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The text from the „Acquaintance with Lithuania. Book of the Millennium. I“. Kaunas: “Krastotvarka”, 1999. C.68-74


Kazys GriniusKazys Grinius (December 17, 1866 in Selema - April 4, 1950 in Chicago). Supporter and ideologist of the creation of the democratic state system and civic society in Lithuania. One of the founders of the Lithuanian Democratic Party in 1902, he took part in drafting its program. Author of the 1906 Program of the Party. The third President of the Republic of Lithuania (June-December 1926). Ideologist of the liberal wing of the Lithuanian national movement, contributor to the Varpas newspaper, member of its editorial committee and one of the editors.


GRINIUS Kazys (1866-1950), third Presiden of the Republic of Lithuania, born in Salema, county of Marijampole, on Dec. 17, 1866. He was the son of Vincas and Ona (Vosyliute) Grinius, who owned a medium-sized farm of 18 ha and raised 9 children. After gradulating from high school in Marijampole, he studied medicine at the University of Moscow from 1887-1893. His first assignment as a practicing physician | was in a division of the Russian fleet located in the Caspian Sea. Upon returning to Lithuania in 1894, he undertook private practice in Suduva (southern Lithuania), mainly in the city of Marijampole, where he asserted himself not only as a popular physician, but also as a leader in the Lithuanian national movement.
Grinius joined the Lithuanian resistance against the Tsarist regime while still in high school. He belonged to a club of patriotic Lithuanian students, reading and propagating outlawed Lithuanian newspapers (see Press Ban). In Moscow he was a member of the secret Lithuanian Student Association, serving as its president from 1891-1892. Later, as a young practitioner of medicine, he threw himself info underground activities in southern Lithuania, and his offices (in Marijampole, Virbalis, Naumiestis, Pilviskiai) became stations for purveyors of the underground press and for fugitives from police persecution and prisons. Grinius profession provided good cover for these clandestine activities, as it made it difficult for Russian secret police to distinguish between bona fide patients and fighters of the resistance. Even so, Grinius did not escape arrest by the Tsarist administration in 1906, 1908, 1910 and 1911.
Grinius was an important member of a group of national liberals known as varpininkai, who consisted of contributors, editors, patrons and subscribers of the monthly Varpas (The Bell, 1889-1905). The founder and editor of the newspaper was Vincas Kudirka (q.v.), whose closest friend and collaborator was Grinius. The latter helped in raising funds for the newspaper, solicited subscriptions, wrote articles and took over the editorship after Kudirka's death in 1899. Some of the activists grouped around Varpas founded the Democratic Party of Lithuania in 1902, which later changed its name to the Peasant Populist Union. Grinius was one of its leaders, actively participating in the working out of its programs and for some time editing its organ, the daily Lietuvos zinios (News of Lithuania).
When the outcome of the 1905 revolt brought more cultural freedom to Lithuania, Grinius and his first wife Joana (Pavalkyte) helped establish a
Lithuanian theater, a chorus, and an elementary school in Marijampole and led the fight to legalize the cultural association Sviesa (The Light), which acquired 15 chapters and over 1,500 members. After the beginning of World War I Grinius and his family retreated to Russia, where his wife and daughter Graiina perished in the civil war. In 1919 he reached France via Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea, and served as chairman of the Lithuanian repatriation commission in Paris for half a year. About 1,000 Lithuanians were returned from Germany to their homeland, including prisoners of war and others arrested and drafted into concentration camps.
Having returned to Lithuania, Grinius was elected in 1920 to the Constituent Assembly and to the next three parliaments (1922-26). From June 19, 1920 to Feb. 1, 1922, he was prime minister. His administration concluded two significant international agreements. The first was a peace treaty between Lithuania and Soviet Russia, made in Moscow on June 12, 1920, whereby Soviet Russia recognized the sovereignty of the Lithuanian State and forever renounced all rights to Lithuanian territory as defined by that treaty. The second was an armistice convention with Poland signed at Suvalkai (Suwaiki) on Oct. 7, 1920. Two days later Poland violated this convention by occupying a large part of eastern Lithuania, including the capital city Vilnius (Q.v.). The boundary between Lithuania and Latvia was determined by arbitration in 1921.
In the parliamentary elections of 1926, the Peasant Populist Union won a plurality of seats (22 out of 85) and formed a coalition government with the Social Democrats and several national minority parties. On June 7, 1926 this left-of-center majority elected Grinius as President of the Republic, with Mykolas Slezevicius, another Peasant Populist Union leader, as prime minister. Their administration negotiated another important treaty with the Soviet Union, namely the non-aggression pact of Sept. 28, 1926. Although relatively successful in foreign policy, the Grinius-Slezevicius regime roused opposition on the home front by its liberal policy of allowing considerable latitude to the activities of extremist elements on the left. In consequence, a number of military officers, supported by some
of the parties which had lost in the 1926 elections, executed a bloodless coup d'etat on the night of Dec. 16-17, 1926. President Grinius was compelled to resign, and an era of authoritarian government was inaugurated in Lithuania.
Grinius returned to his old duties in the municipal administration of Kaunas, where he had worked from
1922-1926 as director of Health Services, a post in which he continued until 1935. An advocate of the principles of preventive medicine, he urged efforts on
a national scale to combat the causes of disease and to improve housing, working, and nutrition conditions. He devoted particular attention to tuberculosis and to the mortality of infants and mothers. For 20 years he served as chairman of the anti-tuberculosis society, which maintained several sanatoriums, dispensaries and cummer colonies. The tubercular sanatorium in Kaunas was named after him. From 1923-1939 he was chairman of an association called Pieno Lasas (Drop of Milk), which concerned itself with care for children and mothers. Grinius was a member and consultant of several other organizations devoted to social work and medical service. He wrote over 200 articles on topics of medicine and hygiene, besides editing several
periodicals in these fields.
In 1942, during the German occupation, Grinius and two other political leaders, Prof. J. Aleksa and Msgr. M. Krupavicius, presented the German authorities in Kaunas with a memorandum outlining German actions that were unacceptable to Lithuanians, including the killing of Jews and the expropriation of Lithuanian farms. The German authorities responded by deporting Grinius to a remote village under police supervision; his advanced age saved him from arrest, but the other two signatories were deported to Germany and likewise kept under police supervision. In the summer of 1944, when the Russian army drove out the Germans and reoccupied Lithuania in turn, Grinius withdrew to the West and found shelter at the Displaced Persons' camp at Hanau. In 1947 he emigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago, Illinois. For some time he represented his party in the International Peasant Union. He died in Chicago on June 4, 1950, and lies buried in the Lithuanian National Cemetery. Two volumes of his Memoirs were published, in Tubingen (1947) and in Chicago (1962).

Text from the ENCYCLOPEDIA LITUANICA I-VI.  Boston, 1970-1978