International treaties of interwar Lithuania (excerpts), 1924-1931

Convention concerning the Territory of Memel, 1924

Annex I


Article 27. The Lithuanian and the German languages shall be recognised on the same footing as official languages in the Memel Territory.

Inter-School Convention (with Latvia), 1931

Article 1

Latvia shall open and maintain primary schools or special classes for children of Lithuanian origin, irrespective of religion, and Lithuania shall maintain and open primary schools or special classes for children of Latvian origin, irrespective of religion, if the number of children from 7 to 14 years of age required to attend these schools is not less than 20 within the boundaries of a commune (urban or rural) and within an adjacent zone of not more than 3.5 kilometres beyond it.

Article 2

If the number of pupils in a school of not more than two divisions exceeds 40 and in a school of three or more division exceeds 35, two teachers shall be engaged for each of those schools.

Article 3

If the number of pupils of Lithuanian origin in a Latvian school, or the number of pupils of Latvian origin in a Lithuanian school is less than 20 but more than 9, the mother tongue of those pupils shall, on the express desire of their parents, be taught to them as a special subject.

Children whose parents are of different origin shall attend the school chosen by their parents.

Article 4

The schools mentioned in Article 1 shall be opened by the education authorities, at the request of persons or organisations concerned, in accordance with the present Convention. These schools shall be maintained and provided with all the necessary equipment by the respective communes or Ministries of Education, the teachers’ salaries being paid by the State.

Article 5

Teachers shall be appointed or dismissed in accordance with the laws in force in the respective States.

Persons who have acquired the right to teach in Latvia shall enjoy this right in Latvian schools or classes in Lithuania. Persons who have acquired the right to teach in Lithuania shall enjoy this right in Lithuanian schools or classes in Latvia.

The heads of the primary and secondary schools in question must have a knowledge of the Latvian and Lithuanian languages.

Teachers who are nationals of the other Contracting Party shall be allowed to teach, subject to the consent of the Minister of Education.

Article 6

Lessons in the schools mentioned in Articles 1 and 7 of this Convention shall be given in the mother tongue of the pupils. The language of the State shall be taught to the pupils of primary schools as a compulsory subject, beginning with the second year, and in other schools to pupils of all the classes. The curricula shall be drawn up in accordance with the regulations in force in the respective States. These curricula shall also include the history and geography of the other contracting country.

Article 7

A percentage of all expenses falling to the charge of the State in respect of the upkeep of High schools and secondary schools, calculated according to the number of inhabitants of Lithuanian origin in Latvia and of Latvian origin in Lithuania, shall be borne by the State concerned, in respect of the upkeep of Lithuanian high schools and secondary schools in Latvia and of Latvian high schools and secondary schools in Lithuania.

Article 8

Should parents domiciled within the boundaries of either Contracting State wish to send their children to schools of their nationality situated within the boundaries of the other State (for instance, in the case of Lithuanians in Latvia, to schools in Lithuania and vice versa) no obstacle shall be placed in their way by either Party.

The regulations concerning a knowledge of the language, history and geography of the State of which the pupils are nationals shall be drawn up by the Ministries of Education of the two Contracting Parties.


Document data for the Memel Convention: 08.05.1924. Link: A couple of links to photos illustrating the practice of bilingual signage in the area during the interwar period: & A couple of links to bilingual documents from the area at the time: & A photo depicting the refusal from the practice by Nazis – (also can be found at )

Some other photos documenting multilingualism in now-Lithuanian territory: (Wilno/Vilnius, 1912)

Document data for the Inter-School Convention: 25.01.1931 Link:

Declaration concerning the protection of minorities in Lithuania, 1922

Article 1

The stipulations of this Declaration are recognised as fundamental laws of Lithuania and no law, regulation or official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation or official action now or in the future prevail over them.

Article 2

Full and complete protection of life and liberty will be assured to all inhabitants of Lithuania, without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion.

All inhabitants of Lithuania will be entitled to the free exercise, whether public or private, of any creed, religion or belief whose practices are not inconsistent with public order or public morals.

Article 3

The Lithuanian Government shall advise the Council of the League of Nations of all constitutional or legislative stipulations regarding the conditions necessary to the acquisition of the status of Lithuanian nationals.

All persons born within the territory of the Lithuanian State, subsequent to the date of the present Declaration, who cannot claim another nationality by birth, shall be recognised as Lithuanian nationals.

Article 4

All Lithuanian nationals shall be equal before the law, and shall enjoy the same civil and political rights without distinction as to race, language or religion.

Differences of religion, creed or confession will not prejudice any Lithuanian national in matters relating to the enjoyment of civil and political rights, as, for instance, admission to public employment, functions and honours, or the exercise of professions and industries.

No restriction will be imposed on the free use by any Lithuanian national of any language in private intercourse, in commerce, in religion, in the press or in publications of any kind, or at public meetings.

Notwithstanding any establishing of an official language, adequate facilities will be given to Lithuanian citizens of non-Lithuanian speech for the use of their language, either orally or in writing before the Courts.

Article 5

Lithuanian nationals who belong to racial, religious or linguistic minorities will enjoy the same treatment and security in law and in fact as other Lithuanian nationals. in particular, they shall have an equal right to maintain, manage and control at their own expense, or to establish in the future, charitable, religious and social institutions, schools and other educational establishments, with the right touse their own language and to exercise their religion freely therein.

Article 6

Provision will be made in the public educational system in towns and districts in which are resident a considerable proportion of Lithuanian nationals whose mother-tongue is not the Lithuanian language for adequate facilities for ensuring that in the primary schools instruction shall be given to the children of such nationals through the medium of their own language; it being understood that this provision does not prevent the teaching of the Lithuanian language being made obligatory in the said schools.

In towns and districts where there is a considerable proportion of Lithuanian nationals belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities, these minorities will be assured an equitable share in the enjoyment and application of sums which may be provided out of public funds under the State, municipal or other budgets for educational, religious or charitable purposes.

Article 7

Educational committees appointed locally by the Jewish communities of Lithuania will, subject to the general control of the State, provide for the distribution of the proportional share of public funds allocated to Jewish schools in accordance with Article 6, and for the organisation and management of these schools.

The provisions of Article 6 concerning the use of languages in schools shall apply to these schools.

Article 8

Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their Sabbath, nor shall they be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend courts of law or to perform any legal business on their Sabbath. This provision, however, shall not exempt Jews from such obligations as shall be imposed upon all other Lithuanian citizens for the necessary purposes of military service, national defence or the preservation of public order.

Lithuania declares her intention to refrain from ordering or permitting elections, whether general or local, to be held on a Saturday, nor will registration for electoral or other purposes be compelled to beperformed on a Saturday.

Article 9

The stipulations in the foregoing articles of this Declaration, so far as they affect the persons belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities, are declared to constitute obligations of international concern, and will be placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations. No modification will be made in them without the assent of a majority of the Council of the League of Nations.

Any Member of the Council of the League of Nations shall have the right to bring to the attention of the Council any infraction or danger of infraction of any of these stipulations, and the Council may thereupon take such action and give such direction as it may deem proper and effective in the circumstances.

Any difference of opinion as to questions of law or fact arising out of these articles between the Lithuanian Government and any Power a Member of the Council of the League of Nations, shall be held to be a dispute of an international character under Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Any such dispute shall, if the other party thereto demands, be referred to the Permanent Court of International Justice. The decision of the Permanent Court shall be final and shall have the same force and effect as an award under Article 13 of the Covenant.

Document data: Geneva, 12.05.1922. Source: League of Nation Treaty Series, vol. 22, 1924, pages 395-399. Link: