Lietuvos Zemelapis - 1939
Map of Lithuania -1939

Compiled by: Richard Gostautas
Website/Database design by: Richard Gostautas

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The information in this database was compiled from the "Gazetteer to the Map of Lithuania" produced by Professor Antanas Salys, Ph. D. of the University of Philadelphia. The information from this gazetteer was based on the independent Republic of Lithuania as of 1939, before the annexation of Klaipėda territory by Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II and the Soviet invasion of June 1940. The information in this database also includes the Polish occupied Vilnius region (1920-1939).

The original map, which unfortunately was not present at the time of the acquisition of this gazetteer, was prepared with acknowledgements for assistance from Profs. A. Salys (verification of all names) and Prof. Stp. Kolupaila (hydrographic data), further to Prof. K. Pakštas (advice on boundaries), Dr. M. Brakas (Soviet adjustments of the Potsdam line) and Drs. M. Gimbutas and A. Šapoka for the two inset maps (both missing from the rest of the gazetteer).

Introductory Notes (directly from the gazetteer at time of publishing)
Previous to WWI geographic names of Lithuania appeared on the maps and in scholarly works almost without exception in Slavic form, either in Polish or its Russian adaptations. With the re-establishment of an independent state, the genuine Lithuanian names gradually made their way also into foreign maps, atlases and other publications. At present, there is still a great deal of confusion in this respect. The more familiar place names are frequently quoted in Lithuanian form, but the minor ones usually, as before, in Slavic versions. On the other hand, some of Lithuania's neighbors, especially the Poles, have been displaying a deliberate preference for the traditional Polonized name forms.

After the occupation of Lithuania the Soviet Cartographic Board (GUGK) cautiously proposed the adoption of former Russian name forms for the maps, on the grounds that "Lithuania was no more a foreign country". The matter, however, was dropped because of strong objections on the part of competent Lithuanian institutions. Consequently, Russian maps and the Press have been using merely Cyrillic transliterations of the genuine Lithuanian name forms.

In this connection, attention is called to a somewhat strange recommendation of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names of those Russian transliterations for the official use, e.g. Vilnyus for Lith. Vilnius. Such a practice would be the same as writing trough Russian medium, Filadelfiya instead of Philadelphia. The authorities passing the decision in question apparently did not realize that Lithuanian like English use the Latin alphabet and therefore no special transliteration is required as Russian does with its Cyrillic alphabet.

Usually confusion regarding geographic names of Lithuania in foreign maps results solely from the lack of adequate information or difficulties confronting the cartographers in the identification of genuine Lithuanian name forms with those used formerly in the maps. By accompanying this map with a multilingual Gazetteer instead of the usual Index, we hope to remedy this situation.

Within the official borders of Lithuania all the names appear on the map exclusively in Lithuanian form. For the bordering areas the same practice was followed where current Lithuanian name forms were available from various published name sources and his author's own investigation. The adjacent part of former East Prussia presented here a special problem. The Soviets Russanized in a sweeping way (1946) all the place and even water names in the so-called Kaliningrad oblast. The Poles also renamed some names but otherwise introduced the forms current in Polish use since former times. Previous to is the Nazis had also renamed (1938) all the names of Lithuanian and Polish origin.

In this case, because the map is destined primarily for Lithuanians, we used basically the centuries old Lithuanian name forms as they were in use among the Lithuanian population of Lithuanian Minor. The names of Old Prussian origin are also given in corresponding Lithuanian forms because of their close linguistic relationship. However, where no Lithuanian forms were available we used the German name forms. On the other hand, we listed by cross references all name changes in the Gazetteer as far as it could be ascertained from the available sources.

In Latvian territory the names are given in Latvian except for a few major cities where the current Lithuanian variants have been used. Polish name forms were applied in the territory west from the Polish-Soviet border of 1939. The White Russia forms, so far as available from the sources at hand, were, also included in the Gazetteer. The names within the Soviet territory of 1939 are given in the popular Lithuanian transliteration.

In some cases there exist parallel name forms in popular Lithuanian use. The priority has been given to those of Standard Lithuanian. Few names of lakes, marshes and mountains are used in genitive case form only. They are usually derived from a place name quoted in parenthesis. Non-Lithuanian publications should use those names in nominative form, e.g. Lake Plateliai, not Platelių.

The Lithuanian languages possesses free and mobile stress as well as three musical tones marked by grave, acute and circumflect accents, the latter being used in dictionaries but omitted in everyday use. Because even Lithuanian speakers are not always sure of correct accentuation of the less known geographical names, these have been accented throughout and the stress patterns indicated by numbers 1, 2, 3, 3a, 3b, 34a, 34b following immediately each name form. All this was done with the idea of supplying scholars working in Baltic philology with an authoritative and most complete source on Lithuanian geographic names. The extensive use of multilingual cross references will make the identification of the various name forms and their changes practically foolproof.

While preparing this Gazetteer I was helped with information from many Lithuanian compatriots, the acknowledgment to whom is given in the Lithuanian preface. I wish to express also my thanks to Prof. A. Senn for his advice and encouragement and to Mrs. M. Chamberlin, the Secretary of the Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, who showed great patience in typing the very difficult text for the press.
- A. Salys

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