The 20th Century

1914-1918 Events leading to World War I began on 28 June 1914 with the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria and ended with Germany signing an Armistice on 11 November 1918.

In the United States banning the teaching of German in schools, governmental persecution, and social discrimination occurred in many places. These banns usually lasted for some years after the war.

1917 The Gregorian calendar was adopted by Russia.

Severe discrimination against German-Americans continued with American entry into World War I on April 6.

1918 On February 16 Lithuania proclaimed its independence.

Note: For a map of East Central Europe 1918 to 1923 see Margosi, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, 126. The map shows that the former Suwalki Province became part of south western Lithuania, identifiable on the north and east by the Neman River. The loss of German territories in the east led to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 in an effort to regain this territory which had been settled by Germans for centuries.

1919 The Treaty of Versailles was signed June 8.

1920 In independent Lithuania, there were 20 districts or counties: Alytus, Birzai, Kaunas, Kedainiai, Kretinga, Marijampole, Mazeikiai, Panevezys, Raseiniai, Rokiskis, Sakiai, Seinai, Siauliai, Taurage, Teisiai, Trakai, Ukmerge, Utena, Vilkaviskis, and Zarasai. This list includes counties outside of the borders of the former Suwalki Province..

1923 An Administrative Line was set to limit the Lithuanian-Polish boundary with the Polish still in control of Vilnius.

1933-1945 Adolph Hitler was the Fuhrer (leader) of the Third Reich in Germany.

1939-1945 World War II: The Third Reich gained all land lost in 1918 but was eventually defeated by Allied troops. Many German records were destroyed in the war.

1940-1941 Soviet Russia occupied Lithuania on 15 June 1940 and remained for about one year.

January 1941 According to a German-Russian contract from 10 January 1941, the Hitler regime intended to evacuate Lithuanian-Germans.

Every day the number of persons who were willing to resettle to Germany grew. The German side persisted on the fact that all Protestants became approved as Germans. Under this cloak a lot of members of the Reformed Church traveled besides Lithuanian Lutherans, although none of them were really German. In the lists Swiss were also taken up.

It was the decision of the German authorities, whom they recognized as a resettler or not. In this manner their number increased to 50,142. As already [stated] before, more than 2,000 Germans from the Wilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania), area had already left Lithuania, [now] the total number of resettlers increased to more than 52,000.


The Lithuania-Germans were resettled in January/February, 1941 – as a countermove to the forced migration by Lithuanians, Russians and Byelorussians from [the] Memel- and Suwalki areas. After the German occupation of Lithuania 20,000 Lithuanian-Germans were resettled from Germany to Lithuania as heralds of colonization.


22 June 1941 “It is an ironic parallel, that 129 years later (after Napoleon’s army passed by Wylkowiszki and Mariampol) on that same night of June 22, Adolf Hitler’s armies, traveling these same roads, attacked Russia and eventually met the same fate. In each case Lithuanians believed they would realize freedom and in each case they were cruelly disappointed. In each case an even more brutal embrace of the Russian Bear gripped the Lithuanian people.” Algis Ruksenas, “A Humble Lesson for an Emperor from a Lithuanian Hare,” Lithuanian Heritage, (September/October 2009), 13.

1941 On December 11 Hitler declared war on the United States.

1941-1945 One third of the 11 million soldiers in the United States Armed Forces in World War II were of German descent.

1944-1948 Germans fled en masse from Eastern Europe before the advancing Soviet armies. The expulsion of most of the German population from this area continued until 1948.

Note: The Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle, the author’s hometown newspaper, and no doubt thousands of newspapers across the country, recorded the retreat of the German army during the summer of 1944. The headlines, “Germans Burn East Prussian Towns in Path of Red Army,” recorded the details of the retreating Germans and the advancing Third White Russian Army through western Lithuania. The 19 August 1944 article reported that the Russian army had captured 30 settlements in the last 24 hours.

One sentence centers on the ancestral area of one –at family.

The Red Army push was believed concentrated north of Eydtkuhnen from bases at Vilkaviskis. [Note the Lithuanian spelling.]

No doubt the author’s father read this report on the front page unaware of the rampage right through his ancestral home. This location was never discussed in the author’s home during the war. (Muskegon Chronicle, 19 August 1944, page 1, column 1.)

1944-1990 In the fall of 1944 Soviet Russia again occupied Lithuania.

1970-1992 Agreements between West Germany, East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union resulted in the permanent loss of East and West Prussia as German territory.

1989-1990 Germany was reunified after almost 40 years. Democratic elections were held throughout East Central Europe.

1990 Lithuania re-established its independence.

1991-1992 The Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991 after a failed coup. All non-Russian republics declared their independence in the months before and after this collapse.

1991-1993 The Baltic countries did not join the Loose Commonwealth of Independent States. Plans to establish ethnic Germans in the Kaliningrad Oblast (formerly north East Prussia, the original home land of many German Lutherans in previous centuries) faltered due to resistance by the local inhabitants.

Notes: (1) For a map of East Central Europe 1992, see Margosi, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, 174. The map shows the border of modern Lithuania. The Neman River identifies the north and eastern border of the former Suwalki Province. (2) The same sources were used for the above information as well as the three previous posts, 100 to 1700, the 18th century, and the 19th century.

About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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