Publication Date

April 2018

Advisor(s)

Victoria Smolkin

Major

Russian & E. European Studies, College of Social Studies

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

In the summer of 1944, as the tide of WWII turned in favor of the USSR, the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania ? a small, predominantly Catholic country on its western border. However, it would take another seven years before Communist power in Lithuania was firmly established and Soviet Lithuania became fact. In many ways, ?Sovietization? of Lithuania depended on neutralizing the influence of the Catholic Church, both inside the new Soviet borders, where it remained perhaps the most powerful social institution in Lithuania, and abroad, where the Vatican acted as a mobilizing force for both the exiles who continued to fight for an independent Lithuania and the Western governments that covertly supported the Lithuanian cause. In this way, Lithuania became a battleground in one of the most important conflicts of the twentieth century: between the Communist Soviet Union and the anti-Communist Vatican. This thesis traces the strategies employed by both the Soviet authorities and the Catholic hierarchy and their respective agents ? the Soviet security apparatus (MGB/KGB) and the Jesuits ? to neutralize the opponent and secure their own power. In particular, it will focus on the control of information as a tool that had the power to make political borders real.

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