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.
The end of the Second World war did not mean the end of violence for many regions in Eastern Europe. The establishment of Communist-led governments often met not only civil but also armed resistance. These actions were taken by partisan groups and paramilitary forces which in some cases had been formed already during the war to support axis forces. In other cases – like Poland’s Armia Krajowa – they fought Nazi and Soviet occupiers with the same fervour. The aims of the ﬁghters were the end of Communist rule and – like in the Baltic region – independence from the Soviet Union. Diﬃculties in accessing sources and research taboos as well as a focus on other aspects of the Cold War are reasons why violent resistance in Europe after the Second World War is a topic yet rather underestimated and comparably little investigated by historiography. This book gives a comprehensive ﬁrst overview of the ultimately futile attempts to end the rule of Moscow and her proxies.