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Jan S. Krogh's Geosite: Vištytis

Vištytis is located in the South Western corner of Lithuania. In west is the Russian Federation (undemarcated land borderline) and in south the border to Poland.

A small about 2 ha territory with three Lithuanian families populating two farmsteads was on 1 Feb 2004 transferred from Russia to Lithuania after 14 years of bilateral negotiations.  But – Russia was compensated a similar sized, but unpopulated land from Lithuania. A fourth Lithuanian farmstead located west of a Russian military compound and the two other farmsteads, were not included in the territory switch.
A Lithuanian-Russian border crossing for local citizen were at the same time closed down, resulting in that the remaining Lithuanian family had to travel almost one hour with car in order to legally enter Lithuania. Their small son could not attend his Lithuanian school in Vistytis anymore, but was transferred to a Russian school.
The Lithuanian farmers at Vistytis lost at the same time access to the pasture on the Russian side of the new boundary. 8)

The boundary between Klein Kallweitschen (later Klein Kornberg) in East Prussia of Germany and Vištytis in Lithuania was regulated according to the border treaty of 1928 1). From 1944 East Prussia became Soviet and later Russian land. The small territory left of the red vertical stroke is the 2 ha land (approximate area) which according to the 1997 treaty was swapped from Russia to Lithuania. At the same time Lithuania started to lease about 1/3 of the lake. 2a),

This sketch shows the approximate area of the swapped territory at Dariaus ir Gireno street in the town of Vištytis. LTRU borderpoint no 5 is at the shore, 100 m southwest of closest roadcross and 150 m northeast of River Pisa brigde. From this point the border is going 80 m northwest where it turns northeast and runs 280 m to the ditch.  The total swapped territory appears to be about 2 ha.

Source: Atlas von Preussen, Kreis Goldapp (A. 267.V.11), Verlag von C. Flemming, Glogau, post 1850.

German map fragment from World War I (about 1916). Here the border south of the town of Vištytis is following the shore and a separate fishing border is drawn in the lake.

A mixed German-Russian map also from around WWI, probably published after the German map, increased the fishingzone slightly since its eastern shore point is moved a bit more south. Bordermarker numbers are also included.  The German part of the map seems to be identical to the first map. 

According to Treaty between The German Reich and the Republic of Lithuania, regarding the Settlement of Frontier Questions, signed at Berlin, January 29, 1928,1) the Lithuanian border with Germany controlled the same 1908-1912 demarcated line between Königsberg Region of Prussia and the Russia.  The German-Russian map above seems to show the numbers of this first demarcation. No 34 seems to be identical with no 147, and no 35 is probably the same as No 149.

The Germans had not accepted more but to let the Lithuanian farmers horses to get access to drinking water from the northern lake bank.

Lithuania held only a small part of Lake Vištytis at the northern Vištytis campus, but without the right to fish in the lake. 

Its Article 3 1) said:
"... From the Memel as far as the line of demarcation between Lithuania and Poland the frontier is indicated by frontier posts, frontier mounds, frontier ditches, frontier waterways (Schessuppe, Schirwindt and Lepone) and by the limits of the waters of the Wysztiter See.

Between frontier posts No. 147 and No. 149 the frontier intersects the Wysztiter See.
The land frontier marks (frontier stones, frontier posts and frontier mounds) are common to the two States.

On the sectors where the frontier is constituted by the Schessuppe, the Schirwindt and the Lepone and by the old Schirwindt and the old Lepone, it is indicated laterally by double marks set up opposite one another on the territory of the two States.

These double frontier marks will remain the property of the State on whose territory they are set up."

While the German-Russian border had several bordermarkers on the eastern shore of Lake Vištytis, the German-Lithuanian border had only two; one in the north and one in the south.

Fragment from German road map from 1927. One of the first road atlases from this area. 
Source: Dunlop-Strassen-Karte, Blatt 8 - Suwalki.

The image from above is a fragment from Lietuvos sienos 3), map no 70.

Article 37 of the Treaty said 1):

“Inhabitants of the Lithuanian territory bordering on the Wystiter See shall have the right to use the water for industrial purposes on the frontier sector between frontier posts No. 149 and No. 150, any time from sunrise to sunset and, in case of emergency, even during the night.

Inhabitants of the Lithuanian territory shall be prohibited, between posts No. 149 and No. 150, from engaging in fishing or any occupation that might interfere with fishing.”

On the maps above and below we can see the location of bordermarker no 143. It was standing on a field just north of the town of Vištytis and northeast of Kleinkornberg 7). Text on the photo "Wystiten, am Grenzpfahl 143" (Vištytis, at bordermarker 143). 

Fragment from German 1:25.000 topographic map published in 1944, 15102 Kornberg. Here is the boundary part from bordermarker no 142 to no 149. (Click on the image to get up hi-res image.) Source: Kujawsko-Pomorska Digital LIbrary

Fragment from Soviet map N-34-46 (N-34-058) from 1985 retrieved from here.  The former border was for almost 60 years an administration line between 1) the Russian Soviet Federative Socialistic Republic and the Lithuanian Socialistic Soviet Republic (1944-1990), later 2) Soviet Union and Lithuania (1990-1991), and eventually 3) Russian Federation and Lithuania (1991-2003).

(Image: Lithuanian Geografinis Žemėlapis fragment, 1:50.000, Vilnius 2001).

Lithuanian borderguards started organizing national border service in Vištytis from October 1990. On 20 April 1992 a minor incident occured when three Lithuanian men attempted to smuggle coffee and sweets from Lithuania to Russia. A Lithuanian borderguard had to use his gun in order to stop the men who were from the city of Kaunas. For brave behaviour the borderguard was awarded a watch by the minister.4)

During the Soviet period (1940-1990) Lake Vištytis remained unchanged with just 39.8 hectares, 2.2% of the lake area on Lithuanian hands. The entire lake's area makes 1660 ha. Its length from north to south is 8 km. Negotiations between the Republic of Lithuania and the Russian Federation in the 1990s only consolidated the former German Reich border. The Lithuanian negotiators tried at least at some part to increase of the Lithuanian part of Lake Vištytis.   

On 24 Oct 1997 Lithuania and Russia signed and in 2003 the Treaty on the Lithuanian-Russian state border was finally ratified and effective.  According to the Lithuanian newspaper Lietyvos rytas was regarded  as “the absolute joy of our young country's diplomatic victory”.

The Lithuanian side wished the border should go in the middle of the lake 4) since Lithuanians during the Soviet period had been responsible for environmental work in the lake, among other fish cropping.  But the post-1990 lake boundary was the same as the 1920-40 border, and almost a copy of the old (1912-1920) German-Russian border, only with minor adjustments in the area between the town of Vištytis and the Lithuanian-Polish-Russian tripoint. 

The 2003 Treaty resulted with a land switch of 2 ha and a lease of 525 ha (31.6%) of the lake for a minimum of 49 years 2b). Still only 39,8 ha is Lithuanian state land, but as long as the treaty lasts Lithuania is controlling 564,8 ha (34% of the lake). 

Two treaties between Lithuania and Russia went into force on 12 August 2003; one about the land border and another about the Baltic Sea border and Lake Vistytis lease.  By July 2011, eight years after the boundary was effective, it was still not demarcated.

The first six borderpoints of the LTRU State Border (unofficial translation) 2a)

Republic of Lithuania and the Russian Federation state border starts from the Republic of Lithuania, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland tripoint border (the state border sign no. 1987).

From the tripoint the Lithuanian-Russian state border line runs 0.6 km straight north - north-westerly direction to a point number 1, coordinates are X - 6028563; Y – 4616421.

From the point number 1 the state border line for 1.5 km goes straight north-westerly in direction to point number. 2, whose coordinates are X - 6029669; Y – 4615418. This point is in the middle of a ditch at the forrest.

From the point number 2 the border follows the middle of the ditch in north-westerly direction to a point number 3, which is on the Lake Vištytis (Vištyneckoje) shore, where the ditch goes out to the lake shore, 0.9 km to the east of the hill with the tag "210.7" and 0.8 km to the north-west of the hill with the tag "230.1", which is on Russian Federation territory.

From the point number 3 the state border line runs straight a distance of 6.5 km in north - north-west direction through Lake Vištytis (Vištyneckoje) to the point number 4, which is 1.3 km south of the road Vištytis-Virbalis and the Vištytis-Marivilė (Marivil) junction and the coordinates of  X - 6036738; Y – 4612776.

From the point number 4 the border line runs straight 2.5 km in north-westerly direction to a point number 5, which is on the shore of Lake Vištytis (Vištyneckoje), 0.15 km to the north-east of the bridge over the River Pisa and 0.1 km southwest from the nearest Vištytis town street juction.

From the point number 5 the border line for 0.08 km runs straight in north-west direction, further straight in north - north-easterly direction for 0.28 km to a trench, further in the middle of the ditch in a northerly direction along the eastern edge of the forest, near the geodetic marks with tags "208.2" and "143.0" to the intersection of the ditch and River Liepona, which makes point number 6.

Sources, literature and links

1. Germany and Lithuania - Treaty regarding the Settlement of Frontier Question, with Final Protocol. Signed at Berlin, January 29, 1928 [1929] LNTSer 108; 89 LNTS 97 

2a. Lithuania and Russia - Border Treaty "Lietuvos Respublikos ir Rusijos Federacijos sutartis "Dėl Lietuvos ir Rusijos valstybės sienos", signed 24 Oct 1997 in Moscow, effective from 12 Aug 2003 (Lithuanian language only).

2b. Note No. 566/97 from the Foreign Ministry of Lithuania and note no 8177/2E from the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation on leasing of a 525 ha part of Lake Vištytis for a minimum period of 49 years, signed in Vilnius and Moscow on 24 Oct 1997, effective from 12 Aug 2003 (Lithuanian language only).

3. Lietuvos sienos: tūkstantmečio istorija (editors: Zenonas Kumetaitis, Česlovas Laurinavičius, Zita Medišauskienė, Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė). - V.: „Baltų lankų“ leidyba, 2009. - 177 p.: iliustr. - ISBN 978-9955-23-318-3

4 Gintautas Surgailis: Valstybės sienos apsauga 1990-1994 metais, Vilnius 2008 (p. 130) - (Lithuanian language only)

5. Vištytis Homepage (Lithuanian language only)

6. Vilius Kočiubaitis' collection of Vištytis Maps (Lithuanian language only)

7. Hr. Ewald Beyer's Kornberg (Kallweitschen) (German language only)

8. Article "Buldozeris atvėrė kelią į Tėvynę" in the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos rytas, 4 Feb 2004, about the consequencies the boundary changes had for the local inhabitans on both sides of the borders. (Lithuanian language only)

This page was last time updated on 11.11.12