Germany hands over key independence document to Lithuania

January 17, 2018
Head of the Political Archive of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Professor Elke von Boeselager, left, shakes hands with Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite after handing over Independence act Wednesday Jan. 17, 2018 at president's office in Vilnius. The copy of the Lithuania 1918 Independence Act found in the archives of Germany's foreign ministry, has been returned to the Baltic country but only on loan. (Lithuanian President Press Service via AP)

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — A copy of Lithuania’s 1918 Independence Act found in German archives has been returned to the Baltic country, but only on loan.

President Dalia Grybauskaite says “one of the most important national documents has reached us at the most appropriate time” ahead of the country’s centennial.

Grybauskaite received Wednesday the document — to be returned to Germany in 2023 — from German government archivist Elke von Boeselager.

A Lithuanian scholar last year discovered the missing document, which apparently was sent in 1918 to inform Germany that it could no longer control the territory that was occupied by German Empire troops. The original of the act was kept in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas but disappeared in 1940 when Soviet Russia occupied the country.

Lithuania was independent from 1918 to 1940, and regained its freedom in 1990.

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