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Wilhelm Storost, artistic name Vilius Storostas-Vydūnas (22 March 1868 – 20 February 1953), mostly known as Vydūnas, was a Prussian-Lithuanian teacher, poet, humanist, philosopher and Lithuanian
writer, a leader of the Prussian Lithuanian national movement in Lithuania Minor, and one of leaders of the theosophical movement in East Prussia.
The Storost family was a long-established family in East Prussia and Wilhelm was born in the village of Jonaten (Lithuanian: Jonaičiai), near Heydekrug, in the Kingdom of Prussia. Wilhelm Storost was the name on his German passport, while Vilimas or Vilius Storostas was the literature Lithuanian form used by himself, his family, and other Lithuanians. “Vydūnas” was added to his surname as a pseudonym when he was about 40 years old. Storost was married to Klara Füllhase.
Storost was educated as teacher at the Präparandenanstalt in Pillkallen (lit. Pilkalnis) (1883–85) and at teacher seminar in Ragnit (lit. Ragainė) (1885–88). From 1888 to 1892 he was a teacher in Kinten (lit. Kintai), when he went to teach at a boys school in Tilsit (lit. Tilžė) until 1912 and taught German, French, English, Lithuanian and sports. In 1912 he left his teaching position in order to take up philosophical studies, which he took at the universities of Greifswald, Halle, Leipzig and Berlin. 1918/19 he taught Lithuanian at the Seminar for Oriental Languages in Berlin under the director Eduard Sachau. Back in Tilsit he dedicated himself to reestablishment of Lithuanian Culture, especially folks songs and rural traditions. He directed a choir and wrote songs as well as theater plays. From 1933 on he worked in Memel at the music school.
1932 he published the book Sieben Hundert Jahren Deutsch-Litauischer Beziehung (Seven Hundred Years of German-Lithuanian relations) focusing on German trade, military and religious colonization and genocide of Old Prussians. The book did not please the Nazis and in 1933 was outlawed. 1938 he was shortly incarcerated, but because of protests released after two months.
Together with nearly all of the people of East Prussia he was expelled during the Soviet take-over and lived in a refugee camp for some time. He died in Detmold, West Germany. His grand nephew Jürgen Storost recently explained that Wilhelm Storost’s answered his friend Viktor Falkenhahn, that “his use of the pen name Vydūnas was his chosen anthroposophic mission; that he did not want to be a “pavydūnas”, but a “vydūnas” (one who wishes everyone everything good).
Vydūnas was active in the old Lithuanian religion (see Romuva). However, he did not declare the revival of the pagan religion as either his personal goal or a goal of Lithuanians, remaining a national leader but not a religious one. His moral influence transcended the confines of being a typical political leader or a writer at his time. He was compared by later biographers with national leaders in India of his time, such as Rabindranath Tagore or Mahatma Gandhi. Pantheistic universalism, not predefined with participating in any obligatory religious practice, was one of the leading ideas of his philosophy, and gained him later fame as a pioneer of both pagan revival and theosophy in Lithuania.
Vydūnas was an ethical vegetarian and wrote several essays about his ethical choices.
Vydūnas was nominated for the Nobel Prize by the Lithuanian Writers Association.
- Purvinas, Martynas (24 October 2016). “Vydūnas, Bitėnų kapinės ir Lietuva 1991-aisiais metais”. Voruta (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 3 August 2019.
- “Lietuvininkas Vydūnas” Dr. Algirdas Matulevičius (1993). “Vydūnas – Mažosios Lietuvos istorikas” (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2007.
- Welters, Linda (1999). Folk Dress in Europe and Anatolia: Beliefs About Protection and Fertility. Berg Publishers. p. 214. ISBN 1-85973-287-9.
Lithuanian philosopher Vydunas
- Prof. Kšanienė, Daiva (9 October 2003). “Vydūnas”. Voruta (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
- Bradūnas, Kazys (1979). “A conversation with Tomas Venclova”. Lituanus. 25 (3). Retrieved 16 October 2007.
- “Auf den Spuren von Vydunas” (in German). detmold.de. 4 April 2018.
- “Žymių žmonių pasisakymai apie gyvūnų išnaudojimą”. Animal Rights Lithuania. Archived from the original on 12 March 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2008. (in Lithuanian)
- Genys, Arvydas (2000). “Laisvės ir literatūros hipostazės”. Mokslo Lietuva (4). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
- Ernst Bahr, Kurt Forstreuter, Altpreussische Biographie. Bd. 2., Lfg. 6. (Steffeck – Vydunas), Elwert: Marburg 1956, p. 764
- Vydûnas’ Vater. Zu Herkunft und Elternhaus des bedeutenden preußisch-litauischen Schriftstellers Wilhelm Storost-Vydûnas, Teil 1. In: Ostdeutsche Familienkunde, Band 12, 39. Jahrgang, Heft 3, Verlag Degener: July–September 1991, pp. 385–392.
- Vydûnas’ Vater. Zu Herkunft und Elternhaus des bedeutenden preußisch-litauischen Schriftstellers Wilhelm Storost-Vydûnas, Teil 2. In: Ostdeutsche Familienkunde, Band 12, 39. Jahrgang, Heft 4, Verlag Degener: October–December 1991, pp. 427–434. (Family origin of Storost-Vydunas)
- J.Storost:Vydunas in seinen letzten Lebensjahren, Ostdeutsche Familienkunde – Zeitschrift für Familiengeschichtsforschung, Band XIII – 41. Jg., Verlag Degener 1993, pp. 161–169, 193–196. (letters & documents)