Adolfas Ramanauskas

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Adolfas Ramanauskas
Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas.jpg
Birth nameAdolfas Ramanauskas
Born(1918-03-03)March 3, 1918
New Britain, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedNovember 29, 1958(1958-11-29) (aged 40)
Vilnius, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
AllegianceLithuanian partisans
Years of service1945–1956
Commands heldUnion of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters
AwardsOrder of the Cross of Vytis
Spouse(s)Birutė Mažeikaitė
ChildrenAuksutė Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė
Other workTeacher, journalist

Adolfas Ramanauskas codename Vanagas (March 6, 1918 – November 29, 1957) was a prominent Lithuanian partisan and one of the leaders of the Lithuanian resistance. Ramanauskas was working as a teacher when Lithuania was reconquered by the Soviet Union from Nazi Germany in 1944–45. He joined the anti-Soviet resistance, advancing from a platoon commander to the chairman of the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters. From 1952 he lived in hiding with fake papers.[1] Betrayed, he was arrested, tortured, and eventually executed by the KGB,[2] the last partisan commander to be captured.[1]

After Lithuania regained independence in 1990, Ramanauskas was posthumously awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis and promoted to brigadier general.[2] His daughter, Auksutė Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė, was elected to the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas in 2008. His remains were discovered are reburied in a state funeral in 2018.

Early life[edit]

Ramanauskas was born to a Lithuanian immigrant family in New Britain, Connecticut, United States. In 1921, his family returned to Lithuania, bought 6 hectares (15 acres) of land in Bielėnai near Rudamina, and took up farming.[3] Ramanauskas graduated from Galiniai primary school in 1930, and from Lazdijai secondary school in 1937. He continued his studies at the Klaipėda Pedagogical Institute (now Vilnius Pedagogical University). Just before graduation the Klaipėda Region (Memel Territory) was ceded to Nazi Germany, and the institute was consequently evacuated to Panevėžys.[3] The same year, Ramanauskas enrolled into the Kaunas War School. He graduated with the rank of second lieutenant in the reserve forces.[4] His class of 1940 was the last graduating class before the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in June 1940.

After graduation Ramanauskas moved to Krivonys near Druskininkai where he became a teacher. He participated in the anti-Soviet June Uprising at the start of the 1941 German invasion of Russia.[5] During the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, Ramanauskas lived in Alytus and taught mathematics, Lithuanian language, and physical education at the Alytus Teachers' Seminary.

The Red Army's eventual victory over the Wehrmacht allowed them to regain control of Lithuania. In early 1945, Ramanauskas joined the Lithuanian partisans who waged a guerrilla warfare against the Soviets. He chose codename Vanagas (Hawk) and joined partisan formations in southern Lithuania (Suvalkija and Dzūkija), which were most active among Lithuanian partisans.[6]

Guerrilla warfare[edit]

Ramanauskas joined a partisan platoon operating in the environs of Nemunaitis and Alovė and was immediately elected its commander. He organized disorganized resistance members into a 140-men Merkinė company (later reorganized into a battalion).[5] The early stages of resistance saw open battles with the NKVD and destruction battalion forces. Two of such encounters was in the Varčios Forest between Alovė and Daugai on June 14 and 23, 1945. During the shootout, 30–47 partisans were killed and 6–14 taken prisoners.[7] On July 1, 1945, Ramanauskas was promoted to commander of Merkys Brigade (composed of three battalions – Merkinė, Marcinkonys and Druskininkai). In October 1945, in Nedzingė he married Birutė Mažeikaitė, a former student at the Alytus Teachers' Seminary and fellow partisan fighter (codename Vanda).[3] On December 15, 1945, he led a daring but unsuccessful attack on Merkinė. The partisans destroyed Soviet records, but they could not free prisoners or overpower the Soviet troops in the local church.[6] Ramanauskas strove to improve organization and centralized command of the partisans. He became commander of the Dainava Command (Lithuanian: Dainavos apygarda) after the death of Dominykas Jėčys-Ąžuolis in September 1947 and of the South Lithuania Region (Lithuanian: Pietų Lietuvos sritis) in 1948. He also wrote, edited, and published numerous partisan newspapers, including Mylėk Tėvynę (1946–47), Laisvės varpas (1947–49), Свободное слово (Russian-language newspaper for Soviet soldiers; 1947–49), Miško brolis (1951–52).[3]

Chamber where Ramanauskas was previously held in the former KGB building in Vilnius

In February 1949, he participated in a meeting of all partisan commanders in the village of Minaičiai. The Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters, chief command of the partisans, was established during the meeting. Ramanauskas was elected to the presidium of the Union and as first deputy of its chairman Jonas Žemaitis.[3] He was also promoted to the rank of Major. In fall 1949, Ramanauskas was further promoted to Colonel and chief commander of the defensive forces of the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters. When Žemaitis resigned due to poor health in 1952, Ramanauskas became the leader of the Union.[3] However, by that time the armed resistance had diminished. Due to heavy losses organized structures broke down and partisans continued their struggles individually. Ramanauskas officially ordered cessation of armed struggle in favor of passive resistance.[4]

He obtained fake documents and lived in hiding. While in hiding he wrote three-part memoirs, which were hidden by trusted people and uncovered only in 1988–89 during the era of glasnost and first published as Daugel krito sūnų… (Many Sons Have Fallen…) in 1991. KGB operatives, led by Petras Raslanas and Nachman Dushanski, continued to search for Ramanauskas.[2] He was betrayed by Antanas Urbonas, a former classmate at Kaunas, and arrested on October 11, 1956. He was taken to the KGB prison in Vilnius (now the Museum of Genocide Victims) and tortured. On October 12, barely alive, he was transferred to a hospital, where doctors noted his many wounds – punctured eye, missing testicles, bruised stomach, etc.[3][8] Sentenced to death on September 25, 1957, Ramanauskas was executed on November 29, 1957. His wife Birutė Mažeikaitė was sentenced to 8 years in the Gulag system.[2]


In 2017, city authorities in his native New Britain, Connecticut decided to build a monument to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.[9]

Ramanauskas' grave was found in Našlaičių kapinės (orphanage cemetery) in Antakalnis, Vilnius in 2018. The identity was confirmed by anthropological analysis of the skull, DNA investigation, and photographic matching. His death was the result of a gunshot in the vertex of his head, and he was found to have been buried wearing the belt he wore at his execution, which depicted oak leaves and Iron Wolf with the Columns of Gediminas.[10]


  1. ^ a b Statiev, Alexander (2010). The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands. Cambridge University Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-521-76833-0.
  2. ^ a b c d "Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras. 2004-01-30. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė, Auksutė (2007). Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas Partisan Commander General. Kaunas: Naujasis lankas. pp. 12–16. ISBN 978-9955-03-424-7.
  4. ^ a b Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Ramanauskas, Adolfas". Encyclopedia Lituanica. IV. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. p. 432. LCC 74-114275.
  5. ^ a b Lukšas, Aras (2010-12-03). "Paskutinis partizanų vadas". Lietuvos žinios (in Lithuanian). 277 (12806). ISSN 1822-1637. Archived from the original on 2010-12-07.
  6. ^ a b Čekutis, Ričardas; Dalius Žygelis (2007-10-15). "Laisvės kryžkelės. Dainavos apygarda" (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  7. ^ "Varčios mūšio 60-osios metinės" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras. 2005-06-17. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  8. ^ A.Ramanausko-Vanago byla: ką joje perskaitė, bet nutylėjo R.Vanagaitė?
  9. ^ "JAV pagerbs Adolfą Ramanauską – Vanagą". Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  10. ^ Beniušis, Vaidotas. "Vilniuje rasti partizanų vado A.Ramanausko-Vanago palaikai". Retrieved 7 June 2018.

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