Figure 1.--Here we see a Lithuanian family in 1940, a time in which the Soviet Union as part of the Bon Agressin pact with NAZI Germany was in the process of taking over the country. They look like a prosperous middle class family. The boy has close cropped hair, a stle no longer common in neighboring Germany, but still common in Poland. He wears a whire short pants sailor suit with sheer long stockings, and black strap shoes. He wears below the knee under wear suggesting cold weather, but his sister wears white anklets with her strap shoes.

Lithuania has for years been associated with Russia. Until 1918 it was part of the Russian Empire. As a Baltic country, Lithuania was exposed to Western influences more than most areas of Russia. It was briefly independent until seized by Stalin in 1940 and then occupied by the NAZIs in 1941. After World War II it was administered as a Republic of the Soviet Union. As a result of its historical experience, Lithuanian fashions have been stronly influemced by Russian and German fashions. Hopefully our Lithuanian readers will provide further information.


Lithuania is the most southerly of the Baltic republics. It is bordered by Russia (Kalingrad), Poland, Belarus, and Latvia. The largest city and capital is Vilna. The majpr port os Memel. Other important cities incluse Kaunas, Panevezys. The terraine is a generally flat, well watered plain, part of the morther European plain. The geography meant a close association with Poland for centuries and more recently domintion by Russia.


Lithuania was a medieval grand duchy ( -1385), a grand principality of Poland (1385-1795), a part of the Russian Empire (1795-1918), an independent republic (1918-40), a republic of the Soviet Union (1940-1991), and finally an independent republic again (1991- ). Linguistic work suggests that the Lithuanians may have first appeared on the basin of the upper Dnipper River. Archeological work suggests that the Lituanians arrived in the Baltic about 2500 BC. The first known historical reference to Baltic peoples is by the Roman historian Tacitus in his work Germania (1st century AD). The first specific mention of Lithuanians occurs in a medieval Prussian manuscript--the Quedlinburg Chronicle (1009). Medieval lords in Prussia and Russia began to pressure the Baltics. A loose federation of Lituanian tribes emerged as a defensive measure. The Lithuanians more effectively resisted the Teutonic Knights than other Baltic tribes (13th century). The Teutonic knights were attempting to Christanize the Baltic tribes and to seize their land making them feudal vassals. Mindaugas forged a loose federation of the still largely pagan Lithuanian tribes (1251). He was crowned king, the only Lithuanian ever to achieve that status. Mindaugas defeated the Teutinic Knights in a major battle (1260). The Jagellons, a dynasty of Lithuanian grand dukes forged an enormous empire streaching from the Black Sea to the Baltic. The Empire was begun by Gediminas ( -1340) and expanded by his sons, Olgierd ( -1377) and Keitutas. Olgierd's son Jagello assasinated his uncle and became the reigning duke. Jagello married Polish Queen Jadwiga and accepted Roman Catholocism (1386). Gramd Duke Witold (Vytautas the Great) revolted against the Jagello (1390). He created a huge state by conquest one of the largest states in Europe (1400). The Lithuanians gained a crushing military victory against the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Tannenberg (1410). Casimir IV, Jangello's son, negotiated an alliance with lithuania. Alexander I who succeeded as Polish king in 1501 gave the two countries a single ruler. It was agreed at Lublin to have an elected king and a common legislature (1569). It was at this time that Poland becan to experience increasing military pressure Grand Dukes of Moscow--the predecessors of the Tsars. Poland's inability to compete with powerful neighbors resulted in partition (1772, 1793, and 1795). Most of Lithuania became a part of the Russian Empire with small part going to Prussia as well. During and after the Napoleonic Wars there were nationalist insurrections (1812, 1831, 1863, and 1905). The German Army achieved major victories on the Eastern Front during World War I and occupied Lithiania. In the disorders following World War I and the Russian Revolution, Lithuania declared independence (February 1918), but was forced to engage the Germans, Poles, and Russians (Bolsheviks). The Poles captured and held Vilnus. A League of Nations plebecite confirmed Polish possession of Vilnus, but Lithuania did not drop its claim. Relations with Poland were not established until 1938. Even before World War II, NAZI Germany seized Memel with its large German population. The Soviets seized the country in 1940 as invisioned under the NAZI-Soviet Non-aggression Pact. The Soviets arrested large numbers of Lithuanians and deported whole families. When the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union (June 1941), many Lithuanians greeted them as liberators and supported the NAZI war effort. Some Lithuanians joined the German military. When the Soviets retook Lithuania (1944) those that collaborated or were suspected of collaborating with the NAZIs were dealt with harshly. Estimates suggest that 10 percent of the Lithuanian people were arrested or deported. The Soviets also promoted Russian emmigration to Lithuania. The Soviet seizure of Lithuania and the other Baltic states was never recognized by the United States and other Western European countries. Lithuania finally achieved its independence again with the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991).


Before the Soviet occupation Lithuanian was an agricultural country with virtually no mineral resources and limited industry. Considerable industrialization took place during the Soviet era. The Lituanian economy grew after leaving the Soviet Union (1991). In the 21st century the ecomomy was growing around 8 percent a year. Lithuania joined th European Union (EU) (2004). The country continued to grow, but was badly hurt by the 2008 orld economic criis. The gross domestic product fell by nearly 15 per cent (2009). Unemployment became a serious problem and continues to be high--11 percent (2014). The services sector is the core of the econmy, emplying most workers. Industry employs about a third of workers. Only abour 4 percent of the work force is in agriculture which once dominated the economy, but pople in rural areas often suffer from poverty. The economic problems have caused social problems to fester. Organised crime and corruption are cintinuing problms. Authorities have suceeded inbreducing violent crime, but Lithuania still has one of the highest homicide rates in the European Union. The health care sustem has improved since leaving the Soviet Uinion. Lithuania still has one of the lowest life expectancy rates and suiside rates within the EU. Many Lithuanians have emigrated in search of a higher paying jobs in other EU countrues. The population of Lithuania has fallen by about 180,000 since the country joined the EU, a substantial number in a small country like Lithuania.


Before World War II the population of about 3 million was about 80 percent Lithuanian. The ethnicity of the Lithuanians is a matter of conjecture but appaer to be related to the Letts of Latvia and the Slavs of Poland and the Beylorus and western Russia. The Lithuanian language is highly inflected with a clear relationship to Sanskrit. There was an important German minority in Lithuania--part of the Baltic Germans or Balts. Most returned to the Reich in 1939-40. Lithuania had an important Jewish community, but was virtually totally destroyed by the NAZI holocaust during World War II. Lithuania like the other Baltic republics achieved independence as a result of the turmoil associated with World War I and the Russian Revolution. At the time the population was primarily ethnic Lithuanian. The NAZI-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (1939) permitted Stalin to carry out a series of aggressions, including the occupation of Lithuania (1940). Stalin ordered the KGB to arrest and deport many Lithuanaians. Many never returned. Stalin also encouraged the emmigration of ethnic Russians to alter the ethnic ballance. Many Russians came to Lithuania because living conditions were generally above that common in Russia. As a result, after World War II the poulation of Russians increased substantially and affected the ethnic ballance in the country.


Lithuanian boys' clothing, as in the case in many countries at high northern lattitudes, is strongly influenced by the climate. The climate in Winter can be severe, but the country also has a relatively hot summer.

National Influences

Estonia has for years been associated with Russia. Until 1918 it was part of the Russian Empire. As a Baltic country, Lithuania was exposed to Western influences more than most areas of Russia. It was briefly independent until seized by Stalin in 1940 and then occupied by the NAZIs in 1941. After World War II it was administered as a Republic of the Soviet Union. As a result of its historical experience, Lithuanian fashions have been stronly influenced by Russian and German fashions.


We do not yet have chronological informstion on boys fashions in Lithuania over time. A factor here was political changes and ecoinomic trends. We see Russian fashions in the 19th cenury. This seems to have been a general peasant fashion throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. In the cities there was a German influence. After independence we see fashions that look very similar to German fashions. This probably reflects the influence of the large German fashion industry as well as reduced trade and the lack of cultural exchanges with the new Soviet Union. Unlike the other Baltic Republics, Lithuania did not even have a border with the Soviet Union.


We have noted Lithuanian boys wearing the same basic garments and styles as those worn in neighboring Germany, Russia, and other countries. German styles seem particulsarly important before Woeld War II. A factor here was not only the large German garment infustry, but the substantial number of ethnic Germans living in the Baltics. Lirguania of course boirdered on Germany. Many boys wore short pantsm including h-bar shorts. Both knee socks and long stockings were common. Lithuanian boys during the Soviet era seem to have been dressed a little more stylishly than boys in other areas of the Soviet Union. We noted that vests were seen as very stylish in the 1970s. After World War I many boys wore short pants, often with long stockings. Suspender and H-bar shorts were common for younger boys. Lituanian children by the 1980s seem to be weating the same styles and garments as children in the rest of Europe. An exception appears to have neen tights. Boys more commonly wore tights in the Soviet Union than the rest of Europe. And this appears to have been the case in Lithusania as well,

Hair Styles

We notice a lot of boys with close-cropped hair in the early and mid-20th century. This was especially common among working-class families. We believe that one of the reasons for the popukarity of this style was the prevalent sanitary conditions. Also it was inexpensive becaise mother could clip the boy's hair and he did not have to be sent to the barber. Boys in more affluent families were more likely to have at least enough hair to comb. Note the middle-class family here. After World War II, bangs became a popular style for boys.



Education of course is the primary children's activity. The Lituanian education system was heavily influenced by the Soviet system. We note boys without school uniforms right after World War II, but presumably as the country began to recover from the War, the standard Soviet school uniform became more common. Since independence, Lithuanian school children no longer wear uniforms, although private schools do have basic uniforms. I'm unsure just what other changes have taken place in education since independence. One change is there are now schools that operate in the Lithuanian as well as the Russian language. About 80 pecent of the population was Roman Catholic before World War II. The reamibser was Jewish, Lutherans (the German minority), and Orthodox (the Russians). As a result of the World War II, few Jews or Luthers exist in the country, but the influx of Russians has ben more Orthodox Christains. The 50 years of Soviet rule, however reduced the importance of religion in the national life. We notice some Lituanian choral groups. We have no infomation on historical choirs founded bt the Catholic churcjes. The first choir we know of was founded during the Soviet era. We do not yet have much information about the Lithuanian youth movement. Until World War I, Lithuamia was part of the Russian Empire. After the War Lithuania along with the other Baltic states achieved its independence. We know that there was an active Scout movement. We do note a Jewish Scout patrol in 1927 before World war II. We do not know if any other youth movements were popular in Lithuania during the inter-War era. The NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact divided Eastern Europe into zones of infuence (1939). There was some disagreement over Lithuania. The NAZIs seized Memel even before sugning the Non-Agression Pact and invading Poland (1939). The Soviets after the beginning of World war II incorporated Lithuania as a Soviet Reoublic (1940). The Soviets supressed Scouting. Soon afterward the NAZIs invaded and occupied the country (1941). I do not think the NAZI authorities launched a Lithuanian youth movement, but have few details at this time. The Soviets after reoccupying the country (1944) founded the Young Pioneer movement. This was a Soviet youth movement and not a specifically Lithuanian movement. Many Russians moved to Lithuania during the Soviet era. As in the rest of the Sovier Union, the Young Pioneeer movement disappeared after the disolution of the Soviet Union and the ending of government support and subsidies. The Scoting movement after Lithuania achieved its independence has been revived.

Folk Costuming

Ethnic Groups

Lithuania had a diverse population which included Poles, White Russians, Germans, and Jews. Hitler ordered the Baltic Germans back tp the Reich (1940) aand most complied. Lithuania's vibrant Jewish minority was largely killed by the NAZIs and collaborating Lituanian militias during the Holocaust. Stalin deported many ethnic Lithuamiasns and promoted Russian emigration so that there is today a significant Russian minority.


The first film known to have been made in Lithuania was shot by Lithuanian-American Antanas Raciunas. He filmed the sights of his native village for fellow Lithuanian immigrants. Raciunas and Vladislavas Starevicius made "Prie Nemuno"/"By the Nieman River" (1909). The first actual Lithuanian film was a newsreel made after World War I and Lithuanian independence (1921). The first Lithuanian feature film was "Onyte ir Jonelis"/"Annie and Johnn" (1931). It was directed by Jurgis Linartas and Vladas Stipaitis. Lithuanian movie theaters as a result showed mostly foreign films. We are not sure which country films were the most popular, we suspect American and German films. We do not know if Soviet films were shown. The Lithuanian film indutry had little time to develop before Woirld War II and the Soiviet occupation and annexation (1940/44). Early in the Soviet era a newsreel studio was opened. It was moved to Vilnius (1949). It developed into the Lithuanian Film Studio/Cinema Studio of Lithuania (1956). One of their films was Electronnaya Babooshka/Electronic Granny (1985) based on a Ray Bradbury book. We suspect the choice of a Bradury book was a subtle critcism of Soviet censorship, although this was a non-political children's film.

European Union


Related Baltic Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Estonia] [Latvia] [Lithuania] [Prussia]

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[The 1880s] [The 1890s]
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Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Smocks] [Long pants suits] [Knicker suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers]
[Blazer] [School sandals] [School smocks] [Sailor suits] [Pinafores] [Long stockings]

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Created: April 13, 2004
Last updated: 7:38 PM 9/15/2019