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The House of Signatories, the building where the Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed in 1918, served as a suitable backdrop just the right background for a new book about the life of Stasys Lozoraitis, a Lithuanian diplomat, and his wife Daniela.
Stasys Lozoraitis with Daniela D'Ercole.  Phots Lithuanian Embassy Washington, DC
Stasys Lozoraitis with Daniela D'Ercole. Phots Lithuanian Embassy Washington, DC

They are probably one of the most prominent couples in the recent history of Lithuania. Stasys Lozoraitis was dedicated his entire life to keeping the hope of Lithuanian independence alive. His life as a diplomat in exile during the nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation, and as a candidate during the first post-Soviet presidential election, have made him a legend in modern Lithuanian history.

'Gyvenimas – Lietuva. Daniela ir Stasys Lozoraičiai' (Life - Lithuania. Daniela and Stasys Lozoraitis) is written in Lithuanian by Professor Asta Petraitytė-Briedienė. An authority on the history of Stasys Lozoraitis, Professor Petraitytė-Briedienė already published a book about Lozoraitis' diplomatic work several years ago.

Leading the introduction during the book launch was former Lithuanian Ambassador to Italy Petras Zapolskas and former Lithuanian Ambassador to the USA Žygimantas Pavilionis. Cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis, who knew the Lozoraitis family when they were living in Roma, also participated in the presentation.

Professor Petraitytė-Briedienė researched for her book in Italy and the USA. The book goes well beyond an academic treatise and is a pleasant read. It is richly illustrated with photographs, including those from family archives that have not been seen before. There are also several pictures of their house in Rome.

Professor Asta Petraitytė-Briedienė.   Photo Ludo Segers
Professor Asta Petraitytė-Briedienė. Photo Ludo Segers

First-hand accounts of people who worked in Washington with Lozoraitis and a diary that Daniela D'Ercole-Lozoraitis kept are central part of the book. Mrs. D'Ercole-Lozoraitis started writing the diary on the eve of the couple's first trip to Lithuania, following the country's regaining of independence and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Lozoraitis had spent most of his early life abroad, nearly 40 years of those in exile in Italy. It was there that he met elegant and graceful Daniela D'Ercole. Daniela went on to support her husband in his endeavours of keeping Lithuania in the news and minds of those supporting the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania and successfully lobbying the USA government to keep the country in the focus of attention.

The book provides an excellent overview of the world in which Stasys Lozoraitis grew up, him meeting his wife Daniela, and the couple's life as diplomats in Washington and Rome. It gives an eye account of Mr. Lozoraitis running as a candidate in the first presidential election of the newly independent country in 1992 and its first real experience with democracy. The book also gives some insight into Lozoraitis' fall from grace in the aftermath of these elections, seeing him posted back to Rome. That posting to Rome was seen by many as political intervention into diplomatic affairs.

A biography about Stasys Lozoraitis in English was published in this newspaper almost two years ago. It is largely based on the work of Professor Asta Petraitytė-Briedienė.

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