Dovas Zaunius (senior)

Dovas Zaunius (1845–1921) was a Prussian Lithuanian cultural and political activist.


Dovas Zaunius
Born(1845-01-26)26 January 1845
An Rokaiten, East Prussia, German Empire (today Kamskoye, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia)[a]
Died25 June 1921(1921-06-25) (aged 76)
An Rokaiten, Weimar Republic
NationalityPrussian Lithuanian
Known forPolitical and cultural activism
ChildrenDovas Zaunius

Zaunius received only primary education[2] and earned a living off his 37 hectares (91 acres) farm in An Rokaiten.[a][3] He supported publication of Lithuanian books and their smuggling across the Prussian–Russian border.[2] Lithuanian-language books printed in the Latin alphabet were banned in Lithuania which was then part of the Russian Empire (see Lithuanian press ban). His farm welcomed various Lithuanian activists who were persecuted by the Tsarist authorities for violations of the ban or other political activities.[2] Linguist Georg Sauerwein lived on the farm for a year and composed the poem Lietuvininkai we are born.[4]

Between 1887 and 1903, Zaunius was elected as chairman of the Birutė Society several times. However, his tenure marked periods of low activity and the society came close to being liquidated in 1903.[5] In 1900, Zaunius and his daughter Morta were entrusted with managing the budget for the Lithuanian exposition at the world's fair in Paris.[6] He also managed the budget of the Lithuanian newspaper Varpas from 1900 to 1905.[2] Zaunius also organized a library at his farm. It sought to collect all Lithuanian publications. Some of this collection was donated to the Lithuanian Scientific Society in Vilnius, the rest was lost during World War II.[2]

In 1890, together with Martynas Jankus, Jonas Smalakys, and others, Zaunius established the first of the Lithuanian Conservative Election Societies.[2] The goal of such societies was to elect Prussian Lithuanians to the German Reichstag and Prussian Landtag. When the society broke up based on the electoral districts, Zaunius chaired the Tilsit–Elchniederung section.[3] He unsuccessfully ran in the Reichstag elections three times.[7] In 1892 and 1900, he was involved with the collection of signatures for petitions to the Prussian Ministers of Education asking to leave the Lithuanian language in primary schools.[8]


Zaunius had nine children (three sons, six daughters), all of them received a good education and some of them became prominent figures:[4]


  1. ^ a b The village was known as An Rokaiten in German and Rokaičiai in Lithuanian. It was renamed to Kleinrokitten or Klein Rokitten in 1938 and to Kamskoye (Russian: Камское) in 1946. It is located about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) west of Slavsk.[1]


  1. ^ Lazdynas, Rimantas. "Rokaičiai". Enciklopedija Lietuvai ir pasauliui (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kaunas, Domas; Kšanienė, Daiva (2009). "Zaunius, Dovas". In Bagdonavičius, Vaclovas; et al. (eds.). Mažosios Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). 4. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. pp. 818–819. ISBN 978-5-420-01470-7.
  3. ^ a b Kaukas, Kostas (1 March 2007). "Nudžiūvusį kamieną gaivinančios atžalos" (in Lithuanian). Klaipėda. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b Bagdonavičius, Vaclovas; et al., eds. (2009). "Zauniai". Mažosios Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). 4. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. p. 818. ISBN 978-5-420-01470-7.
  5. ^ Bagdonavičius, Vaclovas (2000). "Birutė". In Bagdonavičius, Vaclovas; et al. (eds.). Mažosios Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). I. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. pp. 177–179. ISBN 5-420-01471-8.
  6. ^ Čiplytė, Joana Viga (19 January 2015). "Lietuva pasaulinėje Paryžiaus parodoje 1900 m." (in Lithuanian). Respublika. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  7. ^ Gaigalaitė, Aldona (2017-04-12). "Ministras iš šaunios Zaunių šeimos" (in Lithuanian). Panevėžio miesto savivaldybės viešoji biblioteka. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  8. ^ Narbutas, Martynas (1970–1978). "Zaunius, Dovas". In Sužiedėlis, Simas (ed.). Encyclopedia Lituanica. VI. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. p. 301. LCC 74-114275.
  9. ^ Bagdonavičius, Vaclovas; et al., eds. (2009). "Zauniūtė, Augustė". Mažosios Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). 4. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. p. 820. ISBN 978-5-420-01470-7.