Lithuania in the News
1st August 2010
Focus on Epic Victories on Lithuania’s National Day
Lithuanian troops marching off from the Cathedral Square in
Vilnius for the battle re-enactment. Photo courtesy
Lithuania’s National Day on July 6 commemorates the crowning of Lithuania’s first King Mindaugas in 1253. This year the focus of the National Day celebrations was on two decisive battles 600 and 750 years ago in which Lithuania was victorious and which were crucial for Lithuania’s survival as a nation.
On July 15 in 1410 Lithuania and Poland crushingly defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grünwald (Žalgiris in Lithuanian) in East Prussia, now part of Poland, near the villages of Grünwald, Tannenberg and Ludwigsdorf. In English histories the battle is more often called the Battle of Tannenberg. It was a decisive and historically important battle, one of largest in all of medieval Europe, which stopped the German “Drang nach Osten” (“Thrust towards the East”) for 500 years (On this website please see Lithuania/ History/ Battle of Žalgiris). The other battle also commemorated was the Battle of Durbė on July 13 1260 at Durbė in present day Latvia, which was just as important for Lithuania as the later Battle of Tannenberg was. At Durbė Lithuanian forces decisively defeated the forces of the Livonian Order, which at that time ruled most of present Latvia and Estonia and later became part of the Teutonic Order.
Vytautas with his troops marching out of Vilnius. Photo courtesy
The Battle of Žalgiris commemorations kicked off in Kaunas on June 5 with an impressive song and dance festival in Kaunas’ Dainų Slėnis (Song Valley) with a focus on the 600 year old battle. On the National Day itself on July 6, Vilnius farewelled a contingent of troops to the re-enactment of the battle on the ancient battlefield in present day Poland. The troops decked out in Lithuanian armour and uniforms of the 14th century made an impressive sight. The role of Vytautas the Great was taken up by Lithuanian army officer Major Donatas Mazurkevičius. The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, and many Lithuanians attended the re-enactment and other ceremonies in Poland. The re-enactment itself was held on Saturday July 17.
The Battle of Durbė was commemorated by Lithuanians and Latvians at Durbė in Latvia on July 12. Lithuania was represented by the Speaker of Lithuanian Parliament, Irena Degutienė.

Further information: 14/07/10 07/06/10 06/07/10 19/07/10