Where is Lithuania near?

I googled ‘Where is Lithuania?’, as I couldn’t remember if it was ‘North enough’ to qualify for my next story and memory of a country in Europe (after Scandinavia and Norway, we’re still in the North, and I don’t have a story about Denmark other than visiting Freetown Christiania and buying drugs there on Pusher Street in 1993. Christiania seems to since have turned into a tourist destination – Capitalism Eats Everything).

christiania denmark
Christiania in Denmark. CC image courtesy of franganillo on Flickr

But I digress. This is about Lithuania – the next stop on our journey.

Where is Lithuania?

Lithuania is North of Poland, to the right. Roughly on the same latitude as Denmark. I know a couple of Lithuanians but (shame on me) didn’t really know much about it, other than it used to be part of the then USSR (and gained its freedom from the Soviet Union when that went down in 1989/90. A lot of shit went down in the late 80s, early 90s come to think of it: the break-up of the USSR, the fall of Yugoslavia!)

Where is Yugoslavia located?

Yugoslavia was located in Southern Europe.

This is what Yugoslavia used to look like. The country ceased to exist in 1991/1992.

Yugoslavia map year 1981
A map of Yugoslavia (1981)

I remember the horrible Balkans war which I studied ‘as-it-happened’ live during my Politics lessons in High School in the early 90s, and later (2000/01)  the humanitarian crisis and people fleeing from war, being covered on TV news.

A map of Lithuania

Lithuania map

Lithuania (in the North of Europe) is one of the countries whose people should seek friendships with Germans (and vice versa). They share a common, dark past – Lithuania was one of the few countries where mass extermination of Jews started as soon as the Nazis (Wehrmacht) invaded the country.

The killings were carried out both by Germans and Lithuanian partisans (in the first two days, 1,500 Jews were murdered by the latter). In total, the genocide rate of Jews in Lithuania – around 95% of 250,000 were murdered – was one of the highest in Europe, thanks to cooperation of Lithuanians with the Nazis (who were very good indeed at propaganda and whose campaigns built on existing anti-Semitist sentiment).

The Lithuanians I know today are friendly and hard-working, mindful of their past and positive about their future. They no longer live in their home country and have little care for what happened over two generations ago. They’ve become, like many of us traveling Europeans, anchor-less, with an identity rooted in neither country nor nation.

Trakai island castle lithuania
Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania