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ESPERANTO – LITHUANIA: Litovaj popolkantoj [Lithuanian Folk Songs].


A very rare book of Lithuanian folk songs, translated to Esperanto, was published in Kaunas on the eve of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, and in the last year of the Lithuanian Esperanto Association before WWII.

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A book includes 32 Lithuanian songs, translated to Esperanto, printed in dark green colour and accompanied with Lithuanian folk art vignettes in mature art deco style.

Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, was for a while a home of Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, and therefor one oft he first centers, where the language developed. The first Esperanto association in Lithuania was founded in Vilnius, already in 1892, and the first Esperanto magazine Litova Stelo (Lithuanian Star), was published in one issue in 1914. The association together with the magazine was revived after WWI and was active until WWII, when the language was forbidden by the Nazi Germany.

Petras Lapiené, the editor of our book, was the the last editor of the Esperanto magazine until 1940, a year when the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania. The following year Nazi Germany invaded Lithuania and Esperanto was forbidden.

These pre WWII Lithuanian Esperanto books are today quite rare. First they, like this work, tended to be issued in very small quantities. Second, most of these examples would have been destroyed during the war, as they were looked upon with disfavour by both the occupying Soviet and Nazi regimes. 

The book was printed in 1000 examples. Today we could only trace 2 examples in libraries worldwide (Austrian National Library and Bibliotheek UvA/HvA, Amsterdam).


References: Internacia Kongresa Universitato (José Antonio Vergara, Ed.), 2009, p. 102 (http://www.eventoj.hu/steb/miksitaj/iku2009.pdf). 

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