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]

Paramilitary Militarised force or other organization

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.

Battalion military unit size

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 European countries occupied by the military forces of Nazi Germany

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). [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

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.

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. [4]

KGB Main security agency for the Soviet Union

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.


Lithuanian soldier escorting a group of Lithuanian Jews in Vilnius in July 1941 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B10160, Wilna, Juden, litauischer Polizist.jpg
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]

Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (1940)

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. [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.

Operation Barbarossa 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War

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.

June Uprising in Lithuania

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.

Provisional Government of Lithuania

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. [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.


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 [14] . 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 [15] . 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 [16] .

List of battalions

BN# [n 1] Formed fromFormation beganFormed inFirst commander [n 2] Holocaust?
[n 3] [17]
Location on
1942-08-26 [18]
Location on
1944-03-17 [3]
Date disbandedFurther fate
1stVAT Security Unit (former LSD) [13] July 14, 1941 [19] VilniusCol Lt Jonas Juknevičius [13] YesVilniusVilniusFall 1944 [20] To anti-aircraft units or Germany [20]
2ndVAT Order Unit (former LSD) [13] July 14, 1941 [19] VilniusCol Lt Petras Vertelis [19] Yes Lublin Adutiškis August 1944 [19] To various German units [19]
3rdVAT Work unit (former LSD) [13] July 14, 1941 [19] VilniusCapt Pranas Ambraziūnas [21] YesNear Minsk Near Minsk July 1944 [22] To anti-aircraft units or Dresden [22]
4th4th battalion of PPTAugust 30, 1941 [10] KaunasCapt Viktoras Klimavičius [10] No Stalino disbandedFebruary 1944 [23] Kovel Pocket: Soviet captivity [23]
5th5th battalion of PPTAugust 28, 1941 [24] KaunasCapt Juozas Kriščiūnas [10] No [24] Dedovichi Švenčionėliai December 1944 [24] To the 256th and 13th battalions [24]
6thRailway Protection Battalion [25] July 1941 [25] VilniusNoVilniusVilniusAugust 1944 [26] To anti-aircraft units or Germany [26]
7thKaunasYes Lityn disbandedJanuary 1944 [27] To the 13th [17] and 257th battalions [28]
8thKaunasNo Kirovohrad disbandedNov. 20, 1943 [17]
9thKaunasNoKaunasKaunasJuly 1944 [29] To the 1st Lithuanian Police Regiment [29]
10th-August 1941 [30] Panevėžys Capt Bronius Kairiūnas [31] Yes [32] Panevėžys disbandedJanuary 21, 1943 [33] To the 14th battalion [33]
11th3rd battalion of PPTAugust 15, 1941 [10] KaunasCapt Antanas Švilpa [3] Yes Korosten disbandedLate 1943 [34]
12th2nd battalion of PPT (former TDA)August 9, 1941 [35] KaunasMaj Antanas Impulevičius [10] Extensively Minsk disbandedFebruary 1944 [36] To the 15th battalion [36]
13th1st battalion of PPT (former TDA)June 28, 1941 [10] KaunasMaj Kazys Šimkus [10] Extensively [37] Dedovichi Opochka May 1945 [38] Courland Pocket: Soviet captivity [38]
14th-August 1941 [39] Šiauliai Capt Stanislovas Lipčius [40] Yes [41] Šiauliai Šiauliai Summer 1944 [30] To Gdańsk and Dresden [30]
15thVAT Hrodna battalion [42] July 1941 [42] VilniusMaj Albinas Levickis [43] No Baranovichi Near MinskJuly 26, 1944 [44] To Szczecin and Gdańsk [44]
250th-1942 [17] KaunasNo Pskov Daugavpils
251st-Summer 1942 [45] KaunasNoKaunasdisbandedFebruary 1943 [45] To the 2nd battalion [45]
252nd-May 25, 1942 [19] KaunasMaj Bronius Bajerčius [19] YesKaunasLublinNovember 1944 [19] To northern Yugoslavia [46]
253rd-May 1943 [29] KaunasCapt Vladas Aižinas [29] Non/aLublinAugust 1944 [29] To aviation units and Dresden [29]
254th-Spring 1942 [47] VilniusCapt Povilas Bareišis [48] NoVilniusdisbandedApril 1944 [49] To the 258th or 259th battalions [49]
255th-July 21, 1942 [50] KaunasNoKaunas Slutsk August 1944 [51] To Dresden [51]
256th-March 1943 [38] KaunasCapt Jonas Matulis [38] Non/a Panemunė May 1945 [38] Courland Pocket: Soviet captivity [38]
257th4 representative police companies [52] October 24, 1943 [53] Capt V. Miliauskas [54] Non/a Svir, Belarus October 1944 [55] To Gdańsk [55]
258thTraining units [56] April 27, 1944 [56] Non/an/aLate 1944 [51] To Germany near Belgian border [51]
259th-April 1944 [57] Prienai [57] Non/an/a
LietuvaLithuanians in Reichsarbeitsdienst [58] Koszalin [58] Non/an/a
  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.

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  1. Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 232
  2. Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 16
  3. 1 2 3 4 Bubnys (1998a)
  4. 1 2 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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Knezys (2000)
  11. Anušauskas, et al. (2005), p. 161
  12. Bubnys (2008b), p. 36
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Bubnys (2008b), p. 37
  14. Statiev 2010, p. 69
  15. Statiev 2010, p. 70
  16. Wnuk 2018, p. 94
  17. 1 2 3 4 Čekutis & Žygelis (2010-04-14)
  18. Bubnys (1998c), p. 120
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Bubnys (2000)
  20. 1 2 Bubnys (2008b), p. 42
  21. Bubnys (2008b), p. 43
  22. 1 2 Bubnys (2008b), p. 48
  23. 1 2 Bubnys (2008b), p. 51
  24. 1 2 3 4 Bubnys (2001a)
  25. 1 2 Breslavskienė (September 2010c)
  26. 1 2 Stankeras (2008), p. 566
  27. Stankeras (2008), p. 567
  28. Stankeras (2008), p. 534
  29. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bubnys (1998b)
  30. 1 2 3 Bubnys (2010), p. 84
  31. Bubnys (2010), p. 85
  32. Bubnys (2010), p. 85–86
  33. 1 2 Bubnys (2010), p. 87
  34. Bubnys (2008a), p. 52
  35. Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 21
  36. 1 2 Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 36
  37. Bubnys (2006), pp. 48–49
  38. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bubnys (2001b)
  39. Bubnys (2010), p. 81
  40. Bubnys (2010), p. 82
  41. Bubnys (2010), pp. 82–83
  42. 1 2 Bubnys (2007), p. 70
  43. Bubnys (2007), p. 69
  44. 1 2 Bubnys (2007), p. 76
  45. 1 2 3 Bubnys (2001c)
  46. Stoliarovas (2008b), p. 292
  47. Bubnys (2008b), p. 52
  48. Bubnys (2008b), p. 53
  49. 1 2 Bubnys (2008b), p. 54
  50. Breslavskienė (August 2010b)
  51. 1 2 3 4 Bubnys (2009-10-17)
  52. Stankeras (2008), p. 533–534
  53. Breslavskienė (September 2010b)
  54. Stankeras (2008), p. 533
  55. 1 2 Stankeras (2008), p. 538
  56. 1 2 Breslavskienė (September 2010a)
  57. 1 2 Breslavskienė (August 2010a)
  58. 1 2 Stoliarovas (2008a), p. 15