Lithuanian Riflemen's Union
|Lithuanian Riflemen's Union
(Lietuvos šaulių sąjunga)
Flag of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union
|Allegiance||Lithuanian Armed Forces|
|Role||Civilian self-defence institution|
|Anniversaries||June 27, 1919
September 20, 1989
|Engagements||Lithuanian Wars of Independence
Resistance in Lithuania during World War II
January Events in Lithuania
|Colonel Antanas Plieskis|
|LRU member‘s badge|
Lithuanian Riflemen's Union or Union of Lithuanian Riflemen (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Šaulių Sąjunga), also referred to as šauliai (Lithuanian: šaulys for rifleman) a nationalistic paramilitary organisation with historical significance.
After Lithuania re-established independence in 1990, the organization was recreated, but it did not regain its former popularity or influence. Current membership of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union is nearly 10,000 (in the interwar period it was 62,000). 66% of members are Young Riflemen (12–18 years old), 10% are Combat Riflemen (19–45 years old) and the remaining 24% are Non-combat Riflemen.
The organisation was most powerful in independent Lithuania until the Soviet occupation in June 1940. Being a member was seen as prestigious, and "šaulys" was regarded as a defender of the state: when Lithuania was occupied, it conducted guerrilla warfare. It was natural that many state officials were members of this organisation. At the time it was multinational containing Belarusians and Russians. The main purpose of the organization was to train citizens in a military art, and in case of military aggression, to provide trained people to the Lithuanian Armed Forces. After the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in 1940, the Soviets quickly dissolved the organisation, and many members were arrested and sentenced to death.
After Lithuania re-established independence in 1990, the organization was recreated, but it did not regain its former popularity or influence. A branch called Young Riflemen (Jaunieji Šauliai) is a paramilitary organisation for children. Current membership of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union is 7,000; in the interwar period it was 61,000. 61% of its members are Young Riflemen (12–18 years old), 8% are Active Riflemen (people who formerly were in army, 18–45 years old) and the remaining 31% are Inactive Riflemen.
Members of the organization participated in the Klaipėda Revolt of 1923, when Klaipėda Region was annexed by Lithuania. The former German area with a large Lithuanian population was then administered by France, according to the Treaty of Versailles.
The nickname šauliai might also refer to the infamous Ypatingasis būrys during World War II, many of whose members came from LRU. During World War II, a number of former members of this organization, dissolved and banned by the Soviets, became infamous for supporting anti-Polish actions as well as pogroms against the Jews. Some of its members volunteered to serve the Germans, forming a core of the infamous Ypatingasis būrys of 40–50 men responsible – along with German police – for the Ponary massacre where 100,000 Polish Jews and Poles, as well as Soviet prisoners of war were murdered. Many members of the organization were falsely implicated in war crimes by the Soviet NKVD. These individuals were later exhonerated after Lithuania regained her independence in 1990. 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lithuanian Riflemen's Union.|
- This nickname might also refer to the infamous Ypatingasis būrys during World WarII, many of whose members came from LRU.
- (English) Tadeusz Piotrowski (1997). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide.... McFarland & Company. p. 162. ISBN 0-7864-0371-3.
- Kazimierz Sakowicz, Yitzhak Arad, Yale University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-300-10853-2 Google Print, p.12
- (Lithuanian)Lietuvos šaulių sąjungos atkūrimas
- (English)Membership of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union
- (Polish) (English) Niwiński, Piotr (2011). Ponary : miejsce ludzkiej rzeźni. Warszawa: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej. pp. 25–26.
- (Polish) Czesław Michalski, Ponary - Golgota Wileńszczyzny. Konspekt nº 5, Winter 2000–2001, a publication of the Academy of Pedagogy in Kraków. Last accessed on 10 February 2007.
- (Polish) Stanisław Mikke, 'W Ponarach'. Relation from a Polish-Lithuanian memorial ceremony in Panerai, 2000. On the pages of Polish Bar Association
- (Lithuanian) Official site