After a brief historical introduction the paper deals with the impact of the first year of Soviet rule 1940–1941, the armed resistance of summer 1941 and the German occupation of 1941–1944. The focus is, however, the post-war period. Sovietisation, economic exploitation and the politics of repression and outright terror led to armed resistance. Most of those who were labelled as ‘forest brethren’ simply went into hiding to avoid possible arrest or mobilisation into the Soviet army. Only a minority actively participated in armed resistance. The paper discusses the connection between the progressive reconciliation of the population with the Soviet regime and the decline of resistance as well as the way in which hopes of Western intervention or the breakdown of the Soviet order in Estonia proved to be unfounded. The paper analyses Soviet strategies in the eventually successful fight against the partisans. These ranged from amnesties and the legalisation of the forest brethren to the deportation of potential supporters and the use of informers and assassins. In any event, the forced collectivisation of 1949 made it much harder for peasants to support the forest brethren.
The article deals with ideological settings, ways and means of establishing rules of mutual coexistence between the Red Army and the UPA. The main problem is the balance between the ideological setups of the parties and the pragmatic requirements of reality. Both sides were forced to balance between plans and past representations based on ideological foundations and, ultimately, to adjust their behavior under the influence of the realities of the situation. Transformation took place at two levels simultaneously: the institutional, expressed in the correction of officially defined tactics and personal, which manifested itself at the level of personal, often casual contacts between representatives of both parties. The chronological framework of the study covers the spring–summer period of 1944, and territorially Lviv and Ternopil regions. The choice of territorial and chronological boundaries is due to the understanding that the region was particularly important in administrative terms and became an arena of protracted battles, which provoked the Red Army continued occupation of in this area.
The end of the Second World War brought profound changes to the Yugoslavian political, economic and social systems and marked the beginning of communist rule, which lasted for 45 years. Certain individuals, organisations and social groups in all the nations of Yugoslavia displayed discontent with communist rule, for a range of reasons. Some were most concerned about personal and political liberty; some were unhappy with communist economic policies, the loss of their dominant economic position and the seizure of their private property and others were upset, rightly or wrongly, with the solution that had been found to the national question in restored communist Yugoslavia. Today, the public in all of Yugoslavia’s successor states – and also some academics – argue about and compete to prove who suffered the most during communism, very often turning serious issues and potentially fruitful debates into a circus that downplays and obstructs the very difficult and necessary process of re-examining the past. Serbia, the part of the country that was described by some of the leading communists of the time as Yugoslavia’s Vendée, due to its alleged allegiance to the Crown and the royalist cause, experienced heavy purges and oppressions, especially in the immediate post-war years of 1944 and 1945. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 people – active Nazi supporters and many alleged political, ideological and class enemies – were killed in Serbia by the communists during those two years. The exact number of people who were subjected to other forms of mistreatment in those years and afterwards is impossible to determine, but one can certainly speak of hundreds of thousands. Given that it is difficult for historians to capture the general mood of a nation in a certain historical period it would be wrong to claim that Serbs were predominantly anti-communist during the post-war years, but it would be correct to state that such sentiment existed and was very strong among certain people and within certain social groups. However, despite the very strong anti-communist mood, the opposition to the communists was weak, disorganised and mostly expressed at an individual level. Opponents of the communist regime generally decided to remain passive. There were no armed actions, except by small groups of bandits, usually members of royalist (Chetnik) forces who refused to surrender and failed to escape from the country. There are several explanations of this lack of action but the most important is the fact that armed action against the communists had already taken place during the Second World War and that the communists had won. The armed resistance of the post-war period can be seen as the dying embers of the civil war that was effectively over by the end of 1944. Facing severe oppression from the new communist regime and with no hope of outside help due to the wider geopolitical situation, any armed opposition seemed doomed from the outset. However, there is another issue regarding anti-communist resistance in Serbia that can be regarded as very important and which this chapter will examine more thoroughly. The perception of the communists and their actions by two of the largest and most important Serbian social groups – the peasantry and the urban elite – was fluid, shifting during and after the war depending upon the actions of the communists and in line with both the changing context mentioned above and the willingness of the communists to accept these social groups and to include them as part of the newly established system.
The years after 1945 in Hungary were characterised by indifference and passivity towards the communist system rather than any strong expression of collectively organised and armed resistance. A review of the history of the country and its political culture shows that revolts never primarily started for internal reasons. Rebellions involving mass popular movements were always triggered from outside, as exemplified by 1848, 1918, 1919, 1956 and 1989, years in which Hungarians were not the only ones to rebel. Hence, the Hungarian tradition of opposition involved not active and armed resistance but political opposition and the passive removal of support from the rulers and the state. The rural masses, who made up more than 50% of the population, could not be mobilised for political goals. Even after 1948/49 and the imposition of new norms, nationalisation and collectivisation there was no active armed and violent resistance. Even the sporadic, minor acts of sabotage and civil disobedience did not lead to the overthrow of the Communist regime and were more the actions of people concerned with survival and their very existence. According to James C. Scott, such self-protective responses to the actions of the Communist dictatorship in the early 1950s were expressed by the rural population and workers through various forms of “everyday resistance” that were recorded in the files of the state security service under the generic term “sabotage”. The Hungarian justice system passed roughly 400,000 “administrative sentences”, while the “people’s tribunals” recorded a further 24,000 guilty verdicts prior to 1956. At all events, the Communist dictatorship gradually eliminated all possible leaders of any active resistance, forcing into exile or imprisoning all potential candidates from the opposition parties or the church. The political and economic elite of the years before 1945 had successively been replaced and disempowered. However, with the reform course that he set between 1953 and 1955, the convinced Communist Imre Nagy personified a sense of hope for broad sections of the population. With regards to social cohesion in Hungary in the late 1940s and early 1950s, society was fragmented and there was no strong sense of solidarity. Due to the ‘roll-back’ propaganda of the Eisenhower/Dulles administration in the US that was broadcast by Radio Free Europe, people in Budapest then started an uprising, which also involved the use of violence. Between 2,500 and 3,000 were killed and roughly 13,000 injured during the fighting in autumn 1956. This was a rebellion by workers and young people and around 2,600 victims were under 30. Roughly 20,000 prison sentences were passed and 230 executions carried out. The majority of the disaffected – about 200,000 people, many of whom were young workers – chose the path of passive resistance and emigrated. The belief that the Communist dictatorship could be forced to change ended with the suppression of the uprising in the autumn of 1956.
After initially remaining neutral and refusing to participate in the military conflict that had broken out in Europe, in March 1941 the Kingdom of Bulgaria entered the Second World War on the side of the Axis Powers. In the course of the military operations, the Bulgarian state established its own administration in Vardar Macedonia and Aegean Thrace. On 4 September 1944, the Kingdom of Bulgaria terminated its alliance with Nazi Germany and began to disarm the German troops on Bulgarian territory. On 5 September, the Soviet Union declared war on the Kingdom of Bulgaria, after which units of the Red Army’s 3rd Ukrainian Front entered Northeastern and Southeastern Bulgaria. On 9 September 1944, a coup d’état brought to power the Fatherland Front, a communist-dominated coalition. The following years saw the establishment of a totalitarian regime governed by the Bulgarian Communist Party, based on the class-party principle and accompanied by a repressive model characteristic of the whole period of socialism (1944–1989).
The article deals with several main topics related to armed resistance against the communist regime in Bulgaria (1944–1956). More than 3,000 goryani and over 10,000 helpers of theirs took part in the conflict against a vastly superior opponent. The article offers a detailed review of the domestic and foreign political factors that provoked the armed conflict. A series of examples are used to illustrate the characteristics of the two belligerent parties. The composition, structure, number and tactics of the participants in the armed resistance are described, as well as the means employed by the state institutions to fight against “political banditry”.
This article is the first to present the history of the Partisan War in Lithuania between 1944 and 1953 from the point of view of the underground state, the united political and military organisation of the partisans.
The Lithuanian Liberation Army (Lith. LAA) was established on the basis of hierarchical, territorial and functional principles adopted from the Lithuanian Army and adapted to new forms of action. The political programme of the partisans emerged from the establishment and the later activities of the United Democratic Resistance Movement (Lith. BDPS). Declaration No.2 of the BDPS Presidium of June 1947 was drafted by Alfonsas Vabalas, Doctor of Law, and formed the basis of the political declaration of the Council of the Movement for the Struggle for Lithuanian Freedom (Lith. LLKS), which was signed on 16th February 1949. A comparison of the organisation of the BDPS and the LLKS shows that while names were different the structures were very similar.
The Supreme Leadership of the LLKS represented three regions, Western, Eastern and Southern Lithuania, and basically performed the duties of the Seimas and the Government. This underground state was characterised and legitimised by the partisans’ right to rule, codes, social approach, military organisation and local support, financial system, network of contacts, underground press and diplomacy.
While communication difficulties made it harder for the LLKS to carry out its activities these did not stop. Disaster struck on the night of the 8th December 1951 when Žemaitis, the Chairman of the Presidium of the LLKS Council, who was also known as the President by both the partisans and the Security Agency, was paralysed by a stroke. On 30th January 1953, Žemaitis wrote in an official document with his own hand: “Today I ceased discharging my duties due to illness” and instructed Antanas Bakšys, the Secretary of the Presidium, to inform the Commanders of the Eastern and Southern Lithuanian Regions of his illness and proposed to support the candidacy of Adolfas Ramanauskas, Commander of the Defence Forces, for the chairmanship of the Presidium of the LLKS Council.
Members of the LLKS Council reacted differently to Ramanauskas’ candidacy: Partisan commanders in Aukštaitija were ready to support it while Staniškis was categorically opposed. In this situation two of the three sectors of the Presidium of the LLKS Council effectively became independent units and coordinated their activities with the leaderships of the regions of Lithuania in which they were operating. In addition to this, Southern Lithuania had contacts with Western European countries.
On 16th August 1952, Kimštas, the Commander of the Eastern Lithuanian Region was arrested and recruited by the Security Agency. The entire leadership of the Western Lithuanian Region died on 17th January 1953, followed by Staniškis, the Commander of the Southern Lithuanian Region, on February 3rd. Žemaitis was sedated in his bunker by grenades filled with sleeping gas and arrested on May 30th. He was condemned to death on 7th June and executed in Butyrka Prison in Moscow on 26th November 1954.
This article examines the process of establishing the image of ancient slave rebellion leader Spartacus in the early Soviet era, with a focus on the 1920s and 1930s. Although the image of Spartacus in Soviet historiography has been investigated by scholars, the process of acculturation and reception of his figure within toponymy, onomastics, sport, and history-writing has not been researched as a holistic approach of Soviet propaganda. This article traces how and why Spartacus’s image became the primary figure of the classical antiquity in Soviet propaganda of the 1920s. The article argues that it was not Soviet historiography in the 1920s that shaped his image to be embodied in the Soviet narratives and public space. Rather, art, local toponymy, and sports created and promoted a particularly Soviet reception of Spartacus in the 1920s and 1930s which provided implications for socialist Central-Eastern European countries in the post-World War II era.
Founded in 1929 in Poland as a party pursuing an independent Ukraine, the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) engaged in armed anti-Soviet resistance as soon as the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Poland in 1939. This article, based on documents issued by the top OUN agencies, discusses the political affiliation of Ukrainian nationalists. It concludes that the OUN’s ideology, structure, objectives and practice identify it as a national-socialist version of a fascist party. From OUN’s inception and until its very end, its members continued to think and act as fascists. Unlike the OUN, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was not a fascist agency, but it nevertheless served as a reliable tool of its fascist OUN superiors. Fascists elsewhere met their demise as soon as their respective countries had been overrun by their enemies, whereas OUN resistance lasted for six years after the Red Army had reconquered Western Ukraine in 1944. The struggle for Ukrainian independence waged by the OUN was thus a unique case of fascist-led resistance. Fascists survived longer in Western Ukraine than elsewhere in Europe, with the exception of Spain, but in the end they suffered a total defeat.