Lithuanian Freedom Army

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The Lithuanian Freedom Army (Lithuanian: Lietuvos laisvės armija or LLA) was a Lithuanian underground organization established by Kazys Veverskis, a student at Vilnius University, on December 13, 1941. Its goal were to re-establish independent Lithuania via political and military means. During the Nazi Germany occupation it opposed German policies, but did not begin armed resistance. The armed struggle began in mid-1944 when Red Army reached the Lithuanian borders after the Minsk Offensive. The LLA became the first wave of the Lithuanian partisans, armed anti-Soviet guerrilla fighters. It attempted to become the central command of the armed struggle. However, the organization was liquidated by the Soviet security forces (NKVD and KGB) by the end of 1945. The remains of the organization were absorbed by other partisans. The guerrilla war continued until 1953.

Organization and German occupation[edit]

The LLA distanced itself from other political resistance organizations in Lithuania.[1] It believed that various organizations and factions splintered Lithuanian unity for petty bickering. The LLA was supposed to be disciplined, military-based organization.[2] It was one of the few organizations that did not rely on either Soviet Union or Nazi Germany for support and emphasized the determination of the Lithuanian people. It was the only sizable organization that did not participate in the activities of the Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania[1] and did not support creation of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force.[2]

Veverskis was in charge of the headquarters, personally oversaw writing of orders and directives,[1] and published newspaper Karinės ir politinės žinios (Military and Political News), which targeted not the general public but members of LLA and its commanders.[2] His right-hand man was lieutenant Adolfas Eidimtas. Veverskis also actively recruited new members, particularly targeting Lithuanians serving in the Schutzmannschaft (Police Battalions).[2] According to the testimony of Eidimtas to NKVD, by mid-1944 LLA numbered up to 10,000 men,[1] but that is likely an exaggeration.[3] Among the recruits were twelve former colonels of the Lithuanian Army, who became commanders of LLA districts. The Army was organized in four regions (Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai, and Panevėžys), which were further subdivided into districts based on the administrative divisions of Lithuania.[1] According to regulations, each district had to have headquarters with operational, reconnaissance, organizational, and personnel departments. It unsuccessfully planned to send troops to combat Polish Armia Krajowa in the Vilnius Region (see the Polish–Lithuanian relations during World War II).[1]

Soviet occupation and liquidation[edit]

On July 1, 1944, LLA declared the state of war and ordered all its able members to mobilize into platoons, stationed in forests.[2] The departments were replaced by two sectors – operational, called Vanagai (Hawks or Falcons; abbreviated VS), and organizational (abbreviated OS). Vanagai were the armed fighters while the organizational sector was tasked with passive resistance, including supply of food, information, transport to Vanagai.[2] The organizational structure was disrupted by the upheaval of the approaching front line. Many LLA members retreated to Germany, becoming the displaced persons.[1] Nevertheless, men responded to the call starting the Lithuanian partisan movement. The LLA obtained limited amount of armament and munitions from Nazi Germany.[4] The organization, possibly drawing from the experiences of the 1941 anti-Soviet uprising, envisioned a brief uprising followed by establishment of the independent Lithuanian state.[3] However, the organization was not successful in fighting the Soviets. According to official statistics from NKVD, the Soviets killed 659 and arrested 753 members of the LLA by January 26,1945.[3] Founder Veverskis was killed in December 1944, Eidimtas was arrested in April 1945, the headquarters were liquidated in December 1945.[2] This represented the failure of highly centralized resistance, as the organization was too dependent on Veverskis and other top commanders.[3] Lower-level organization remained, especially in Samogitia and Aukštaitija, and was absorbed by the partisan movement. Remnants of its organizational structure survived until the end of the guerrilla war in 1953.[2] One of the LLA members, Jonas Žemaitis, became the commander of the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bubnys, Arūnas (2003). Nazi Resistance Movement in Lithuania 1941-1944. Vaga. pp. 82–87. ISBN 5-415-01684-8. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Čekutis, Ričardas; Dalius Žygelis (2007-05-14). "Laisvės kryžkelės. Lietuvos laisvės armija" (in Lithuanian). Bernardinai.lt. 
  3. ^ a b c d Arvydas Anušauskas, et al., ed. (2005). Lietuva, 1940–1990 (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras. pp. 310–312. ISBN 9986-757-65-7. 
  4. ^ Misiunas, Romuald; Rein Taagepera (1983). The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940–1990. University of California Press. p. 83. ISBN 0-520-04625-0. 
  5. ^ Dorril, Stephen (2002). MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service. Simon and Schuster. p. 292. ISBN 0-7432-1778-0.