Historical personalities of the Bank of Lithuania. Jonas Masiulis

2 October 2022 marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Bank of Lithuania and the first money — the litas. The establishment of the Issuing Bank of Lithuania, the issuance of litas banknotes, and the creation of the national monetary system is an event of epochal significance, as it was done for the first time in the history of the state of Lithuania. It is a great opportunity to remember the first bankers of independent Lithuania, people whose activities, patriotic feelings, and determined decisions allowed Lithuania to become a modern, economically self-sufficient state. In this article, we present a Member of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, agronomist and businessman Jonas Masiulis. 

He was born in 1870, in the Russian Empire, in the governorship of Samara, where his father was exiled after the 1864 uprising. His parents sent him as a child to Lithuania so that he to not lose his Lithuanian identity. He studied at the Panevėžys realgymnasium, later graduated from agronomic studies and lived in Vilnius. After graduating, he worked as an afforestation inspector in the Vilnius, Kaunas Governorates, as well as a clerk in the Minsk Governorate, administered various forests in the Volhynia Governorate (Ukraine). Later he worked as an agronomist at the Land Management Commission and was seconded to study meadow and puddle cultures in Western Europe. 

In Vilnius, he became involved in the activities of Lithuanian culturalists; for example, he was one of the founders of the Lithuanian society Ruta. The Society took care of the cultural life of Lithuanians, and several hundred people participated in its activities. 

Masiulis also contributed to the development of the industry, because, together with the engineer Pranas Jodelė (who found chalk formations suitable for cement production near the Merkys River) and Jonas Basanavičius, he organised a cement production company. 

After Lithuania regained its independence, Masiulis settled in Kaunas, was elected to the City Council and Board, and in 1920 — from the Farmers Union to the Constituent Seimas. He worked in the Land Reform Commission and contributed to the drafting of the Provisional Constitution and the Electoral Law. He retired from the Seimas. He refused the Seimas mandate because “as the Constituent Seimas started to delay the Land reform because of the telegraph, I felt out of place.” After that, he worked in various economic societies, and established public limited liability companies (such as Maistas, Plyta, Žalgiris, etc.). In later years, he worked in the Chamber of Agriculture, headed central economic organisations, and in 1923 he was a Member of the Board of the Lithuanian Union of Agronomists. 

In 1929, Masiulis became a Member of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania and held two terms of office (until 1936). In 1937, he entered the Kaunas Stock Exchange Board. He was a member of the Lithuanian Club and the Association of Amateur Hunters (these organisations included many representatives of the political elite). He was awarded the 3rd Degree Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (15 May 1928), and the 10th Anniversary of the Independence of Lithuania Medal (1928).

After the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, Masiulis was dismissed from all positions and was soon sentenced to ten years for “sabotage.” He was arrested and deported to Karaganda, where he died in 1942.