VILNIUS, Lithuania — A copy of Lithuania’s 1918 Independence Act found in German archives has been returned to the Baltic country, but only on loan.

President Dalia Grybauskaite says “one of the most important national documents has reached us at the most appropriate time” ahead of the country’s centennial.

Grybauskaite received Wednesday the document — to be returned to Germany in 2023 — from German government archivist Elke von Boeselager.

A Lithuanian scholar last year discovered the missing document, which apparently was sent in 1918 to inform Germany that it could no longer control the territory that was occupied by German Empire troops. The original of the act was kept in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas but disappeared in 1940 when Soviet Russia occupied the country.

Lithuania was independent from 1918 to 1940, and regained its freedom in 1990.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.