Third lecture 3X3

On 20 January, the third public lecture from the cycle 3×3 was delivered at the Money Museum.

This time, Tomas Grėlis, Senior Specialist at the Money Museum, talked about the history of the Bank of Lithuania. He not only introduced the history itself but also presented interesting facts from interwar daily life, the life of outstanding historical figures, etc.

Here are the ten major facts that were told during the lecture.

– The first state bank may have been established as early as in the 16th c. — during the reign of Stephen Bathory. It was an idea of his, but the Bank was never established due to the ruler’s death;

– The first bank in the territory of Lithuania was established in the 18th c. in the city of Klaipėda (then the Kingdom of Prussia); the first commercial bank in Lithuania was Vilnius Land Bank. In its building (Gedimino pr. 6, Vilnius) the Bank of Lithuania operates today;

– After 16 February 1918, German money (Ostmarks, renamed auksinai) circulated in Lithuania. When creating the national currency, the idea was to name it muštinis or skatikas; however, this idea was abandoned.

– The basis for issuing the national currency and founding the Bank of Lithuania was the Peace Treaty with Russia of 12 July 1920: Lithuania got 3 million gold roubles as compensation and this provided the basis for issuing its own currency;

– One of the main functions of the Bank of Lithuania is currency issue (issue into circulation). The Bank of Lithuania started operating on 2 October 1922; on the same day litas appeared in circulation;

– The first Governor of the Bank of Lithuania was Vladas Jurgutis — a professor and economist who founded the Ateitininkai Organisation and was Lithuania’s Foreign Minister for a short time. He was the Bank’s Governor for 8 years (he resigned from office in 1929);

– The buildings of the Bank of Lithuania in Kaunas — a masterpiece of interwar architecture — were constructed in 1928 (architect Mykolas Songaila). They not only housed an operations hall, a huge vault with a door weighing 3 tons, but also an 8-room flat for the then Prime Minister Augustinas Voldemaras;

– On 15 June 1940 the USSR occupied Lithuania and nationalised the Bank of Lithuania, which became an Office of the State Bank of the Soviet Union. Having expropriated the Bank’s assets, the Soviets also aimed to expropriate the Bank of Lithuania’s gold reserves held with foreign banks (most of them were in Great Britain and France). All countries except Sweden refused to do this. In 1992, the State’s gold was returned to Lithuania, while Sweden paid compensation;

– The Bank of Lithuania was re-established on 1 March 1990; the litas appeared in circulation on 25 June 1993 (until then, temporary talonas currency was in circulation);

– On Lithuania’s accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004, the Bank of Lithuania became part of the European Central Bank. After meeting all the requirements, in 2015 Lithuania became a member of the euro area.