, search for new ways to underline the meaning and importance of the historical event in Lithuanian society and consider the common future with other countries of the region.

The programme of the celebrations will include events that will present to the Lithuanian people and to the international community the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the war heritage, diplomatic traditions, the commemorations of the battle of Grunwald and its importance for the development of the Lithuanian state identity.

The celebrations will be coordinated by the Ministry of Domestic Defense, with participation of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, the Bank of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Postal Service, the Lithuanian Museum of Art, the National Radio and Television, Vilnius University, University of Witold the Great in Kaunas, the Institute of the History of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Sports Association „Žalgiris“, the State Department of Tourism, municipal governments, social organisations and others.

The anniversary is an occasion to emphasise cooperation between Poland and Lithuania. The victory of the Gand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland, the common fight for shared values and for freedom from 600 years ago ramain an important historical event that, to this day, has its bearing for Europe and the world. The celebration programmes in Lithuania and Poland are mutually consulted and both sides coordinate participation in common events, state ceremonies, historical performance at the place of the battle; joint academic conferences and exhibitions are also organised.


Historical performance

Between the 14th and 18th of July the main event of the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald – the historical performance of the battle – will take place at the place of the fight close to Olsztyn in Poland.

The theatrical performances of the battle of Grunwald began in Poland in 1998. Every year almost a hundred thousand spectators has watched the show that gathers knights from all over Europe. Beginning from 2004, a group of knights from Lithuania, and from 2008 the soldiers of the Lithuanian Company of the Honorary Guard, wearing 14th-century armours of the knights from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, have taken part in the event. Also the knights from the organisation „Heralds of the Middle Ages” („Viduramžių pasiuntiniai“), gathering the fans of the medieval history and knight fights, take part in the performance. So far, it has been assumed that the armies that clashed at Grunwald were led by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and the King of Poland, Jagiełło, while the role of Witold the Great has not been duly appreciated.

In the jubilee year, the representatives of Lithuania were invited to take part in the preparation of the scenario of the historical performance of the battle. The role of Witold the Great and of the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the historical victory over the Teutonic Order is crucial for us. We will participate in the performance of the battle under the leadership of Witold the Great, and it is planned that two knight detachments (each of 35 knights) under the banners of Gedymin Pillars and Pogoń will take part in the fight.

Witold the Great


During the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald, for the first time the role of Witold the Great will be played by a Lithuanian representative.

It will be performed by Donatas Mazurkevičius, a 39-year old Captain of the Lituanian Army. He was chosen from a group of a dozen candidates from the army and the police. The selection was made on February 19 in the riding school of the Horse Company of the Patrolling Brigade of the Police Station of Vilnius District. During the competition candidates were asked questions about the person of Witold the Great, their motivation, knowledge of foreign languages, mastery of word and ability to lead groups of people, and then, they demonstrated their skill in horse riding. The performer of the role of Witold the Great was chosen by a committee including the representatives of the Ministry of Domestic Defense, police and independent authorities, chaired by dr. Aleksiejus Luchtanas, a teacher at the Archeological Faculty at the Historical Department of the Vilnius University.

Members of the jury declared that physical appearance had no bearing on the choice of the actor playing the role of Witold the Great. According to dr. A. Luchtanas, at the time of the battle of Grunwald, Witold was about 60-years old, was quite a short man and had half-long hair, but no beard. So the chosen performer will probably have to grow longer hair.

The performer of the role of Witold will be in the spotlight during the event, so his soldier’s look is important, he should know how to give orders and should not be afraid of the crowd and the interest from spectators”, explained the director, Mindaugas Urbonavičius, when describing how Witold the Great should behave during the historical performance of the battle of Grunwald.

Captain D. Mazurkevičius said that the fact that he was chosen as the performer of the role of one of the greatest heroes in the history of Lithuania is a great honour to him. D. Mazurkevičius has served in the army for almost 20 years, since the end of 1991 when as a volunteer he joined the brigade of the Voluntary Domestic Defense Service. Today, he serves in the Engineering Batallion in Kaunas of the name of Juozas Vitkus where he is a head of Public Relations department.

All his life D. Mazurkevičius has been interested in history, he graduated in history at the University of Witold the Great in Kaunas. He also studied at the Lithuanian Military Academy of the name of General Jonas Žemaitis, and now continues his master’s course at the Academy. In the village where he comes from, Kybartai, he organised a historical museum of the southern Lithuania named the “Backyard of Jaćwings”.

During the performance, Witold’s closest collaborator, and his double – if the first one is indisposed – will be Algis Norvaišas, 41-year old lieutnant from the Horse Company of the Patrolling Battlion of the Police Station of the Vilnius District.

Witold the Great, together with his suite on horses, will lead about 50 knights to the place of the battle, a detachment including members and friends of the brotherhood of the Troki Castle “Heralds of the Middle Ages “.

The main banner of the Lithuanian regiments, the medieval Pogoń, will be guarded by soldiers from the Company of the Honorary Guard of the Lithuanian Army, dressed in 14th-century uniforms of soldiers from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The armour for Witold the Great will be crafted by armourers from the brotherhood “Heralds of the Middle Ages”. According to the head of the brotherhood, the weight of the armour may reach even 30 kilograms. The saddle for the Witold’s horse will be made according to medieval methods, and ornamented with wrought brass elements. Witold the Great, as he will look during the historical performance of the battle of Grunwald, will present himself for the first time during the holiday of the Army and the Society on May 15 in Zakręt Park in Vilnius.


Officer of Lithuanian Army, Captain Donatas Mazurkevičius. Photo by G. Maksimovicz

The Holiday of the Army and the Society



On May 5, in Vilnius Zakręt Park (in Lithuanian: Vingio parkas), the holiday of the army and the society will be celebrated, on the occasion of the jubilee of the battle of Grunwald.

During the festival the participants will have the opportunity to watch the modern Lithuanian army troops, soldiers, weapons and military technology, take part in military operations, as well as go back to the historical past.

During the 2010 edition of the holiday, the travel in history will take the participants into the times of the battle of Grunwald – a detachment of Lithuanian soldiers on horses preparing to the battle, and fight shows, as well as other performances related to the battle of Grunwald will be presented.

The tradition of the holiday of the army and the society dates from the period between the world wars. Today, the holiday is celebrated every year in the third weekend of May. The official name of the holiday is „Day of Honour to Guerillas, the Unity of the Army and the Society”.

Collectible (occasional) coins issued for the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald






In the second quarter of 2010, the Bank of Lithuania plans to issue three collectible (occasional) coins to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald:

  • Silver collectible (occasional) coin of the nominal 50 Lt (diameter - 38,61 mm; weight - 28,28 g; the face of the coin – lustrous, mat relief (proof); circulation - 10 000 coins);
    monetos grafinis projektas
     

  • Golden collectible (occasional) coin of the nominal 500 Lt (diameter - 33,00 mm; weight - 31,10 g; the face of the coin – lustrous, mat relief (proof); circulation - 5 000 coins);
    monetos grafinis projektas

  • Current (occasional) collectible coin (metal – copper and nickel alloy (Cu/Ni); diameter - 22,30 mm, weight - 6,25 g; circulation – one milion coins).
    monetos grafinis projektas

 

The graphics of the coins was designed by Rytas Jonas Belevičius. To find more information on the coins (standards, dates of issue etc.), see the web page of the Bank of Lithuania at www.lb.lt.

The plans of other emissions of collectible (occasional) coins by the Bank of Lithuania are presented at the web page of the Bank of Lithuania at http://www.lb.lt/lt/banknotai/proginiai.html.

Occasional stamp

On July 3, the company „Lietuvos paštas” (Lithuanian Postal Service) will issue a stamp „600 years from the battle of Grunwald”, together with an envelope of the first day of circulation and occasional paperwork. For more information on the stamp, see the web page of the Lithuanian Postal Service at www.post.lt , “New emissions of stamps” at the end of June.

International academic conference

„Žalgiris-Grunwald-Tannenberg 1410: war and peace in the late Middle Ages “

For the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald, an international conference on the battle and its historical context will be organised by the Vilnius University and the Lithuanian Historical Institute. Starting from the Grunwald themes, the participants will then present a broader picture of politics of war and peace in the Middle Ages. The conference will be focused mainly on the Central and East European region at the break of the 14th and 15th centuries, the international politics of that time, military developments in the late Middle Ages, the methods of initiating and maintaining peaceful relations, as well as the battle of Grunwald and its memory.

Grunwald, already by the contemporary people called the „great battle”, became an important part of historical memory of several nations, in particular those of Central and Eastearn Europe, where the battle still attracts interest of many people, not only professionals. For a long time, the picture of the battle was influenced by ideological assumptions – the war between the Teutonic Order and Poland and Lithuania was presented as an inevitable clash between the “ancient enemies” – while nobody attempted to explain the complexity of the political situation, diplomacy and international relations of the time. A new perspective on Grunwald and related events would not only let to see the battle and its consequences in more multidimensional way, but also help to give a new meaning to this event in the collective memory. The connection with the present times remains essential, for in the context of the battle of Grunwald many notions were developed that are useful to this day, such as the idea of a just war, international mediation process, peaceful communication during a war.

International exhibition in Vilnius

On November 3, 2010, an international exhibition on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald will be opened in Vilnius. The exhibition is intended not only to present the important event in the historical development of Europe and propose a new perspective on the past history of Lithuania, but also to shape the historical memory of the society, teach and model the youth, support patriotism and civic behaviours.

One of the main tasks of the exhibition is to show the tradition of commemoration of the battle of Grunwald in Lithuania, in Poland, and in the Commonwealth of the Two Nations, both in the time of foreign dependence and after reconstruction of sovereign national states, i.e. since the 15th century till the end of the 20th century.

The main focal point of the exhibition is the monumental panorama painting „The Battle of Grunwald” by Polish artists Zygmunt Rozwadowski and Tadeusz Popiel, created in 1910 for the 500th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald. Originally the painting was to be exhibited in Cracow, but today it belongs to a museum in Lvov.

During the exhibition also copies of banners won during the battle of Grunwald will be presented, as well as other war remnants, objects from the period between the 15th and the 20th centuries (monuments and models, printings, weapons, armours, iconographic materials etc.) showing how vivid the memory of the battle of Grunwald has remained in the awareness and art of several nations. In Lithuania the memory was most preserved in the circles of the Vilnius Cathedral where the seized Teutonic banners had been kept till the beginning of the 16th century when they burnt in a fire, and was focused on the figure of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Witold, whose memorial stood in the cathedral, and was reconstructed in the mid-19th century.

One of the most interesting objects presented at the exhibition will be a letter of an unknown military commander of the Teutonic Order addressed to the Grand Master of the Order, dating from the years 1411-1413, found by professor Sven Ekdahl, where the author explained that Lithuanian soldiers had not retreated during the “great battle”, but only made a kind of clever manoueuvre that broke the Teutonic lines and decided the fate of the battle in favour of Lithuanian and Polish army, helping to defeat the regiments of the Teutonic Order.

The exhibition will be open for spectators till the end of March 2011.
Museum of War under the name of Witold the Great in Kaunas (K. Donelaičio Street 64).
 


Exhibition

On the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the most important battle in the history of Lithuania – the battle of Grunwald – the Museum of War of Witold the Great plans to organise a special exhibition. The exposition will include weapons from the 14th and the 15th centuries: swords, axes, spear barbs, arrowheads, stone bullets and first firearms in Europe – bombards and flaconnets. Almost all of the objects are original – they were found during archeological explorations. They show that Lithuanian weaponry of the time was similar to that used by their neighbours, thus denying the stereotypes that in the battle of Grunwald Lithuanians wore hides and used primitive arms such as wooden maces.

Beside the weapons, also all the sketches of the Grunwald panorama will be presented for the first time (six paintings, in all almost 10-meters long). They were painted in the beginning of the 20th century by father and son, Jan and Tadeusz Styka, and in 1940s found themselves in the Museum of War of Witold the Great.

The exhibition is planned for the beginning of April in the Museum of War of Witold the Great. In the beginning of June, the exhibition will be moved to the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, and on the day of the anniversary (July 15) will return to the museum. Finally, early in September, the exhibition will move to Troki where it will be shown at the Castle on the island.

Exposition of the Witold’s Chapel



On November 20, 2009, the restored exposition of the Chapel of Witold was opened in the Museum of War of Witold the Great. Organisers of the exhibition tried to recall the spirit of the 1940s. Most of the objects showed in the Witold’s Chapel come from the old exposition organised seventy years ago. The central place in the Chapel is reserved for a sculpture of Witold, commissioned to be made in 1943 by one of the most renowned Lithuanian sculptors, Vincas Grybas. The main room of the museum features portraits of Lithuanian rulers painted by well known Lithuanian artists of the period between the world wars (J. Mackewičius, P. Kalpokas, V. Didżiokas, J. Janulis, J. Wienożinskas and others). The gallery of monarchs, that consists of 30 portraits, starts with the painting of the King of Lithuania, Mendog, and ends with the last King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Stanisław August Poniatowski. Besides the portraits of rulers, the gallery presents paintings showing the most important battles that took place before and during the rule of Witold („The battle of Saule”, 1236, by A. Kruka, „The battle of Durbe Lake”, 1260, by I. Rudolfas (a copy of the painting by J. Matejko)). Also one of the most precious works of art from the collection of the Museum of War of Witold the Great – the painting “Witold’s Oath” by Jan Styka – is displayed there, as well as artistically mounted guns used by the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in late 16th and early 17th cenuries, and complete armours from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Educational lesson


Also an educational lesson „Feel the spirit of the battle of Grunwals” is organised by the Museum of War of Witold the Great. Turn the wheel of time backwards, and return to the famous era of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania! Try to fight in the real battle of Grunwald! You think that it’s impossible? Everything is possible – you only need to gather a big army and come to the Museum of War of Witold the Great. Be in a good mood, have great discipline and remember the most important facts related to the battle of Grunwald. We will dress you up, arm you, guide you and take you to the field of the battle.
The program is directed to junior high schoolchildren.

 

International competition of sports clubs in Szawle

For several decades, sports association „Žalgiris“ (Grunwald in Lithuanian) has popularised the name of Grunwald that is so dear to Lithuanians. In the Soviet times, during various sports events within and outside of the Soviet Union, the sports clubs „Žalgiris“ praised the name to the world.
In 1990, the year of the 580th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald, Lithuanian sports games „Žalgiris“ were initiated, and eversince they have become popular and been organised every year – starting from competition within sports clubs, through games in districts and cities to the finals that take place on the 15
th of July, the day of the battle of Grunwald.
The events organised in 2010 by the Lithuanian sports association will commemorate the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald. In January, sports games in winter fishing, checkers, and skiing were organised, and on February 6 and 7 sports competition in mountain skiing in Ignalino.

The international sports games organised by the association consist of the following phases:
Phase I – competition within sports clubs (January-February);
Phase II – games in cities and districts (February- March);
Phase III – games in zones (April-May);
Phase IV – the finals:
in 2010 the final games will take place in Szawle on July 13-19.

The games include the following sports disciplines:
Basketball, volleyball, football, handball, beach volleyball, chess, table tennis, tennis. For more information, see the website of the association - 
http://www.lsdzalgiris.lt/.

For updated information on the program of the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, see http://www.kam.lt/lt/zalgirio_musiui_600.html  

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