It is compulsory and free school in Luxembourg for everyone from the age of 6 to the age of 15. The primary school is 6 years old, and German is the first language of instruction. Second grade in primary school comes French as well. In high school, French is the language of instruction. When the children are 12 years old, they have to choose whether they want to continue in secondary school (lycée), or whether they will follow a technical/ vocational direction (enseignement secondaire technique). The country has one-year university offers. Many young people study abroad.
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In 1926, Lithuania and the USSR entered into a non-attack pact, followed in 1934 by a friendship and cooperation agreement between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In 1938 relations with Poland became more tense as this demanded supremacy over Vilnius. The situation worsened further when a Nazi group came to power in Klaipéda – the only Lithuanian port out to the Baltic – and demanded that this city also be detached.
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In September 1939, a secret supplementary agreement to the German-Soviet non-attack pact placed Lithuania within the Soviet sphere of influence. The following month, the country was forced to conclude a mutual assistance agreement with the Soviet Union, which also gave the superpower the right to establish military and air bases in Lithuania. In 1940, Soviet troops occupied the country. Several of the local political leaders were detained and deported, while others fled to Western Europe.
Under the new Prime Minister, Justas Paleckis, Lithuania became a republic in the Soviet Union in August 1940. After the German occupation in 1941, the Baltic states were gathered in the German province of Ostland (see Estonia and Latvia).
During the German occupation, 190,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps, and 100,000 of Vilnius’s residents, a third of the total population – most Jews – were murdered. Known as “Jerusalem of Lithuania,” Vilnius has become one of the most important Jewish cultural centers in the world. Also among the country’s non-Jewish population, thousands were killed and tens of thousands of young people deported to Germany for forced labor.
Vilnius was captured by the Red Army in 1944, and the country was again occupied by the Soviet Union. About 20,000 Lithuanians managed to flee to Western Europe before intense Sovietization, forced agricultural collectivization and mass deportations of Lithuanians to Russia and Siberia.