Dalia Kuodytė. Lithuanian Freedom Army and its meaning for post-war resistance

The beginning of the organization of Lithuanian Freedom Army (Lietuvos Laisves Armija; LLA) was in December, 1941, when the 1st headquarters were established in Vilnius on Kazys Veverskis initiative.

This organization and its meaning was estimated very contradictorily here in Lithuania as well as abroad -because of the lack of archives data and of political engagement.

The development of LLA as of military-political organization was influenced by objective and subjective reasons. It must be pointed out that LLA first of all was military organization which preferred to restore the independence in armed way. The history of LLA can be divided into 2 periods; 1) the end of 1941 - July, 1944 (activities during Nazi occupation); 2) July, 1944 -spring of 1946 (activities during the 2nd Soviet occupation).

In 1942, the structure of LLA was still quite simple. The functions of the headquarters of all levels were not reglamented clearly. At the beginning of 1943, district headquarters consisted of 3 departments: reconnaissance, organization and economy. Such a structure (plus social department) have not changed till the end. At the same time, attempts to improve organization's structure were made. 4 districts (Vilnius - led by K.Veverskis-Senis; Kaunas -led by J.Liorentas and B.Svilas; Šiauliai - led by A.Eidimtas; and Panevėžys - led by V.Sakalas-Sakalauskas) were established in 1943. Teisiai district was established later, and its leader Ipolitas Zulys after some time had become KGB agent Some of these people retreated West later, and the leader of LLA K.Veverskis-Senis was killed on December 29,1944. The same year, LLA was divided into 2 sections: OS (organization section) and VS (acting section, called "the Hawks" - "Vanagai"). OS took care of reconnaissance, provision etc., and VS consisted of partizans' units which functionated as regular armed forces.

Committee for the Defence of Lithuania (Lietuvos Gynimo Komitetas; LGK) was established by M.Peciulionis, K.Veverskis and Snarskis in August,

1944. LQK had declared the leadership under all the political and military forces of Lithuania. With the permission of the leaders of LGK, some leaders of LLA entered into relations with Germans: Lithuanian fighters had to get more arms. Besides, according to M.Peciulionis, over 100 LLA fighters were sent to German reconnaissance schools. This fact have been estimated especially contradictorily. The leaders of LLA were charged with the collaboration with Nazi Let us point out that it was just a military-tactical stratagem: the interests of one enemy were used against the other.

One of the main questions of post-war Lithuania was: how to resist - as in the case of anti-Mazi resistance or in a different, armed, way? The problem of tactics was not solved and discussions about the ways and methods of the fight lasted all the decade of active resistance. It is difficult to say which way is better to lay down the arms trying to preserve the potential of the nation or to resist with honor even if the state is already lost. The later experience had shown that it was possible to resist and to avoid the influence of KGB only if and when military and underground ways of the fight were co-ordinated reasonably.

Algis Kašėta. The volume of the anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania in 1944-1953

The statistics of the registered partizans

Lithuanian partizan movement had begun in the autumn of 1944 and reached its peak in the spring of 1945. There were at least 30.000 freedom fighters in the forests of Lithuania that year. Soviet power was unable to suppress this fight by the means of repressions so it announced the perfidious amnesty. The minister of Inner affairs of Lithuanian SSR J.Bartasiunas had announced the appeal to those who lived illegally on May 25, 1945. Partizans were invited to break the relations with the armed underground and to legalize themselves. Soon after that, on July 7,1945, the next amnesty for those, who tried to avoid the military service in Soviet army or had deserted from it, followed. At the same time, the repressions grew stronger. Partizans' families were terrorized and deported to Siberia. 1204 families (4479 people) were deported to Siberia from Lithuania to November 1,1945. Especially large numbers of partizans were killed. For example, 31 of 183 partizans of Merkine battalion (17%) were killed from May to August, 1945. Some units had lost even more fighters. Those repressions forced partizans to make their decision. There were less reasons to avoid the military service after the end of the war. There were no military conflicts between the Soviets and Western states. The question of Lithuania's freedom was not solved at Potsdam conference in the summer of 1945. Hopes of the quick restoration of Lithuania's independence were lost Many partizans wanted to preserve their families from the deportations to Siberia. At last, they were tired of permanent persecutions. So partizans had begun to legalize themselves. Over 33.000 people were legalized from June 1,1945, to the end of the year. 26 thousand of them were registered as those who avoided the military service; 25 thousand - as the deserters and just approximately 5 thousands had confessed that they took part in the armed underground movemenL There is no doubt that many partizans registered themselves as the people of the other categories, being afraid of the possible cruel repressions.

The registration had come to an end for many reasons. The experience had shown that Soviet power never keeps its promises. Registered partizans were forced to collaborate with Soviet security service, to betray former brothers in arms and supporters. Those who had refused were arrested so many people who had legalized themselves returned back to forest. According to MGB data, 385 thousand people had legalized themselves from 1944 to 1952. Most of them were arrested or deported. There were only 8.936 registered partizans in Lithuania at the beginning of 1952. That means that almost 30 thousand (i.e. 80%) people who had legalized themselves had disappeared from public life again from 1945 to 1952. Unfortunately, we do not know how many people were arrested or deported and how many them returned to the units of partizans again. Satanic perfidy of Soviet occupants was demonstrated once more. Their Bolshevik "favor" caused deportations, sufferings and death in concentration camps for Lithuanian people.

Juozas Starkauskas. The certificate about Lukiskes prison

There is such a certificate in the operation investigation file Ho. 281 of

the 1st (reconnaissance) department of KGB. This certificate was given to agent-shocker Rudolf Otting-Kirvis-Balandis (see LKA No.13). He was prepared to be sent abroad in 1953-1956. MGB created for him a false biography and gave him, among others, the certificate about the routine and supervision conditions of prisoners in prison No.l of MVD of Lithuanian SSR in 1947.

An ideal routine reglamented by various instructions is described in this certificate. But prisoners' life, investigation methods, MGB behavior with the prisoners is not described. The document says nothing about the violence and humiliation, also about night investigations. They must be described like a symbol of dirty deeds made in the dark. Night investigations were also a kind of cruel fortune the prisoner was not allowed to sleep all the day, and he or she had to participate in 2 night investigations. After two weeks people usually used to lose the sense of reality and could sign under any confessions.

The certificate says nothing about the relations of prisoners: communication in More alphabet etc. The certificate is also wrong on many subjects. Usually every valuable thing was simply stolen from the prisoners. They could not buy anything in the prison store, because their relatives did not know where they were and could not send any money. The doctor mentioned in the certificate could not prescribe any good medicine etc. So the former political prisoners could fill up this document, and people who succeeded to avoid MGB arrests and investigations can get some interesting information from this short certificate.

Now let us study the main articles of above mentioned document. It says that arrested people are brought to prison by the cargo-carrying car. At the prison after the identification they are searched carefully and examined by a doctor. After the search valuable things and money are taken away, and a receipt for them is given to prisoner. Now the prisoners must have a bath and spend a quarantine period (3-20 days) in a separate quarantine cell. After the quarantine they are transferred to the investigation-prisoners’ cell. They are equal: 8x2m (2,5 m height) each. There is a little table, plank-beds, two cabinets, barrel with the water and lavatory in every cell. The cell is fitted for 4 people, but there are usually 5-8 prisoners in it.

On a third day, sometimes later, the prisoner is photographed and finger-prints are taken.

The investigations building is separate. The prisoner goes there just with the special jailer, who tries to avoid the meetings with another jailers and prisoners on their way. When the period of investigation is over, prisoner is informed about it 7-10 days before the trial he must sign a bill of indictment. After the trial a prisoner is transferred to the larger (25-30 sq.m.) convicts’ cell, and there are to 30 people in it

The routine of this prison is such; prisoners wake up at 6.00 a.m. and go to bed at 11 p.m. They can not lie in bed trough the day. In the morning, they must tidy up a cell and go to a toilet After that prisoners have a breakfast, at 2 p.m. - dinner, and at 9 p.m - supper. Every day the prisoners (cell by cell) must walk for 30 minutes in the special yard. Every 10th day they have a bath, also cell by cell.

Chief warder and assistant jailers must visit all the cells 1-2 times a month. Prisoners can ask them questions and make the complaints. The doctor must examine all the prisoners every third day and, if there is a need to, to transfer those who are ill to hospital There is also the librarian, who never enteres the cell. He or usually she just takes an order and gives the book through the little window in the cell's door. There is another little window in each door -just a small hole with the safety glass. The supervisor often watches prisoners through it and every place in the cell is clearly seen to him (jailers watch prisoners even and especially in the toilet) so prisoners can not do anything forbidden.

Juozas Starkauskas. Some features of the activities of general Vetrov division in 1950

Soviet historiography always tried to convince that the post-war period fights were just a class struggle. It is clear now that it was a real civil war which continued for almost ten years (from 1944 to 1953). Let us one more time try to explain who fought against Lithuanian partizans.

There are just a few files connected with the direct executors of repressions against partizans in the former KGB archives, but it is possible to make some general conclusions based on this information.

The structure of MGB (from 1954 - KGB) was complicated many departments, boards, reconnaissance, "istrebiteli" ("destroyers"), border and inner troops etc. Main fighters against the partizans were two (2nd and 4th) divisions of inner troops of MGB. The 4th, so-called general Vetrov division was transferred to Lithuania from North Caucasus and Crimea in 1944. It was especially cruel: burnt some Dzūkija villages, killed people on Christmas of 1944. The 2nd division was established at the begining of 1949 when the 4th division was divided into 2 parts.

The structure of each MGB division was equal. The division consisted of 4 regiments, each regiment - of 3 battalions, each battalion - of 3 companies. There were 4,5 thousand soldiers in the lists of 4th division and 4,4 thousand more - in the lists of 2nd division in 1950. There were approximately 1000 soldiers in each regiment, 250-270 soldiers in each battalion and approximately 70 soldiers in each company. Many soldiers worked at division, regiment, battalion headquarters. Each battalion "took care" of 2-5 regions. Troops were transferred from one place to another very often. The leaders of the 4th division had established 9 temporary garrisons (10-20 soldiers in each) at the end of 1950.

MGB soldiers lived almost as prisoners. They were short of food and clothes, they could walk away from the barracks very seldom. Sometimes they had to walk 30 km a day with the full equipment. By the means of hard work and intensive political training MGB tried to turn its soldiers into professional killers. The words "honour to kill" can be found in some documents. The soldier used to get a message of thanks plus the tax of 150 roubles for each killed partizan.

MGB executives used to get an information about partizans mostly from agents and arrested partizans. If that information was urgent, the unit of MGB troops was prepared in an hour. Thousands of soldiers took part in military operations against the partizans in 1945-1947, and just 200-400 of them took part in separate operations in 1950. Partizans sometimes gathered in groups of 20-30 people, but usually 2-5 partizans travelled and lived in the bunker. When the place of the bunker was not known exactly, the troops used to "comb" the entire forests. Little groups of soldiers spied upon the partizans and attacked them from the ambushes.

In 1944-1945, MGB called partizans "the rebels", later -only "the bandits". MGB had much more troops and equipment, besides, MGB soldiers acted without any rules in the war against them. Partizans who were grown up in the spirit of Christianity and believed in honour and decency were stunned by their cruelty. Partizans and MGB both learned to fight during those years of war. New brave young men took place of killed or arrested partizans and continued to fight. According to MGB data, over 200 men joined the partizans even in 1951. MGB called them "professional bandits" and pointed out that they "will not surrender". And they did not. Most partizans preferred to die instead of tortures and possible betrayal. Usually they were killed or committed a suicide at the bunkers surrounded by MGB soldiers. Our partizans always had a vision of Independent Lithuania. Their goal was not achieved then because of historical circumstances. But their sacrifice opened the way to Independence for us.