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. In July–September, 1944, the remaining units were combined into two Lithuanian Volunteer Infantry Regiments.
A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but is not formally part of a country's armed forces.
A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by nationality and branch of service. Typically a battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry.
German-occupied Europe refers to the sovereign countries of Europe which were occupied and civil occupied including puppet government by the military forces and the government of Nazi Germany at various times between 1938 and 1945, during and shortly before World War II, generally administered by the Nazi regime. The farthest east in Europe the German Wehrmacht managed to occupy was the town of Mozdok in the Soviet Union; the farthest north was the settlement of Barentsburg in the Kingdom of Norway; the farthest south in Europe was the island of Gavdos in the Kingdom of Greece; and the farthest west in Europe was the island of Ushant in the French Republic.
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).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).
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.Foreign researchers were hampered by lack of archival data.
Karys is a Lithuanian-language military magazine published since 1919. It is a magazine about the Lithuanian Army and is geared towards the soldiers and the general public. During the interwar period (1919–1940) it was published weekly in Kaunas by the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania and the General Staff of Lithuania. During World War II, it was a magazine of the Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions. During the Soviet period (1950–1990), it was published monthly by Lithuanian veterans in New York. After the restoration of independence in 1990, it is once again published monthly by the Ministry of Defence. The circulation was 4,000 copies in 1920, 33,000 copies in 1940, 1,650 copies in 1983, 22,000 copies in 1991, 3,000 copies in 2005.
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.
The KGB, translated in English as Committee for State Security, was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as the Cheka, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, the committee was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", acting as internal security, intelligence and secret police. Similar agencies were constituted in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russian SFSR, and consisted of many ministries, state committees and state commissions.
Arūnas Bubnys is a Lithuanian historian and archivist. He started his studies at Vilnius University in 1985. In 1993 he received a Ph.D for the thesis Lietuvių antinacinė rezistencija 1941–1944 m..
A monograph is a specialist work of writing on a single subject or an aspect of a subject, often by a single author, and usually on a scholarly subject.
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.Opponents of communism and the new regime were persecuted: an estimated 6,600 were imprisoned as "enemies of the people" and another 17,600 deported to Siberia. 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.
The Soviet occupation of the Baltic states covers the period from the Soviet–Baltic mutual assistance pacts in 1939, to their invasion and annexation in 1940, to the mass deportations of 1941.
Sovietization is the adoption of a political system based on the model of soviets or the adoption of a way of life, mentality, and culture modelled after the Soviet Union. This often included adopting Cyrillic script, and sometimes also Russian language.
Nationalization, or nationalisation, is the process of transforming private assets into public assets by bringing them under the public ownership of a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets or assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being transferred to the state. The opposites of nationalization are privatization and demutualization. When previously nationalized assets are privatized and subsequently returned to public ownership at a later stage, they are said to have undergone renationalization. Industries that are usually subject to nationalization include telephones, electric power, fossil fuels, railways, airlines, iron ore, media, postal services, banks, and water.
When Nazi Germany invaded Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Lithuanians greeted the Germans as liberators from the repressive Soviet rule.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. 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. Therefore, developments in Kaunas and Vilnius were parallel but separate.
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aim of conquering the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, and to also use some Slavs as a slave labour force for the Axis war effort and to annihilate the rest according to Generalplan Ost, and to acquire the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.
The June Uprising was a brief period in the history of Lithuania between the first Soviet occupation and the Nazi occupation in late June 1941. Approximately one year earlier, on June 15, 1940, the Red Army invaded Lithuania and the unpopular Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was soon established. Political repression and terror were used to silence its critics and suppress any resistance. When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, a diverse segment of the Lithuanian population rose up against the Soviet regime, declared renewed independence, and formed the short-lived Provisional Government. Two large Lithuanian cities, Kaunas and Vilnius, fell into the hands of the rebels before the arrival of the Wehrmacht. Within a week, the German Army took control of the whole of Lithuania. The Lithuanians greeted the Germans as liberators from the repressive Soviet rule and hoped that the Germans would re-establish their independence or at least allow some degree of autonomy. No such support came from the Nazis, who steadily replaced Lithuanian institutions with their own administration. The Reichskommissariat Ostland was established at the end of July 1941. Deprived of any real power, the Provisional Government disbanded itself on August 5.
The Provisional Government of Lithuania was a temporary government aiming for independent Lithuania during the last days of the Soviet occupation and the first weeks of German Nazi occupation in 1941.
The first battalion, known as the Tautinio darbo apsaugos batalionas (TDA), was formed by the Provisional Government of Lithuania in Kaunas on June 28. : 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.The Provisional Government dissolved itself on August 5, 1941. The battalion was not dissolved and German Major Franz Lechthaler took over its command. On August 7, when TDA had 703 members, Lechthaler ordered the battalion to be reorganized into two battalions of auxiliary police (German
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. 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. Two more battalions were organized before October 1941.
Lithuanian auxiliary police battalions took an active part in extermination of Jewish people in territory of Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. They were also persecuting local Polish and Belarusian population. First such action of Lithuanian policemen was liquidation of Jews in Kaunas in October 1941 by 12th Police Battalion under command of Antanas Impulevičius. Later the same month 12th battalion murdered entire Jewish population of Slutsk in Belarus. 2nd Police Battalion served as guards in Majdanek death camp in occupied Poland. 20 out of 22 Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions was directly involved in destruction of Jewish people in Eastern Europe. According to German reports Lithuanians comitted 47 thousands killings of Jews in Lithuania out of all 85 thousands comitted by Einsatzkommando there. They also killed 50 thousands Belarusian Jews during the war . Largest crime against non-Jewish civilian population of Lithuanian policemen was killing of about 400 Polish people in villages Nowe Święciany and Stare Święciany and their surroundings .
|BN#||Formed from||Formation began||Formed in||First commander||Holocaust?||Location on|
|Location on |
|Date disbanded||Further fate|
|1st||VAT Security Unit (former LSD)||July 14, 1941||Vilnius||Col Lt Jonas Juknevičius||Yes||Vilnius||Vilnius||Fall 1944||To anti-aircraft units or Germany|
|2nd||VAT Order Unit (former LSD)||July 14, 1941||Vilnius||Col Lt Petras Vertelis||Yes||Lublin||Adutiškis||August 1944||To various German units|
|3rd||VAT Work unit (former LSD)||July 14, 1941||Vilnius||Capt Pranas Ambraziūnas||Yes||Near Minsk||Near Minsk||July 1944||To anti-aircraft units or Dresden|
|4th||4th battalion of PPT||August 30, 1941||Kaunas||Capt Viktoras Klimavičius||No||Stalino||disbanded||February 1944||Kovel Pocket: Soviet captivity|
|5th||5th battalion of PPT||August 28, 1941||Kaunas||Capt Juozas Kriščiūnas||No||Dedovichi||Švenčionėliai||December 1944||To the 256th and 13th battalions|
|6th||Railway Protection Battalion||July 1941||Vilnius||No||Vilnius||Vilnius||August 1944||To anti-aircraft units or Germany|
|7th||Kaunas||Yes||Lityn||disbanded||January 1944||To the 13th and 257th battalions|
|8th||Kaunas||No||Kirovohrad||disbanded||Nov. 20, 1943|
|9th||Kaunas||No||Kaunas||Kaunas||July 1944||To the 1st Lithuanian Police Regiment|
|10th||-||August 1941||Panevėžys||Capt Bronius Kairiūnas||Yes||Panevėžys||disbanded||January 21, 1943||To the 14th battalion|
|11th||3rd battalion of PPT||August 15, 1941||Kaunas||Capt Antanas Švilpa||Yes||Korosten||disbanded||Late 1943|
|12th||2nd battalion of PPT (former TDA)||August 9, 1941||Kaunas||Maj Antanas Impulevičius||Extensively||Minsk||disbanded||February 1944||To the 15th battalion|
|13th||1st battalion of PPT (former TDA)||June 28, 1941||Kaunas||Maj Kazys Šimkus||Extensively||Dedovichi||Opochka||May 1945||Courland Pocket: Soviet captivity|
|14th||-||August 1941||Šiauliai||Capt Stanislovas Lipčius||Yes||Šiauliai||Šiauliai||Summer 1944||To Gdańsk and Dresden|
|15th||VAT Hrodna battalion||July 1941||Vilnius||Maj Albinas Levickis||No||Baranovichi||Near Minsk||July 26, 1944||To Szczecin and Gdańsk|
|251st||-||Summer 1942||Kaunas||No||Kaunas||disbanded||February 1943||To the 2nd battalion|
|252nd||-||May 25, 1942||Kaunas||Maj Bronius Bajerčius||Yes||Kaunas||Lublin||November 1944||To northern Yugoslavia|
|253rd||-||May 1943||Kaunas||Capt Vladas Aižinas||No||n/a||Lublin||August 1944||To aviation units and Dresden|
|254th||-||Spring 1942||Vilnius||Capt Povilas Bareišis||No||Vilnius||disbanded||April 1944||To the 258th or 259th battalions|
|255th||-||July 21, 1942||Kaunas||No||Kaunas||Slutsk||August 1944||To Dresden|
|256th||-||March 1943||Kaunas||Capt Jonas Matulis||No||n/a||Panemunė||May 1945||Courland Pocket: Soviet captivity|
|257th||4 representative police companies||October 24, 1943||Capt V. Miliauskas||No||n/a||Svir, Belarus||October 1944||To Gdańsk|
|258th||Training units||April 27, 1944||No||n/a||n/a||Late 1944||To Germany near Belgian border|
|Lietuva||Lithuanians in Reichsarbeitsdienst||Koszalin||No||n/a||n/a|
Lithuanian Activist Front or LAF was a short-lived resistance organization established in 1940 after Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. The goal of the organization was to liberate Lithuania and re-establish its independence. It planned and executed the June Uprising and established the short-lived Provisional Government of Lithuania. The Government self-disbanded and LAF was banned by Nazi authorities in September 1941. LAF remains controversial due to the part of its members anti-Semitic and anti-Polish views, however the Provisional Government that was formed by LAF and other high-ranking Lithuanian officials related with LAF, including President Kazys Grinius and Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, actively tried to protest against the Nazis' Holocaust activity and protect the Jewish population at their power, which was very limited after the German occupation of Lithuania during World War II.
Marcinkonys or Marcinkańce Ghetto was a small Jewish ghetto established during the Holocaust in Marcinkonys. It existed from around November 1941 to November 1942 and housed 300 to 400 Jews.
The Schutzmannschaft or Auxiliary Police was the collaborationist auxiliary police of native policemen serving in those areas of the Soviet Union and the Baltic states occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler established the Schutzmannschaft on July 25, 1941, and subordinated it to the Order Police. By the end of 1941, some 45,000 men served in Schutzmannschaft units, about half of them in the battalions. During 1942, Schutzmannschaften expanded to an estimated 300,000 men, with battalions accounting for about a third, or less than one half of the local force. Everywhere, local police far outnumbered the equivalent German personnel several times.
The Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force or LTDF was a short-lived, Lithuanian, volunteer armed force created and disbanded in 1944 during the German occupation of Lithuania. LTDF was subordinate to the authorities of Nazi Germany and Its goal was to fight the approaching Red Army, provide security and conduct Nazi security warfare within the territory, claimed by Lithuanians. LTDF had some autonomy and was staffed by Lithuanian officers, their most notable commander being Lithuanian General Povilas Plechavičius. LTDF quickly reached the size of about 10,000 men. After brief engagements against the Soviet and Polish partisans, the force self-disbanded, its leaders were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and numerous of its members were executed by the Nazis. Many others were either drafted into other Nazi auxiliary services or started forming an armed anti-Soviet resistance, also known as Forest Brothers. The Union of Soldiers of the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force, a veterans organization, was founded in 1997.
The Lithuanian Security Police (LSP), also known as Saugumas, was a local police force that operated in German-occupied Lithuania from 1941 to 1944, in collaboration with the occupational authorities. Collaborating with the Nazi Sipo and SD, the unit was directly subordinate to the German Kripo. The LSP took part in perpetrating the Holocaust in Lithuania, persecuting Polish resistance and communist underground.
Algirdas Klimaitis was a Lithuanian paramilitary commander, infamous for his role in the Kaunas pogrom in June 1941.
Ypatingasis būrys or Special SD and German Security Police Squad (Lithuanian: Vokiečių Saugumo policijos ir SD ypatingasis būrys, Polish: Specjalny Oddział SD i Niemieckiej Policji Bezpieczeństwa, also colloquially strzelcy ponarscy was a Lithuanian killing squad also called the "Lithuanian equivalent of Sonderkommando", operating in the Vilnius Region. The unit, primarily composed of Lithuanian volunteers, was formed by the German occupational government and was subordinate to Einsatzkommando 9 and later to Sicherheitsdienst and Sicherheitspolizei.
Stanislovas Kęsgaila Jonaitis was a Lithuanian nobleman, son of Jonas Kęsgaila from the Kęsgailos family. Stanislovas Kęsgaila was the Elder of Samogitia (1486–1522), Grand Hetman of Lithuania (1501–1502), castellan of Trakai (1499–1522) and Vilnius (1522–1526).
The Lithuanian TDA Battalions or TDA, were paramilitary units organized in June–August 1941 by the Provisional Government of Lithuania at the onset of Operation Barbarossa. Members of the TDA were known by many names such as Lithuanian auxiliaries, policemen, white-armbands, nationalists, rebels, partisans, or resistance fighters. TDA was intended as basis for the future independent Lithuanian Army, but soon it was taken over by Nazi officials and reorganized into the Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions. The original TDA eventually became the 12th and the 13th Police Battalions. These two units took an active role in mass killings of the Jews in Lithuania and Belarus. Based on the Jäger Report, members of TDA murdered about 26,000 Jews between July and December 1941.
The Kaunas pogrom was a massacre of Jews living in Kaunas, Lithuania that took place on June 25–29, 1941 – the first days of the Operation Barbarossa and of Nazi occupation of Lithuania. The most infamous incident occurred in the Lietūkis garage, where several dozen Jewish men were publicly tortured and executed on June 27, most of them killed by a single club-wielding assailant nicknamed the "Death Dealer." After June, systematic executions took place at various forts of the Kaunas Fortress, especially the Seventh and Ninth Fort.
Lithuanian partisans is a generic term used during World War II by Nazi officials and quoted in books by modern historians to describe Lithuanian collaborators with the Nazis during the first months of the occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany. Lithuanian partisans, mostly fighters against retreating Soviet forces during the June Uprising, were later organized into various auxiliary units by German Nazis. Several of the numerous units assisted and actively participated in mass executions of the Lithuanian Jews mostly in June–August 1941.
The occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany lasted from the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 to the end of the Battle of Memel on January 28, 1945. At first the Germans were welcomed as liberators from the repressive Soviet regime which occupied Lithuania prior to the German arrival. In hopes of re-establishing independence or regaining some autonomy, Lithuanians organized their Provisional Government. Soon the Lithuanian attitudes towards the Germans changed into passive resistance.
RollkommandoHamann was a small mobile unit that committed mass murders of Lithuanian Jews in the countryside in July–October 1941, with an estimated death toll of at least 60,000 Jews. The unit was also responsible for many murders in Latvia from July through August, 1941. At the end of 1941 the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry was effectively accomplished by Hamann's unit in the countryside, by the Ypatingasis būrys in the Ponary massacre, and by the Tautinio Darbo Apsaugos Batalionas in the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. In about six months an estimated 80% of all Lithuanian Jews were killed. The remaining few were spared for use as a labor force and concentrated in urban ghettos, mainly the Vilna and Kaunas Ghettos.
Mečislovas Gedvilas was a Lithuanian politician who collaborated with occupying Soviet forces. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Lithuanian SSR from 1940 to 1956. Rivalry between him and Antanas Sniečkus, the first secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party, led to his demotion to Minister of Education (1957–1973).
The Litauische Bau-Bataillonen or Lithuanian Construction Battalions were five auxiliary pioneer units of the Wehrmacht during World War II. Formed in 1943, they consisted mostly of conscripted Lithuanians with only a small number of Germans. In total, about 2,500–3,000 men served in the battalions. They were attached to German engineering units under the Army Group North. They were sent to the Eastern Front where they constructed and repaired roads, bridges, bunkers, anti-tank obstacles, and other military fortifications. They were labor units though they engaged Soviet partisans on several occasions. A few times, Lithuanian formations were used to plunder and burn Russian villages according to German scorched earth tactics. The battalions were disbanded and absorbed by various other units in 1944.
Roko maršas was a rock music festival, organized in various cities of Lithuania. It was held in 1987–1989. It was resurrected in 1996 and 1997. The first festivals were organized while Lithuania was still part of the Soviet Union. They became part of the Singing Revolution, spreading ideas of the Lithuanian independence movement among the youth. It helped to awaken the younger generation from Soviet-era apathy and inspire them. In total, the three first festivals attracted an estimated 130,000 spectators. The festivals became a rehearsal for the mass protest rallies by the Sąjūdis that lead to the declaration of Lithuania's independence in March 1990.
Operation Osen was a mass deportation carried out by the Ministry of State Security (MGB) in the territory of the Lithuanian SSR in the autumn of 1951. During the operation, more than 5,000 families were transported to remote regions of the Soviet Union. It was the last large deportation in the series of Soviet deportations from Lithuania. The operation was a dekulakization campaign specifically targeting peasants who resisted collectivisation and refused to join the kolkhozes.
Jonas Steponavičius was a Lithuanian Roman Catholic priest active in Lithuanian cultural and political life. He was ordained a priest in 1906 and earned Ph.D. in psychology in 1912. He returned to Lithuania and became a priest in the Church of St. Johns, Vilnius. He joined Lithuanian cultural life, becoming the first chairman of the Lithuanian Education Society Rytas which established and maintained Lithuanian-language one-room schools. His attempt at holding Lithuanian-language service at the Church of St. Johns caused Polish protests and he was reassigned to the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit and later to Semeliškės. During World War I, he served as a military chaplain in the Caucasus Campaign. After returning to Lithuania, he joined the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party and was elected four times to the Seimas (parliament) from 1920 to the December 1926 coup d'état that brought the regime of Antanas Smetona. He retired from politics and became a school director in Zarasai and a teacher in Utena. In mid-1944, Steponavičius was one of the organizers of the Fatherland Defense Force, a short-lived military unit formed to combat approaching Soviet forces. He retreated to Germany where he died in 1947.
Eduardas Eismuntas is a former KGB officer of the Lithuanian SSR. In October 1987, he was promoted to Major General. From April 1987 to May 1990, he was the chairman of the KGB of the Lithuanian SSR. His tenure coincided with the Sąjūdis movement and declaration of independence on 11 March 1990.