Evolution of Science and Technology / Mokslo ir technikos raida, Vol 3, No 1 (2011)

Juozas Eretas (Joseph Ehret) and His Work for Lithuania

Aldona Vasiliauskienė


Juozas Eretas (Joseph Ehret) (18 October 1896 – 13 March 1984) was an eminent scholar of Lithuania and Switzerland as well as a doctor of Philosophy. He arrived in Lithuania in autumn 1919 under an obligation to his dying Lithuanian friend Mykolas Ašmys who had asked him to do something for him in Lithuania. In 1920, he initiated the establishment of the ELTA (the Lithuanian Agency of Telegrams of Eretas). Once he received the Lithuanian citizenship, he accomplished valuable work aimed at the strengthening of the state of Lithuania.
J. Eretas voluntarily joined the Lithuanian military service (1920); This act encouraged Lithuanian intelligentsia to follow in his footsteps.
The contribution of professor Eretas to the foundation of the University of Lithuania (named after Vytautas Magnus in 1930) is remarkable. He was appointed to a professorship of the university and performed his professorial duties during 1922–1940 (with an interval from 1931–1932 when he was dismissed from the office). Eretas was one of the founders of the Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Science (LKMA). When the Catholic Academy was established in 1922, he became its active member. He presented papers at its conferences, edited the I-III volumes of the transactions of the LKMA Conferences. At the Second Conference of the LKMA (1936), he was elected academician and became honorary member while in emigration (1975).
Eretas was a literary historian and an author of numerous important writings such as “Bethoven’s youth” (1927), “Henrich Seuse” (1929), “Meister Eckehart” (1930), “Jonas Tauleris” (1930). He was the first to offer a comprehensive and thorough presentation of German literature in Lithuanian: “The history of German literature” (1931, Vol. I), “Young Goethe” (1933) and others. He was known as a brilliant publicist for his prolific publications in the press and his editorials to the “XX amžius” (The 20th Century) weekly on the outbreak of the war in Spain, signed by the pen-name “Hispanus”. Eretas was a well-known founder and editor of newspapers (for temperance, sport and the Catholic rural youth). Back in Switzerland, he was elected honorary member of the Lithuanian writers’ Union (USA).
The public activity of Eretas was just as outstanding. He headed the Catholic rural youth union “Pavasaris” (Spring) (1922–1928), in 1928, he was elected as its honorary president. He was one of the founders of the “Pavasaris” folk university (1925) and the patron of the literary association “Šatrija” for the students of the ateitininkai movement.
Much worthy work was done by him in the fields of temperance and sports. He was among the founders of the Gymnastics and Sports Federation of Lithuania (LGSF) (1922) and one of the organizers of the Sports League of Lithuania (1923).
Owing to the initiative of Eretas as well as his talent as an organizer, massive public events of pavasarininkai were held for the first time in Lithuania (Šiauliai, 1924; Kaunas, 1927). These events attracted thousands of young people.
Eretas was eager to serve Lithuania even after he was forced to emigrate. He was concerned about the fate of the Lithuanian emigrants and tackled their problems in his book “A trilogy of exile”: (“Exile – a curse or a task” (1963), “A Lithuanian of exile in the vortex of ideas” (1965) and “Exile as a phenomenon of history” (1965) and also “Minor nations and states (Their importance to Europe)” (1966). Eretas tirelessly argued for Lithuania’s freedom in his public lectures or articles published in the Western European magazines in foreign languages. Of great importance was his study about the forgotten Balts (1968), about the Baltic nations and their fate (1970) and about the Lithuanian language and its archaic wealth (1971). Eretas did a great service to the ateitininkai organization by writing monographs about Stasys Šalkauskis (1960) and Kazys Pakštas (1976). In 1980, he published a monograph “Valančius” light beyond the seas”, dedicated to Prel. Pranciškus Juras.

Article in Lithuanian

Article in: Lithuanian

Article published: 2011-06-30

Keyword(s): professor Juozas Eretas; Swiss; the founder of the ELTA (the Lithuanian agency of telegrams of Eretas); the first president of the ELTA; scientist; the leader of the pavasarininkai

DOI: 10.3846/est.2011.07

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Mokslo ir technikos raida - Evolution of Science and Technology ISSN 2029-2430 eISSN 2029-2449