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The History of the Lithuanian State and the Armed Forces

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The History of the Lithuanian State and the Armed Forces
Formation of the Lithuanian State
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th – 18th-century
Lithuania under the Domination of Russia in 1795 -- 1915
Restoration of the Lithuanian State
Two decades of the Independent State of Lithuania (1920 – 1940)
Lithuania under the Occupations of 1940 –1944
Armed Resistance to regain the Independence of Lithuania in 1944 – 1953
Unarmed Resistance to regain the Independence of Lithuania in 1954 – 1990
Re-establishment of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and Withdrawal of the Occupant
Troops


Formation of the Lithuanian State
At the turn of the 10th -century the dominant powers of Europe “discovered” the
Baltic area thus causing a threat to the historic survival of the Baltic tribes.
Comparatively distant location of Germany to Lithuania served as a protective
measure but simultaneously blocked the advent of European civilization. At the end
of the 10th -century -- the start of the 11th -century, the Roman Catholic Church
embarked upon the Catholic mission in the Baltic area. These were the initial contacts
of Lithuania to Europe. The first mention of the name Lithuania (Litua) in a written
source, the annals of the German town Kvedlinburgh, goes back to 1009.
At the time of the second encounter of the “Latin” Europe and Lithuania, the
expansion into the East was conducted along the routes that had previously been
developed out by the Crusaders.
Yet Lithuania became the barrier that had prevented the German colonies from taking
over the Baltic lands. The Lithuanian areas were highly integrated and able to resist
the military onslaught from outside. By their military potential and skills, the
Lithuanian Armies were prevalent in the Baltic area.
In the 13th -century the historic development of the Baltic area followed the pattern
characteristic of the total European civilization of the 9th–century. The Lithuanians
adopted the role of the Vikings: they were the Vikings of the Baltic area defending
their existence from within the inland.
The “Viking” Lithuanian State was shaped in the period of Duke Mindaugas who
unified the Lithuanian territories and became the first King of Lithuania. At the start
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of the 13th – century, mighty Lithuanian troops ravaged the territories of disintegrating
Russia. The German Crusaders, who would systematically attack Lithuania, received
the first significant defeat in the Battle of Šiauliai, in 1236. This facilitated the
establishment of the State of Lithuania at the moment when hostile political powers
were approaching Lithuania from three directions.
On July 6 of 1253, Duke Mindaugas was crowned King of Lithuania. In
the tumults of war, Lithuania was recognized as equal of other Christian kingdoms.


The Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th –18th-century
After the formation, for almost two hundred years, the Lithuanian State was fighting a
defensive war to protect the Lithuanian territories and resist massive invasions of the
Crusader Order (Teutonic Order). Simultaneously, the Lithuanian State was rapidly
expanding southwards and eastwards.
Thus the Lithuanian State, a pagan metropolis, was dominating the Christian
territories of several times its size, which was unique for the historic period.
Lithuania achieved this status in the 13th –15th- century, with two powerful Asian and
European powers, the Germans, and the Tatars, threatening the integrity of the
State on two frontlines.
High was the price paid for the independence of the Lithuanian State; techniques of
the most sophisticated military-diplomatic warfare had also been utilized for this aim.
In the 14th-century, a major part of Lithuania was turned in the battle arena. Decisive
defensive operations were launched in Pilėnai (1336), and Kaunas (1362). The efforts
of expanding the Lithuanian State culminated with the rule of Vytautas the Great
(1392 – 1430) who stretched out the borders of Lithuania to reach the coastal areas of
the Black Sea.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania assimilated diverse religious denominations and
cultures with the main defensive potential still being Lithuanian and Lithuanian lands
being the territorial basis of the kingdom.
At the start of the 15th-century, the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was as
large as 1 million square kilometers. This was the culminating point of the Lithuanian
State expansion and the enlargement of the area of Lithuanian dominance.
Having reached this culmination, in 1837, Lithuania went into the Commonwealth of
Poland and Lithuania and converted to Christianity. In 1410, the Armies of the
Lithuanian Grand Duchy fought in the battle of Ţalgiris (Grunwald) along with the
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Polish troops to completely defeat the Teutonic Order and end the epoch of the wars
against the Crusaders. Having experienced enormous losses, the Lithuanians and
Poles stopped the Crusader troops at the mouth of the Nemunas river. Yet the Grand
Duchy of Moscow was gathering strength to enter the war against the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania with the intent to retrieve the Slavonic areas that had gotten under the
Lithuanian domination.
In 1494 –1522 the Grand Duchy of Moscow seized about one third of the territories of
the Lithuanian State ruled by Vytautas the Great. Due to the unfavourable
international situation, Lithuania had to seek for a compromise with the Kingdom of
Poland. In 1569 Lithuania and Poland signed the Lublin Union to enter into the
Commonwealth of Two Nations (Republic). Lithuania retained its sovereignty:
Lithuanian laws (the Statutes of Lithuania), its own territory and governmental
institutions, the state treasury and the Armed Forces. Strong royal power could not be
institutionalized in Lithuania because of the democratic tradition supported by the
Lithuanian gentry; this did not facilitate to the formation of absolute monarchy either,
in contrary to what happened in neighboring states. Yet the Lithuanian nobility were
rapidly losing their ethnic identity.
Constant wars against Russia and Sweden would deliver severe blows to the existence
of the Lithuanian State, the consequences of which would be ever harder to overcome.
The aggression of neighboring countries would be only temporarily stopped by
occasional victories of the Lithuanian troops, such as the victory against the Swedish
Army near Salaspils, the fame of which spread all over Europe. In the middle of the
16th-century, two hundred years since the wars against the Crusaders, troops of
foreign armies stepped into the territories of Lithuania again.
In 1655 the Russians occupied the town of Vilnius for the first time. Since the end of
the 17th-century, the interference of foreign states into the politics of the Lithuanian
State became ever more significant because of the internecine conflicts of the local
nobility. At the start of the 18th-century, an extended period of the Russian intruding
into the domestic issues of the Lithuanian State had commenced which lasted up to
the final disintegration of the State. The end of the 18th-century saw the partitioning
(in 1772, 1793, and 1795) of the Commonwealth of Lithuania and Poland by Russia,
Austria and Prussia caused by domestic weakness of the Polish-Lithuanian Union and
foreign aggression. On March 24, 1794, patriotically minded groups started the revolt
against the domination of Russia with the aim to restore the territorial integrity of the
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Commonwealth of Lithuania and Poland. The Lithuanian Army supported the rebels.
Russia became the main suppressor of the uprising and the antagonist of the
Commonwealth of Lithuania and Poland. In 1795, with the third and final partitioning
of the Commonwealth of Lithuania and Poland, Lithuania was annexed by Russia.
Thus the Lithuanian State of 600 years was liquidated as well as the Lithuanian
Armed Forces with their unique traditions and their own Military School. The old
traditions of military schooling in the State of Lithuania could be exemplified by the
fact that “Artis magnae artileriae” (The Great Art of Artillery) written by Kazimieras
Simonavičius, of Vilnius University, and published in Amsterdam in 1650, had been
the most important scientific treaty on artillery in Europe for a hundred and fifty
years. In it, the concepts of multi-staged rockets and missile artillery were considered
for the first time.


Lithuania under the Russian Domination in 1795 – 1915


With the incorporation of Lithuania into the Russian Empire, the Russian dominance
was established, foreign to Lithuania. The attempts at the restoration of the Lithuanian
State were emphatically expressed in 1812, with the marching of Napoleon troops
across Lithuania, as well as in the National Liberation revolts of 1831 and 1863. The
revolts were suppressed. 9 thousand of the participants of the 1831 revolt and almost
10 thousand of those that had participated in the revolt of 1863 were arrested and
deported to Siberia. Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in East Europe
(founded in 1579) was closed as generating too much resistance to the domination of
Russia. In 1864 the Lithuanian press was banned as well as schooling in the
Lithuanian language.
But the Lithuanians developed their own underground education system due to which
the Lithuanian population had the highest literacy index compared to the other areas
of the Russian Empire. For distribution (or “smuggling” into the country) of
Lithuanian books, reading and educating children in the native language, the
Lithuanians were persecuted and deported to Siberia. The lift of the ban on the
Lithuanian press on May 7, 1904, was the victory of the Lithuanians in the battle
against the repression of the nation’s rights, suppression of the freedom of press and
speech. In 1905 the Grand Assembly of Vilnius composed of representatives of the
Lithuanian nation generated the idea to establish an autonomous Lithuanian State.
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When the World War I broke out, the German Army occupied Lithuania. The
Lithuanian Council, established in 1917 at the Conference of the Lithuanians,
embarked upon the restitution of the Independent Lithuanian State with the ethnic
territories of the former Lithuania.


Restitution of the State of Lithuania
At the end of the World War I, on February 16, 1918, The Council of Lithuania
declared the re-establishment of the Independent State of Lithuania, based on
democratic foundations, with the capital town of Vilnius.
As the Russian Communist troops followed closely the retreating German troops,
the Lithuanian State was forced to faster organize the Lithuanian Armed Forces to
defend the nation from foreign invasion. The Lithuanian Armed Forces were shaped
and fortified in the battles of the Independence War against Russian Communist
troops and Polish Volunteer Forces.
By the fall of 1919, the volunteer-based Lithuanian Armed Forces pushed the Red
Army away from the Lithuanian territory; by the end of the same year, Lithuanian
troops forced the German-Russian volunteer units under Col. P. Bermont retreat.


In July of 1920, the Peace Treaty with Russia was signed to establish the border of the
Lithuanian State considerably further eastward and southward compared to what it is
nowadays. The ethnic areas of Lithuania, with the lakes of Narutis and Svyrė, the
towns of Lyda, Gardinas and Vilnius with the District of Vilnius, were all established
as Lithuanian.
Thus the Independence of the State of Lithuania was protected. But on April 20,
1920, Poland occupied and annexed Eastern Lithuania and the town of Vilnius. The
battles on November 18 –21, in 1920, near Širvintos and Giedraičiai, won by the
Lithuanian Armed Forces over the Polish troops, were the last 20th-century armed
conflicts to Poland. Yet the Poland’s control of Vilnius was complicating the
Lithuanian – Polish relations through the entire between the two-war period.




Two Decades of the Independent State of Lithuania
( 1920 – 1940)
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In 1920 – 1940, the Parliamentary Republic of Lithuania (Presidents Aleksandras
Stulginskis, Kazys Grinius) implemented important reforms to support the Lithuanian
State. In 1920, during the first democratic election, the Constituent Assembly
(or the Seimas of Lithuania) was elected; in 1922, the Constitution of the Republic of
Lithuania, the first up to date fundamental law was adopted. Lithuania was received
in the League of Nations to enjoy a full-fledged membership of the organization. The
Republic of Lithuania received international recognition. On July 25, 1922, Lithuania
was recognized by the USA, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan. In January of 1923,
the Lithuanian Uprisal in Klaipėda Region, that had been occupied and dominated by
Germany, liberated the area to become part of the Lithuanian State for the first time
in its history.
The Land Reform started in 1922, as well as the introduction of the Litas as the
national currency, had a stimulating effect on vital functions of the country. Several
thousands of the first volunteers of the Lithuanian Army were given the land to
become their property.
After the military coup d`état of December 17, 1926, the parliamentary tradition of
government was abandoned. President Antanas Smetona became the leading figure of
the State to retain presidential powers and act as the head of the Lithuanian Republic
until 1940.
During two decades of independence significant changes in economy and culture of
Lithuania took place. The Armed Forces of Lithuania were organized and equipped in
a way to meet the requirements of the time. For the peace time the Lithuanian Armed
Forces numbered 25 thousand soldiers, and the number could be increased up to 150
thousand in case of mobilization. Of mention is the input of the Div.Gen. Stasys
Raštikis, Brig. Gen. Antanas Gustaitis, Gen. Juozas Kraulevičius into further
development and modernization of the Lithuanian Army. At the beginning of 1940,
the Lithuanian Armed Forces consisted of 3 infantry divisions, 4 artilery regiments, 3
cavalry regiments, military aviation and heavily equiped military units with the total
assets of more than 700 pieces of ordnance, 118 military aircrafts, 10 armored
vehicles and other military equipment manufactured in Czechoslovakia, France,
Germany, Switzerland, and other states of West Europe.


 On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the secret protocols to
the Molotov – Ribbetrop Pact, partitioning by this East Europe. On September 28, the
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Indepenence of Lithuania ended with a new secret protocol under which Lithuania
was placed in the zone of influence of the Soviet Union.
After Poland was taken over and divided on October 10, 1939, Lithuania was forced
to sign the treaty which was used by the Soviet Union as an excuse to bring their
military troops into the territory of Lithuania (the same scenario was used for Latvia
and Estonia).
Simultaneously, Lithuania was given back the capital town Vilnius and a minor part
of the ethnic territories which had been assigned to Lithuania by the Peace Treaty of
1920.


Occupation of Lithuania in 1940 – 1944


On July15, 1940, the Soviet troops crossed the borders of Lithuania and violently
entered the territory of the Lithuanian State. The Lithuanian Armed Forces did not
resist complying with the political decision of the Government of Lithuania. The
President of the Lithuanian State who was also the Commander-in-Chief of the
Lithuanian Armed Forces, emigrated abroad. The Lithuanian Army was liquidated,
with the fragments of it incorporated into the Red Army. The Lithuanian State was
destroyed. This marked the beginning of the fifty years of occupation. Mass
repressions of Lithuanian citizen were undertaken, and thousands, no matter what
social class or stratum, were arrested, massacred and deported to Siberia. On August
3, 1940, Lithuania was illegally annexed to the Soviet Union. The resistance against
the occupant SSSR broke into a revolt on June 22, 1941. The revolt was supported by
numerous Lithuanian military units that had been incorporated into the Red Army
before yet split from it to join the Lithuanian resistance fighters.
2 000 rebels and defenseless civilians were massacred in the battles or due to the
Soviet terrorism.
During the revolt, thousands of political prisoners were released or broke away from
prisons. The Interim Lithuanian Government was formed; yet in 43 days of its
existence it was unable to restore the Lithuanian State and its operations were
terminated with the German Occupation and the newly introduced German
Administration.
The fact that Lithuania was the only of the occupied Baltic States where the Germans
were unable to form the Lithuanian SS units was determined by the civil
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noncompliance movement in the country. (In Europe the same resistance model was
chosen by the occupied Greece).
Efforts were made to preserve the vitality of the nation in hope that with the end of
War independence would be restored to Lithuania. To support the vision of the
would-be independence, Vietinė (Local) Brigade of volunteer fighters was formed
that existed between February to May 1944 and numbered twenty thousand men in its
ranks. The Local Brigade was expected to become the nucleus of the independent
Armed Forces of Lithuania, as happened in 1919 – 1920, and to protect the borders of
Lithuania. When Gen. Povilas Plechavičius, Commander of the Local Brigade,
refused to comply with the German orders, 100 Lithuanian militaries were executed
by firing, commanders were thrown to prison. The rest of soldiers of Local Brigade
were disarmed, and either deported to Germany or had to escape.


 Armed Struggle to regain the Independence of Lithuania in 1944 – 1953
In July of 1944, with the front moving west, the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania for
the second time. Thousands of patriotically-minded Lithuanians started the fatal battle
to regain the Independence of Lithuanian State. Large-scale partisan war was
launched. For an entire decade, without any outside assistance, the Lithuanian nation
resisted regular troops of the occupant Soviet Union. Initally, partisan fighter districts
lead by officers of the Lithuanian Army were organized, named Vytis, Didţioji Kova
(the Great Battle), Ţemaičiai, Tauras, Vytautas, Dainava, Kęstutis, later on, Algirdas
and Prisikėlimas (Resurrection). The districts were organized by the territorial
defense principle, and subdivided into brigades; with the number of partisan fighters
growing fewer they operated as smaller subunits of the former brigades under the
ethnic name “tėvūnija”(“patrimony”or home unit). Each partisan unit operated strictly
within the boundaries of its district. Partisans as well as volunteer fighters wore
uniforms of the Lithuanian Army and based their operations on the Statutes of the
Lithuanian Armed Forces. In February of 1949, a unified military and political
authority, the Freedom Fight of Lithuania Movement was established to coordinate
partisan efforts. The Freedom Fight of Lithuania Movement, lead by the competent
commander, Partisan General Jonas Ţemaitis, developed a high-level military-
political document which on February 16, 1949 declared the Freedom Fight of
Lithuania Movement a legal organization authorized with the representation of the
vision of Independent Lithuania on its occupied territory.
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The armed struggle for regaining of the Independence of Lithuania was suppressed
only in 1953 by the brutal physical genocide of the Lithuanian nation when hundreds
of thousands of Lithuanian people were deported, imprisoned and massacred by the
Soviets.
The partisan war of a decade raised a good number of talented military leaders:
partisan Col. and Commander of the Freedom Fight of Lithuania Movement,
A.Ramanauskas; partisan Commander of South Lithuania Region, LTC J.Vitkus;
partisan Maj. J.Lukšas known for having twice crossed the ”Iron Curtain”.
Lithuanian partisan fighters proved their military skills and combat dedication in
numerous fights and clashes against occupant troops.
Such operations as Kalniškės Fight (May 16, 1945), Varčia Battle (June 14, 1945),
Virtukai Battle (July 19-22, 1945), Merkinė Assault (December 15, 1945) and
numerous other episodes of the fight against occupant troops became the most
dramatic episodes of the history of the partisan war in Lithuania.
The Soviets responded with the most brutal measures to suppress the armed resistance
of the Lithuanian nation: they destroyed farmsteads of partisans and their supporters
by machine-gun fire; they publicly desecrated dead bodies of massacred partisan
fighters in squares of Lithuanian towns and villages.
More than 20 thousand of Lithuanian fighters died when fighting in battles or were
tortured to death by the occupants. None less were arrested and suffered long-term
imprisonment in soviet camps were they ultimately faced death.
Thus the efforts to re-establish the Independent State of Lithuania at that particular
period failed. During World War II and in the first postwar decade, more than one
million of Lithuanian population was massacred; 240 thousand were killed as the
consequence of the Nazi occupation, 360 thousand perished due to the Soviet
occupation; 500 thousand more were forced to emigrate from Lithuania.


Unarmed Resistance to regain the Independence of Lithuania in 1954 – 1990


After the armed resistance was suppressed, the Lithuanian nation pursued with their
efforts to regain the Independent Lithuanian State in an unarmed war. Established
during the period of the Nazi occupation, the Supreme Committee of the Lithuanian
Libera tion (SCLL, the Lithuanian acronym VLIK) was active in Western countries
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and, along with other organizations, voiced the issue of the restitution of the
Lithuanian Independence. The diplomatic missions of the former Independent
Lithuanian State abroad continued their operations and supported the non-recognition
of the Soviet occupation policy as followed by the United States and many other
countries of the world.
The Roman Catholic Church assumed a significant role in Lithuania. The Church
acted not only as a bitter opponent to the communist ideology; it was also a decisive
combatant for the believers` rights and the main supporter of the underground press.
On March 19, 1972, a group of clergy and believers embarked upon publishing of
“The Chronicles of the Lithuanian Catholic Church”, an underground publication to
become world famous.
Though in the seventies the Soviet regime became more lenient and repressions grew
fewer, the Soviet Union pursued the policy of russification and colonization,
suppression of cultural life in Lithuania, violation of human rights. This increased the
resistance of the Lithuanian nation against the Soviet regime, which was expressed by
secretly celebrating national and religious festivals, fostering national customs and
traditions, by ever increasing number of underground organizations and publications.
As the Chairman of Seimas Vytautas Landsbergis put it:
“The entire Lithuania that had not been turned Bolshevik, became the underground.”
The self-immolation act of Romas Kalanta on May 14, 1972, was another significant
act of the protest against the Soviet regime.


Any protest demonstrations were suppressed by force. In 1976 – 1978, organizations
to defend the human rights, also religious and national rights, were established: the
Group of Helsinki, the Freedom League of Lithuania (FLL, the Lithuanian acronym
LLL), the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Believers Rights.


The formation of the Sajudis Reform Movement of Lithuania on June 3, 1988,
became a new powerful impetus to freedom fighters. The Sajudis Reform Movement
was supported by the Lithuanian nation. Powerful manifestations shook the
foundations of the occupant regime. One million and 650 thousand of supporters
signed the petition requesting to withdraw the occupant military troops from
Lithuania. 700 thousand of Sajudis supporters participated in the “Via Baltica”
manifestation. In 1989 the Sajudis Reform Movement of Lithuania won the elections
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to the Lithuanian Supreme Council (Constituent Seimas). On March 11, 1990, the
Constituent Seimas adopted the Act of the Re-establishment of the Lithuanian
Republic, stating: “... the execution of the sovereign powers of the State of Lithuania,
abolished by foreign forces in 1940, is re-established, and henceforth Lithuania is an
independent state again.” Professor Vytautas Landsbergis was elected the Chairman
of the Constituent Seimas and he was authorized by the Seimas to act as Head of
State.


Re-establishment of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and Withdrawal of the
Occupant Troops


After proclaiming of the re-establishment of the Independent Lithuanian State, it was
vital to reinforce the independence and to put into effect the sovereignty of the State.
While in reality Lithuania was still run by the institutions of the occupant country, it
was necessary to start from the very basics of the independent state.
The priority tasks were to take over the border control from the SSSR KGB troops, to
ensure the withdrawal of the occupant military troops from the territory of the
independent Lithuanian State and to form the Lithuanian Armed Forces for the
protection of the State. These were started without delay.
On March 12, 1990, immediately after declaration of the Act of the Re-establishment
of the Lithuanian State, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian Republic passed the
decree to terminate the validity of the Soviet Law on Military Conscription for the
citizens of Lithuania.
By the decree of March 14, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian Republic stopped
the activities of military drafting centers of the Soviet Union on the territory of
Lithuania.
On March 13, the Lithuanian Supreme Council sent an appeal to the Chairman of the
Supreme Council of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev to start the negotiations on
the removal of the Soviet military troops illegally stationed on the Lithuanian
territory. The SSSR adopted a hostile attitude towards Lithuania, declared ultimatums
accompanied by threats, and on April of 1990, the Soviets imposed a 74- day long
economic blocade upon Lithuania.
With the mentioned developments as the background, through the entire year 1990,
the National Defence was under formation. The National Defence Department was
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institutionalized on April 25, 1990, and tasked with the development of the National
Defence System. On May 31, 1990, the National Defence Department set up a
military – technical athletic club with branch sections, to organize men into the
service with the National Defence. In June, in seven zones of Lithuania, the affiliates
(subdividions) of the National Defence Department were set up; on August 21, the
Security Service was started; on September 10, the Border Protection Service
Division was established; and on December 20, Officer Courses were started in
Kaunas.
On November 23, 1990, to commemorate the anniversary of the Armed Forces of
Lithuania, the first since the fifty years of occupation military parade was mounted in
Kaunas.
Reluctant to see Lithuania slipping away from their control, the Soviet authorities
resorted to severely aggressive measures: in January of 1991, the Armed Forces of the
SSSR captured the facilities of strategic and national importance of Lithuania.
Defenders of independence formed a live wall to surround the premises of the
Supreme Council, the Government, the Press Palace, the Radio and TV facilities, and
the TV tower. This was when volunteers of the National Defence pledged their
allegiance to Lithuania; yet it was obvious that without adequate military equipment
they will not be able to withstand long.
Yet the occupants` attempt of a coup d`état on January 13, 1991, failed. During the
armed takeover of the TV tower, 13 defenders of the Lithuanian freedom were killed,
600 civilians were injured or traumatized.
The dramatic developments pressed Lithuania to speed up the formation of the
National Defence. On January 17, 1991, the National Defence Service (NDVS, the
Lithuanian acronym SKAT) was established. A thousand of volunteers received the
tasks of strategic importance: to protect the power facilities and governmental
premises of importance. On Febrary 22, 1991, Training Unit was established to train
soldiers for the defence of the State. Meanwhile, until the putsch of August 19, 1991,
the Soviet Union repeatedly tried to impose the status of a soviet republic on
Lithuania. In the spring and summer of 1991, the Soviet Army systematically
terrorized and assaulted governmental institutions and citizens of Lithuania. The
Border Protection services and customs stations became the most sensitive targets to
be attacked by the Soviet troops. They would ravage and destroy the facilities of the
Border Control facilities and customs stations terrorizing unarmed border patrols and
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customs officials. On May 19, 1991, in Krakūnai Border Control station, the chief of
shift was killed, in the line of duty; and on July 31, a horrific crime was conducted in
Medininkai Border Control station: seven customs officials and policemen were
brutally murdered. Those that had executed the terible crimes are even nowadays
under the protection of the authorities of Russia.
At the moment of the Communist coup d`état, soldiers of the National Defence were
ready to organize the armed defence of the Lithuanian Supreme Council and the
Government premises, and in case of necessity to start a campaing of civil resistance.
As the pressure exerted by the Soviet Union to retain their domination in Lithuania
grew, referendums were organized in the re-established State of Lithuania. 80% of
the population of Lithuania voiced their support of the independence of Lithuanian
State and their request to remove occupant troops before the end of 1992 as well as
for the restitution for the damage done during the occupation period.
Yet the removal of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union from the Lithuanian
territory could only start when, after the putsch of 1991 in Russia, Lithuania restored
diplomatic relations to the majority of foreign states. Simultaneously, the Soviet
drafting centers were taken over by the National Defence, to replace them with
military enrollment centers in the districts of Lithuania; other changes were
introduced. On October 15, the Rescue and Civil Defence Service was established to
co-ordinate the activities of the governmental institutions for emergency management
and liquidation of emergency consequences. On October 16, 1991, the National
Defence Department was liquidated, and on October 18 the Minister of National
Defence was appointed. On January 2, 1991, the Ministry of National Defence started
its operations. On December 30, 1991, the first Lithuanian officer military ranks were
awarded. In October, 1991, the first conscripts to serve with the National Defence
System of Lithuania were drafted. On November 14, 1991, the Training Unit was
restructured into Motorized Airborne Brigade, afterwards re-named as Motorized
Infantry Brigade “Geleţinis Vilkas” (“Iron Wolf”). In 1992 – 1993, rapid formation of
the restored Armed Forces was on the way. On June 2, 1992, the Lithuanian Military
Aviation was restored, and the Aviation Service was established. The first military
aircraft with the Lithuanian Airforce insignia took off on June 18, 1992. In the
beginning of 1992, NATO Secretary General Manfred Werner visited Lithuania for
the first time; the first military attaches were accredited. On February 3, 1992, the
Joint Staff of the Ministry of National Defence was institutionalized to become
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responsible for the operational planning in the Armed Forces. The Joint Staff
embarked upon the development of stadartization documents and improvement of the
structure of the Armed Forces of Lithuania.
Positive developments were seen as to the withdrawal of Soviet military troops from
Lithuania. On January 17, 1992, Lithuanian and Russian authorities – Vytautas
Landsbergis and Boris Yeltsin – signed a communique regarding the withdrawal of
the Russian troops from the territory of Lithuanian Republic. On February 27, 1992,
the first, though symbolically small unit of the Soviet forces, moved away from the
territory of Lithuania. On September 8, 1992, in Moscow, a Treaty was signed to
Russia, with the schedule for the removal of Russian troops from the Lithuanian
territory attached to it. 78% of the occupant troops to be withdrawn by the end of
1992, as agreed in the schedule, left the territory of Lithuania. Along with other units,
the 107th Motorized Riflemen Division, notoriously famous for storming of the TV
and Radio tower of Vilnius and the Press Palace on January 13, 1991, was also
moved away from the Lithuanian territory. The SSSR military units in patrol of the
border were also withdrawn as well as the 166th and 466th units of Missile Brigade
located in Visoriai, a small town near Vilnius. The Lithuanian authorities took over
52 military installations including the “Nothern town”, the largest Soviet military
base in Vilnius, other military installations in Ukmergė, Marijampolė, Pabradė.
Officer training has become a priority issue for the restoration of the Lithuanian
Armed Forces. Thus the National Defence School was opened on September 1, 1992.
The Lithuanian Military Fleet of the Lithuanian Naval Force was established which
took over the ships and technical equipment of the former Separate Squadron of
Warships. By the end of 1992, military units of the Lithuanian National Defence
System have developed enough to become the Armed Forces of Lithuania. On
November 19, 1992, the Supreme Council, or the Seimas of Lithuania, solemnly
declared that the Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania had been officially
restored.

The Act on the Restoration of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania

The Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania, bearing in mind the courageous
struggles for the Independence and safeguard work initiated by the volunteers of the
present day, taking care of Lithuania’s people safe present and future, the territory of
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the Republic of Lithuania and the State Border protection, for the sake of the freedom
and independence of Lithuania, by this Act solemnly proclaims that henceforth the
Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania have been restored. The Law of the
Republic of Lithuania shall govern the activity of the Armed Forces of the Republic
of Lithuania.
The Chairman of the Supreme Council
V. Landsbergis


Vilnius, November 19, 1992
No. 1-3066
This is how the Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania were officially
established. Subsequently, the formation of the National Defence System was to be
continued, and the branches of the Armed Forces were to be further developed.


In the new Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the fundamentals of the
political, legal, and economic system of the state were defined, and the principles of
the national security and of the State defence were established. The new Constitution
was adopted by public referendum on October 25, 1992.


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(c) 2001 The Ministry of Defence of Lithuanian Republic
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