External and Internal Communication of the Council of Lithuania (21 September 1917–11 November 1918)
The idea to investigate the communication of the Council of Lithuania first came up after analysing the process of the representation of the Council of Lithuania from 21 September 1917 to 11 November 1918 and realising that internal and external communication was closely intertwined and each was important in its own way. The analysis of the communication of the Council of Lithuania is important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to identify internal and external communication channels and to understand their role in establishing and maintaining close contacts with the local and foreign public; secondly, it provides an opportunity to see the actual scope of activities pursued by the Council of Lithuania and its Presidium, and, thirdly, it sheds light on the specificities of the functioning of the little-studied administrative apparatus of the Council of Lithuania. The aim of the study is to examine internal and external communication channels of the Council of Lithuania and to reveal the specificities of their functioning (21 September 1917–11 November 1918). To that end, the research made use of published (collections of documents, information in the press) and unpublished sources stored at the Lithuanian Central State Archives, the Manuscripts Department of the Wroblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, the Political Archive of the German Foreign Office, and studies by historians and legal historians. The research covers the chronological period from 21 September 1917 to 11 November 1918, i.e., from the election of the Council of Lithuania during the Vilnius Conference (18– 23 September 1917) to the formation of the Provisional Government of Lithuania. Methods of qualitative analysis and synthesis (the new material of the sources was supplemented with the information circulating in historiography), the comparative method (the facts from Lithuanian and German archives and the press are compared), the descriptive and inductive methods were employed. To process the primary sources in Lithuanian and German languages, the logical-analytical method (analysis of the notional content and information) was applied. The research revealed that external and internal communication of the Council of Lithuania was the responsibility of the Presidium of the Council of Lithuania. Its members organised and coordinated internal communication through the head of the Central Office. The members of the Council of Lithuania used to communicate among themselves and with the members of the Presidium and exchanged information at official plenary sessions, verbally and in writing, by phone and telegraph. In exceptional cases, authorised persons and delegations served as intermediaries. Most problems in internal communication used to arise from the failure to provide information in writing (copies of documents not prepared, forwarded, or delivered in time) and belated invitations to the plenary sittings during the sessions of the Council of Lithuania. The members of the Presidium and the heads of the commissions and administrative divisions of the Council of Lithuania used to communicate and exchange information verbally (at sittings and meetings) and in writing (through letters, documentation). All direct and indirect channels available at that time were utilised for the Council’s external communication with local and foreign public, Lithuanians abroad, and German civil and military administration: (1) direct channels include visits to the Secretariat of the Council of Lithuania during the publicly- announced reception hours established by the members of the Presidium and the members of the commissions of the Council of Lithuania, meetings of the members of the Council of Lithuania with Lithuanian residents, their organisations, and the representatives of the German Military Administration in Lithuania (Militärverwaltung Litauen), conferences abroad, reception of the delegates (authorised representatives) of Lithuanians living abroad or delegations; (2) indirect channels comprise newspapers (they used to print reception hours, minutes of sittings, and other important information), letters and telegrams, and special information publications (Bėgamosios Lietuvos Tarybos žinios).