Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions

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The Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions were paramilitary units (battalions) formed during the occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany between 1941 and 1944. Similar units, known as Schutzmannschaft-Bataillonen, were organized in other German-occupied territories of Eastern Europe. In Lithuania, the first battalions originated from units formed during the anti-Soviet Uprising of June 1941. Lithuanian activists hoped that these units would become the basis for the reestablished Lithuanian Army. Instead, these units were absorbed into the German military apparatus and aided German forces:[citation needed] guarded strategic objects, engaged in anti-partisan operations, participated in the Holocaust.[citation needed] The 12th and the 13th battalions, tracing their roots from the Tautinio darbo apsaugos batalionas (TDA), were particularly active in the executions of the Jews and were responsible for estimated 78,000 Jewish deaths in Lithuania and Belarus.[citation needed] While the battalions were often deployed outside Lithuania, they generally did not participate in combat. In total, 26 battalions were formed and approximately 13,000 men served in them.[1] In July–September, 1944, the remaining units were combined into two Lithuanian Volunteer Infantry Regiments.[2]

Terminology[edit]

The units are known under a number of different names. German documents referred to them as Ordnungsdienst (order service), Selbstschutz (self-defense), Hilfspolizei (auxiliary police).[3] From September 1941, they became known as Schutzmannschaft-Bataillonen (abbreviated Schuma; police team). In Lithuanian, the police battalions were known as savisaugos batalionai (self-defense battalions), apsaugos dalys (security units), Lietuvos apsaugos dalys (LAD, security units of Lithuania).[3]

Sources and historiography[edit]

The topic of Lithuanian Police Battalions is very controversial and poorly researched. The main obstacle is the lack of reliable and objective data. During the war, journal Karys published frequent stories about the battalions, but to protect military secrets the articles were heavily censored to remove names, dates, and locations. During the Soviet period, when Soviet propaganda exploited tales of war crimes and actively persecuted former members of the battalions, objective research was impossible. Several members of the battalions managed to escape to the West and publish memoirs, but they gloss over the controversial aspects of the battalions and often deny Lithuanian involvement in the Holocaust.[4] Foreign researchers were hampered by lack of archival data.

When Lithuania declared independence, the archives became accessible to scholars. However, many of the documents are scattered in various archives in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Russia. In addition, due to the chaotic nature of the war, recordkeeping was poor, particularly towards the end of the war. The units were subject to frequent reorganizations and restructurings; sometimes the units were confused themselves of their proper name or numbering. In the post-war years, KGB produced interrogation protocols of former members of the battalions, but these are not considered reliable as confessions were often obtained through torture or outright fabricated. Nevertheless, Lithuanian scholars, primarily Arūnas Bubnys, published several articles analyzing structure and activities of individual battalions, but they are yet to produce a detailed monograph on the topic.[4]

Formation[edit]

Lithuanian soldier escorting a group of Lithuanian Jews in Vilnius in July 1941

In June 1940, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. The Soviets introduced harsh sovietization policies, including nationalization of larger enterprises, landholdings, and real estate.[5] Opponents of communism and the new regime were persecuted: an estimated 6,600 were imprisoned as "enemies of the people"[6] and another 17,600 deported to Siberia.[7] The Lithuanian Army was reorganized into the 29th Rifle Corps (179th Rifle and 184th Rifle Divisions) of the Red Army. More than 500 of Lithuanian officers were retired and 87 were imprisoned.[8]

When Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Lithuanians greeted the Germans as liberators from the repressive Soviet rule.[9] They spontaneously joined the anti-Soviet June Uprising, formed the Provisional Government of Lithuania, and declared restoration of independence. Lithuanians began forming their own military and police units in hopes to recreate the Lithuanian Army.[10] The territory of Lithuania was invaded by and divided between two German Army Groups: Army Group North, which took over western and northern Lithuania, and Army Group Centre, which took over most of the Vilnius Region.[11] Therefore, developments in Kaunas and Vilnius were parallel but separate.

The first battalion, known as the Tautinio darbo apsaugos batalionas (TDA), was formed by the Provisional Government of Lithuania in Kaunas on June 28.[10] The Provisional Government dissolved itself on August 5, 1941. The battalion was not dissolved and German Major Franz Lechthaler took over its command.[10] On August 7, when TDA had 703 members, Lechthaler ordered the battalion to be reorganized into two battalions of auxiliary police (German: Polizeihilfsdienst bataillone; Lithuanian: Pagalbinės policijos tarnyba or PPT). During August three more battalions of PPT were formed. In October, these five battalions were renamed to security battalions (Lithuanian: apsaugos batalionas). In December, the five battalions were reorganized again into battalions of Schutzmannschaft.

Lithuanian men massively deserted from the Soviet 29th Rifle Corps and gathered in Vilnius. They organized Lithuanian Self-defense Units (Lithuanian: Lietuvių savisaugos dalys or LSD), stationed in Vilnius, Pabradė, Trakai, and Varėna.[12] On July 21, 1941, LSD was reorganized into Vilnius Reconstruction Service (Lithuanian: Vilniaus atstatymo tarnyba or VAT) that had three units (Work, Order, and Security). On August 1, VAT and its three units were reorganized into three battalions of Schutzmannschaft.[13] Two more battalions were organized before October 1941.

List of battalions[edit]

BN#[n 1] Formed from Formation began Formed in First commander[n 2] Holocaust?
[n 3][14]
Location on
1942-08-26[15]
Location on
1944-03-17[3]
Date disbanded Further fate
1st VAT Security Unit (former LSD)[13] July 14, 1941[16] Vilnius Col Lt Jonas Juknevičius[13] Yes Vilnius Vilnius Fall 1944[17] To anti-aircraft units or Germany[17]
2nd VAT Order Unit (former LSD)[13] July 14, 1941[16] Vilnius Col Lt Petras Vertelis[16] Yes Lublin Adutiškis August 1944[16] To various German units[16]
3rd VAT Work unit (former LSD)[13] July 14, 1941[16] Vilnius Capt Pranas Ambraziūnas[18] Yes Near Minsk Near Minsk July 1944[19] To anti-aircraft units or Dresden[19]
4th 4th battalion of PPT August 30, 1941[10] Kaunas Capt Viktoras Klimavičius[10] No Stalino disbanded February 1944[20] Kovel Pocket: Soviet captivity[20]
5th 5th battalion of PPT August 28, 1941[21] Kaunas Capt Juozas Kriščiūnas[10] No[21] Dedovichi Švenčionėliai December 1944[21] To the 256th and 13th battalions[21]
6th Railway Protection Battalion[22] July 1941[22] Vilnius No Vilnius Vilnius August 1944[23] To anti-aircraft units or Germany[23]
7th Kaunas Yes Lityn disbanded January 1944[24] To the 13th[14] and 257th battalions[25]
8th Kaunas No Kirovohrad disbanded Nov. 20, 1943[14]
9th Kaunas No Kaunas Kaunas July 1944[26] To the 1st Lithuanian Police Regiment[26]
10th - August 1941[27] Panevėžys Capt Bronius Kairiūnas[28] Yes[29] Panevėžys disbanded January 21, 1943[30] To the 14th battalion[30]
11th 3rd battalion of PPT August 15, 1941[10] Kaunas Capt Antanas Švilpa[3] Yes Korosten disbanded Late 1943[31]
12th 2nd battalion of PPT (former TDA) August 9, 1941[32] Kaunas Maj Antanas Impulevičius[10] Extensively Minsk disbanded February 1944[33] To the 15th battalion[33]
13th 1st battalion of PPT (former TDA) June 28, 1941[10] Kaunas Maj Kazys Šimkus[10] Extensively[34] Dedovichi Opochka May 1945[35] Courland Pocket: Soviet captivity[35]
14th - August 1941[36] Šiauliai Capt Stanislovas Lipčius[37] Yes[38] Šiauliai Šiauliai Summer 1944[27] To Gdańsk and Dresden[27]
15th VAT Hrodna battalion[39] July 1941[39] Vilnius Maj Albinas Levickis[40] No Baranovichi Near Minsk July 26, 1944[41] To Szczecin and Gdańsk[41]
250th - 1942[14] Kaunas No Pskov Daugavpils
251st - Summer 1942[42] Kaunas No Kaunas disbanded February 1943[42] To the 2nd battalion[42]
252nd - May 25, 1942[16] Kaunas Maj Bronius Bajerčius[16] Yes Kaunas Lublin November 1944[16] To northern Yugoslavia[43]
253rd - May 1943[26] Kaunas Capt Vladas Aižinas[26] No n/a Lublin August 1944[26] To aviation units and Dresden[26]
254th - Spring 1942[44] Vilnius Capt Povilas Bareišis[45] No Vilnius disbanded April 1944[46] To the 258th or 259th battalions[46]
255th - July 21, 1942[47] Kaunas No Kaunas Slutsk August 1944[48] To Dresden[48]
256th - March 1943[35] Kaunas Capt Jonas Matulis[35] No n/a Panemunė May 1945[35] Courland Pocket: Soviet captivity[35]
257th 4 representative police companies[49] October 24, 1943[50] Capt V. Miliauskas[51] No n/a Svir, Belarus October 1944[52] To Gdańsk[52]
258th Training units[53] April 27, 1944[53] No n/a n/a Late 1944[48] To Germany near Belgian border[48]
259th - April 1944[54] Prienai[54] No n/a n/a
Lietuva Lithuanians in Reichsarbeitsdienst[55] Koszalin[55] No n/a n/a
Notes:
  1. ^ Battalion number. Numbers 301 through 310 were assigned to the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force.
  2. ^ Only the first commander is listed. Some of them were acting commanders, holding the post for a few weeks.
  3. ^ Indicates whether the unit participated in the Holocaust. The conclusion is based on the research by Arūnas Bubnys.

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 232
  2. ^ Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 16
  3. ^ a b c d Bubnys (1998a)
  4. ^ a b Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 8
  5. ^ Anušauskas, et al. (2005), pp. 116–119
  6. ^ Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 137
  7. ^ Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 140
  8. ^ Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 112
  9. ^ Suziedelis (2011), p. 252
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Knezys (2000)
  11. ^ Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 161
  12. ^ Bubnys (2008b), p. 36
  13. ^ a b c d e Bubnys (2008b), p. 37
  14. ^ a b c d Čekutis & Žygelis (2010-04-14)
  15. ^ Bubnys (1998c), p. 120
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bubnys (2000)
  17. ^ a b Bubnys (2008b), p. 42
  18. ^ Bubnys (2008b), p. 43
  19. ^ a b Bubnys (2008b), p. 48
  20. ^ a b Bubnys (2008b), p. 51
  21. ^ a b c d Bubnys (2001a)
  22. ^ a b Breslavskienė (September 2010c)
  23. ^ a b Stankeras (2008), p. 566
  24. ^ Stankeras (2008), p. 567
  25. ^ Stankeras (2008), p. 534
  26. ^ a b c d e f Bubnys (1998b)
  27. ^ a b c Bubnys (2010), p. 84
  28. ^ Bubnys (2010), p. 85
  29. ^ Bubnys (2010), p. 85–86
  30. ^ a b Bubnys (2010), p. 87
  31. ^ Bubnys (2008a), p. 52
  32. ^ Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 21
  33. ^ a b Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 36
  34. ^ Bubnys (2006), pp. 48–49
  35. ^ a b c d e f Bubnys (2001b)
  36. ^ Bubnys (2010), p. 81
  37. ^ Bubnys (2010), p. 82
  38. ^ Bubnys (2010), pp. 82–83
  39. ^ a b Bubnys (2007), p. 70
  40. ^ Bubnys (2007), p. 69
  41. ^ a b Bubnys (2007), p. 76
  42. ^ a b c Bubnys (2001c)
  43. ^ Stoliarovas (2008b), p. 292
  44. ^ Bubnys (2008b), p. 52
  45. ^ Bubnys (2008b), p. 53
  46. ^ a b Bubnys (2008b), p. 54
  47. ^ Breslavskienė (August 2010b)
  48. ^ a b c d Bubnys (2009-10-17)
  49. ^ Stankeras (2008), p. 533–534
  50. ^ Breslavskienė (September 2010b)
  51. ^ Stankeras (2008), p. 533
  52. ^ a b Stankeras (2008), p. 538
  53. ^ a b Breslavskienė (September 2010a)
  54. ^ a b Breslavskienė (August 2010a)
  55. ^ a b Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 15

Bibliography