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DIPLOMATIC KAUNAS

As far as Kaunas was the most important city nearly for two centuries, it became diplomatic city visited by high rank executives and ambassadors representing their countries. To learn the 1919-1940 years period one is invite to the V. Putvinskio street often named as the street of embassies. It is worth visiting the historical constituent house of Parliament, to see embassies which functioned at that time, Ministry of Foreign affairs, Presidential residence of the Republic of Lithuania.

1. The historical constituent house of Parliament (Gimnazijos st. 3)
The building was constructed in 1862 m., in 1873-1883 Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis the great Lithuanian poet and symbol of the rebirth of the nation, studied and finished the higher school here. On the 27 January 1920 high courses - the first high school of independent Lithuania was established. 1920-1935 – the first floor hosted the public state library. The constituent and the three following parliaments of Lithuania worked here from 1920 until 1927. The interior of the building was designed by architect Vladimiras Dubeneckis. Aleksandras Stulginskis was elected as the President of Lithuania for the period 1922 - 1923 years by the majority, in June 1926– Kazys Grinius and in December of the same year – Antanas Smetona were elected. The solemn ceremonies of the oath of Presidents were executed here and the newly declared President was escorted to the President house.

2. Historic Palace of the President of the Republic of Lithuania in Kaunas (Vilniaus g. 33)
The history of the Historic Presidential Palace started in 1846. Between 1998 and 2003, the Presidential Palace underwent restoration and, at present, welcomes visitors to a branch of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art. The Presidential Palace is symbolically ‘guarded’ by the bronze statues of Antanas Smetona, Kazys Grinius and Aleksandras Stulginskis, the three Presidents of the interwar period.

3. The historical house of Foreign affairs (Maironio st. 27)
This building from 1912–1913 y. is constructed in neoclassicism and modernism architecture. The author of the project - architect Michailas Prozorovas. Until 1915 y. this building hosted Kaunas division of Russian state bank. During the First World War when Germans army occupied the city, Kaunas division of German bank was opened in it. When Lithuania proclaimed independence, creation of the Lithuanian bank division started, but after Kaunas had become the interim capital of Lithuania, the office of Ministers was opened here from 3 January 1919 until 1921. During that period five offices of Ministers functioned, staring from the first until the sixth government. In our days the faculty of public security of Vilnius Mykolas Romeris University is established here.

4. USA consulate and embassy (V. Putvinskio str. 68)
Built in 1930 on the project of Petras Gordevičius belonged to Kaunas burgomaster Jonas Vileišis. It is of irregular plan, three storied with cellars and inner yard, built in modernistic and functional style. The owner was a lawyer, the signatory of the act of Independence of the 16 February 1918, burgomaster of the city, public educator. Since 31 May of 1930 the consulate and embassy of the United States was established in this building, which was liquidated on the 5th September 1940.

5. General consulate of Sweden (V. Putvinskio str. 64)
Constructed in 1928 under the project of architect Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis for the painter and public educator Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, reconstructed in 1938 . This is a three storied, irregular form building with a basement, example of an early modernism. Most of its interior is authentic. There was a Swedish consulate here in 1930–1931. Well known Swedish and Finish writer Henry Parland worked here as a secretary .He was born on the 29 July 1908 in Viborg, Finland – died 10 November 1930 in Kaunas and buried in the city cemetery. This building hosts the museum Antanas Žmuidzinavičius art works and collections now.

6. Consulates of Argentina and Czechoslovakia (V. Putvinskio str. 60)
It was one of the most popular among diplomatic organizations of that time: in 1940 it had the office of Argentina consulate, 1939–1940 – Swedish consulate office, 1934–1939 – the third floor hosted the office Czechoslovakia consulate. In 1933 architect Bronius Elsbergas made a project for a house for the notary Kazys Škėma instead of a wooden house which was here before. The first project was made by K. Dušauskas-Duš, later it was passed to B. Elsbergas. He left the same facades basically, but re planned part of interior. The building is five storied with elevator. There was a project for garages and orangery in the yard.

7. Vatican’s Enunciate (V. Putvinskio str. 56)
The only building in Kaunas, which was constructed exactly for its mission – diplomatic representation. The project was made by architect Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis in 1930. Characteristic with the building’s interior was functional planning of premises as an innovative feature peculiar to the most famous examples of modernism. When relations between the Church and the Lithuanian government became worse in 1931, enunciate had to leave the country. In 1932 the house was leased and adapted to the hospital for children. In 1940 a new enunciate arrived to Lithuania, but the country was occupied by the Soviet Union, so the enunciate couldn’t start working. After the World War II there was a kinder garden here, from 1971 – Department of culture, from 1973 – house for artists.

8. Hungarian honorary consulate (V. Putvinskio str. 54)
Three storied house started in 1933 with basement and penhouse – was an idea of architect V. Netyska. The house belonged to V. and V. Giliai. In 1938–1939 one of its apartments hosted an office of Hungarian honorary vise consulate. Vise consul dr. Aronas Braudė lived there as well, he performed his responsibilities as vice-consul in Kaunas after the first honorary vice-consul’s of Hungary Jonas Dobkevičius office.

9. Library – museum of President Valdas Adamkus (S. Daukanto str. 25)
1922 – 1935 the Ministry of Foreign affairs was established here, with independence in 1994 – the institute of Lithuanian immigrants of Vytautas Magnus university was opened. In 2015 when reconstructing the building, many valuable parts were preserved – authentic planning of interior wasn’t changed also decorations of ceilings, etc. Next to the institute, the museum-library of the President Valdas Adamkus was opened, his belongings and archive documents are exhibited and preserved in it.

10. Office of Ministers of Lithuania (K. Donelaičio str. 58)
In 1919 this building hosted Ministry of Education, from 1921 – Office of Ministers, which functioned until occupation of Lithuania in 1940. The house was reconstructed in 1924, the sides of the building became higher, interior integrated new elements. In 1930 full reconstruction of the building was made. On the second floor a new official apartment was equipped, which played a representative function as well. In 1935–1939 the Minister of Foreign affairs Stasys Lozoraitis (1898–1983) with his family lived here. Nowadays we have a rectorate of Vytautas Magnus university as well as a museum of diplomats S. and S. Lozoraitis in this building.

11. Embassy of France. (V. Putvinskio str. 14)
The embassy of France was built in 1926 under the project of Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis. The house belonged to Juozas Landsbergis. The office of the French consulate functioned in that house in 1929–1932, but the ambassador and authorized minister of France lived here much longer, until 1940.

12. Japanese consulate (Vaižganto str. 30)
Before the World War II Japanese vise consul Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara (1901–1986) resided in Kaunas consulate from 1939 to1940. On the July –August 1940 this diplomate issued Japanese transit visas to Jews from Lithuania, Poland and even Germany. These visas saved nearly 6000 innocent people from Holocaust. At that time the gates near the house by the majority of Jews were called “The gates of hope”. On the 2nd August 1940 all foreign embassies were closed in Lithuania, but Japanese consulate moved to “Metropolis” restaurant and continued giving visas there. Later in Kaunas train station, next to the platform they put a small table, where Sugihara was able to issue tenths of visas just before departing Lithuania. In 1985 Yad Vashem granted Chiune Sugihara the Title of the World Righteous. In our days the house introduces visitors with an exposition “Visas for life”.

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