A Herald of Lithuanian Resistance

On 19 February 2023, Lithuania bid a last farewell to Antanas Terleckas, a hero and one the founding fathers of Lithuanian independence.

During the years of deep Soviet tyranny he was tirelessly bearing a torch of freedom. To bear it in 1970’s, one had to have a spirit of fearless rebel. As a result, the Lithuanian from behind the Iron Curtain managed to convey a message to the West about the Baltic resistance.

In 1976 – 1977, Antanas Terleckas together with Kestutis Jokubynas, Julius Sasnauskas, Angele Ragaisis, Birute Barauskaite and others were printing the underground paper ‘the Herald of Liberty’. This paper was a prelude to the League of Lithuanian Liberty, which later made a heavy influence on Lithuanian resistance movement ‘Sajudis’ led by Vytautas Landsbergis.

In August 1979, Antanas Terleckas together with his Lithuanian and Estonian friends, Julius Sasnauskas, Enn Tarto and Mart Niklus, at the latter’s home (25 Vikerkaare street in Tartu) prepared the Baltic appeal to condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and to call for the recognition of right to liberty and independence of the occupied Baltic States.

This was a good company of fellows. Mart-Olav Niklus, an Estonian dissident and politician, was imprisoned and deported. Enn Tarto, a politician and dissident in Estonia, imprisoned many times for anti-Soviet activity. Julius Sasnauskas, Lithuanian publicist and Franciscan priest, a member of Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance, imprisoned and later deported.

This appeal was a first joint statement, which broke out to the West directly from the occupied Baltic countries. It was signed by 36 Lithuanian, 5 Latvian and 4 Estonian dissidents and was called a memorandum of 45 Baltic nationals.

The Baltic Appeal, 1979

The European Parliament responded on 13 January 1983, by adopting a resolution on ‘the situation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’, which was initiated by Otto von Habsburg.

The European Parliament Resolution, 1983

The resolution called on the European Foreign Ministers to form a common favourable approach at the UN and submit the issue of the Baltic States to the Decolonisation Subcommittee.

It also called this issue to be reviewed during the conferences of the Helsinki Final Act and invited the Foreign Ministers to use their best to see that the aspirations of the peoples of Baltic States as to their form of government are realised.

Antanas Terleckas was not immediately aware of this, as he was arrested after the appeal on 30 October 1979. He was sentenced, for the third time, to three years in the labour camp in Perm and to five years’ exile in Magadansk Region.

He returned to Lithuania in January 1987 and immediately engaged in the fight for Lithuanian independence that was declared on 11 March 1990.

A Lithuanian from behind the Iron Curtain has accomplished with honours his mission of standing for freedom, yours and ours.

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