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Berlin archive find

Lithuanian independence document 'found' in Berlin

Lithuania is examining a historian's claim that a rare signed version of the Baltic nation's 1918 independence declaration has been found in Berlin. Soviet annexation interrupted nationhood until 1990.

Historian Liudas Mazylis grabbed headlines in his native Lithuania late Wednesday after his university published a photo of a Lithuanian-language document said to have been found in the German Foreign Ministry's archive in Berlin.

Mazylis, a professor at the Vytautas Magnus University (VDU) in Kaunas - Lithuania's former capital - told the AFP news agency that the declaration with 20 clearly original signatures was found next to a German-language version inside a folder.

Fotografie der Unabhängigkeitserklärung Litauens (Liudas Mazylis)

Lithuanian document discovered in Berlin

'Joyful,' says Grybauskaite

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said it was "likely" that the Lithuanian version was one of only a few remaining originals.

It was a "joyful" find, she said, ahead of the centenary of her nation, which last week was featured at Germany's Leipzig Book Fair.

Lithuania was once medieval Europe's main players but was gradually partitioned by neighboring empires.

Its independence, gained towards the end of World War One as the Bolshevik revolution swept Russia, culminated in Cold War annexation by Moscow. 

Lithuania became the first ex-Soviet republic to declare independence in 1990.

ipj/bw (AFP)

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