Distribution of the Banned Lithuanian Press in Čekiškė Region

  • Inga Stepukonienė
Keywords: book smugglers, banned Lithuanian press, Čekiškė


Although in the second half of the nineteenth century a multicultural environment prevailed in the town of Čekiškė, the banned Lithuanian press was actively distributed there. The Lithuanians living in the nearby villages bought forbidden Lithuanian publications, which were distributed by book smugglers. Initially, Lithuanian prayer books and ABC primers were distributed in town markets, and later the first Lithuanian newspapers, Aušra and Varpas, other publications, and literature. Local residents were actively engaged in it. In addition, some quite active people would sell small religious paraphernalia near churches. The book smugglers from Čekiškė and its environs brought the Lithuanian press mainly from Prussia, where they often travelled together with the book smugglers of Ariogala and Vilkija regions. Press distributors maintained close contact with the priests of their town and of the said regions. Having graduated from the seminaries of Seinai or Kaunas, the priests who worked in Čekiškė and Ariogala became not only zealous supporters of the banned Lithuanian press, but also its distributors. Many of them suffered repression and were constantly transferred from one parish to another. Ieva Ivanauskienė and Mykolas Račkus, who distributed the banned Lithuanian press until the lift of its ban and even later, were the most zealous book smugglers of Čekiškė. People of great courage and ingenuity and capable of acting even in the most difficult circumstances, they bravely joined the book smugglers of this region. Povilas Višinskis, a publicist, writer, and cultural figure, who lived in the vicinity of Čekiškė for some time, devoted considerable efforts to creating and publishing Lithuanian publications. Thus, the people of Čekiškė region helped to bring about an important event – the lifting of the ban on the Lithuanian press – on 7 May 1904.