The map above shows Lithuania with its pre-WW1 borders. The country was at that time part of the greater Russian Empire (along with Poland and Latvia), and  divided into three Governorate regions: Kovno, Vilna and Suvalki. Our family lived in the northwest of the old Suvalki Governorate, but the lower third of that province is now part of modern Poland (see map below). East Prussia (including Lithuania Minor) had its capital at Königsberg, and lay immediately to the west of Suvalki. This German province was annexed and divided between the Soviet Union and Poland following WW2, and Lithuania was a Soviet Socialist Republic from 1940 until its independence in 1990.


 

This second map of Lithuania shows the post-1990 borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A large swathe of the eastern part of the country is now part of Belarus, while the southern part of the old Suvalki Province is part of modern-day Poland. The old East Prussia entirely disappeared after 1945, with its southern part subsumed into Poland, while the northern tip (mostly Lithuania Minor) was annexed by the Soviet Union, although Lithuania gained a small strip of the border region to give it access to the Curonian Lagoon. This now Russian exclave is called Kaliningrad, and its previous German/Lithuanian population either fled, or were forcibly deported … or murdered. Kaliningrad today is the home of the Russian Baltic Fleet, and is known to be the most militarised zone in the world. Lithuania, Latvia and Poland are all currently members of the European Union.


Comments

Lithuania 1900–1990 Maps — 11 Comments

    • Hello Vic,
      Sorry for the late reply, but I’ve been overseas for a month, and in areas with no Internet.

      “Wilkonier” isn’t on any map I have, but I guess it’s an Anglicised spelling as there is no “W” in the Lithuanian alphabet – so possibly something like “Vilkonier”. My family came from a district called “Vilkaviškis”, which is to the southwest of Kaunas on the border with Kaliningrad (now a hot-spot because of the Russian/Ukrainian war).
      However, I will have a good look at some old maps to see if I can see something closer to your spelling.

      Cheers,
      Alan

  1. Can you show me or tell me where Widgiren, Lithuania is located? It is a small farming community. I am looking for family history for a married couple Julius Wagramowicz and Karolina Berkobein ( born in the 1800’s).

    • Hello Helen,

      That’s a tough one! Sadly, Lithuanian place names are often terribly mangled when English-speaking registrars write them down on documents. Lithuanian is like no other language, and doesn’t even have any constructions that other Indo-European languages use, so it’s little wonder that English speakers get those names completely messed up!

      First up, I did find one other user on Geni with a relative from “Widgerin”, but they give no clues to its whereabouts.

      Secondly, there is no “W” in the Lithuanian alphabet, and English ‘listeners’ sometimes used it to replace a “V, as it’s often assumed to be like Polish (which it’s not). Working on that assumption, I’ve looked up a list of Lithuanian towns, and the nearest construction I can find with a ‘V’ that has some of the other parts of “Widgerin” is a town called Vadžgirys, which is near the town of Tauragė on my map. That’s only a guess, but here’s a link to Lithuanian towns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_towns_in_Lithuania

      Another problem is that many places that existed in the 19th century have disappeared – remember the Germans alone made 70,000 Russian villages ‘disappear’ during WW2. Lithuania was ravaged by both the Russians and the Germans. Unfortunately, old maps are hard to find, and were mostly in Russian anyway.

      Also, Wagramowicz and Berkobein do not sound like Lithuanian names to me – the first sounds Polish, the second German … but I’m only guessing there.

      Sorry I can’t help you better. If you ever find that place, let me know!

      Alan

  2. Hello – I’m researching my husband’s family, Kaleskas, who lived in Spicer or Spiciai in the late 1800s through about 1906. Records also indicate Kaunas. Any idea where “ Spicer” might be? Thank you!

    • Hi Darcy,
      I’ve looked up a list of Lithuanian towns, but can’t find anything very similar to “Spiciai”. Unfortunately, because Lithuanian is such a unique language, most Anglicisations of family and place names end up wildly inaccurate, and I have a number I cannot locate.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_towns_in_Lithuania#See_also

      Kaunas (orig. Kovno) is a county capital 100km west of the national capital, Vilnius, and even a search of its regional towns does not reveal anything similar to “Speciai”.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Towns_in_Kaunas_County

      My family left Lauckaimis, Vilkaviški, in 1903, in the same wave of emigration as your family. Mine went first to Scotland, and the younger ones eventually to Bayonne, New Jersey.

      If you have any other clues, let me know.

      Cheers,

      Alan

      • Hi Alan – thank you for checking! I did find Spičiai as a tiny municipality in Google, but it’s about 120km north of Kaunas.

  3. Hi, My grandfather on his Declaration of Intention in the U.S. said he was from Ribartu. Then on his Social Security Application he said he was born in Vilkauiski County, Russia. He was Lithuanian. I have not been able to find Ribartu on a map. Can you locate either of these places? His name was Juczapas Dominikjtis, and later Joseph Dominicks. Thank you.

    • Hello Julie,

      I’ve had a look and search for “Ribartu” or something like it, but no luck, I’m afraid. I’ve even checked on an old map of Vilkaviškis written in Polish, but again without finding anything similar (tho’ Polish versions of Lithuanian names can be quite different).

      However, “Vilkaviškis” is a town and regional district immediately east of the Russian Exclave of Kaliningrad, a current hot spot with the situation in Ukraine. You can see my map of that area on:

      https://www.craig-galt.info/maps/lithuania-maps/vilkaviskis-district-map/

      As with my family when they arrived in Scotland or the USA, Lithuanian spelling was way too hard for the registrars, who would often just write something that sounded vaguely similar to what they were being told – and who also assumed that the immigrant was talking Polish (which has no relationship with Lithuanian).

      Anyway, I’ll send you my old map with Polish names, and maybe if you scour it inch by inch, you might find something that might look like “Ribartu”. Remember, a Polish “W” is actually a “V”. 🙂

      Good luck with your research, and please let me know if you have any success.

      Cheers,

      Alan

  4. Hi Alan!
    I’m not sure if you’re still helping folks look for places in Lithuania but if you have any ideas what I’m looking for I’d be so grateful.

    My great-grandfather came to the US from Lithuania in 1906. On his Declaration of Intention it says he’s from Losia but I can’t figure out what name it was supposed to be.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Joyce,
      Hmm … I’ve had a bit of a look, and the nearest I can find to “Losia” is “Lifosa”, which is just to the northeast of Kaunas. If your document is handwritten, you could check to see if that might fit.
      Any idea of the region he came from?
      Alan

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