Iron Wolf (organization)

Iron Wolf (Geležinis Vilkas, also known as Iron Wolf Association) was a Lithuanian paramilitary organization active in 1927–1934. Initially established as an athletic society (founded by officer Algirdas Sliesoraitis, supported by Catholic chaplain V. Mironas), it recruited its members mainly from army officers (overall numbers were minuscule). Its original raison d'être was perceived as a fight against internal destabilization in light of political crisis, civil unrest and yet another demonstrative threat of military intervention, made by the Polish government. With the exception of glorification of youth and struggle, it featured rather few criteria of fascist ideology.[1]

The organization gradually radicalized and became almost completely dependent on a personal will of Augustinas Voldemaras, who used it to target his political opponents.[2] After Voldemaras's Cabinet resignation, the movement was banned in 1930, although it continued as an underground group, and became even more radical. In 1934, its members attempted a failed coup d'état against President Antanas Smetona. Voldemaras was arrested, released in 1938 and soon emigrated. Former members of the organization reorganized later in the 1930s.

Leading Voldemarists fled to Nazi Germany after the Soviet occupation of Lithuania in 1941. They joined the Lithuanian Activist Front led by Kazys Škirpa, but in the spring of 1941 betrayed him to work directly with the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). After the Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, they led a failed putsch against the Provisional Government of Lithuania. They led the Lithuanian Nationalist Union, which collaborated with the Nazi occupation and which was active in the Holocaust in Lithuania.

The name of the organization comes from the story of Gediminas's dream, first recorded in The Broad Code of Lithuanian Chronicles from the 16th century. During the period of 1928–1929, Iron Wolf published its periodical Tautos kelias twice a month.


  1. ^ Alan Oliver Goetz, The Iron Wolf: Lithuanian Fascism (1927-1941)
  2. ^ Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism: 1914-1945, London: Routledge, 2001, p. 341

External links

Augustinas Voldemaras

Augustinas Voldemaras (16 April 1883 – 16 May 1942) was a Lithuanian nationalist political figure. He briefly served as the country's first prime minister in 1918 and continued serving as the minister of foreign affairs until 1920, representing the fledgling Lithuanian state at the Versailles Peace Conference and the League of Nations. After some time in academia, Voldemaras returned to politics in 1926, when he was elected to the Third Seimas.

Dissatisfied with the left-wing government of President Kazys Grinius, Voldemaras and fellow nationalist Antanas Smetona supported the military coup d'état in December 1926 and he was appointed as the prime minister for a second time. A brilliant orator, Voldemaras represented the radical wing of the Lithuanian Nationalist Union that was increasingly critical of the more moderate policies of President Smetona. Smetona had Voldemaras removed from office in September 1929 and exiled to Zarasai. Voldemaras was arrested in 1934 after a failed coup against Smetona and served a prison sentence until exiled to France in 1938. Returning to Lithuania soon after the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, he was promptly arrested by the Soviet authorities and died in their custody in Moscow.

Fascist paramilitary

A fascist paramilitary is a fighting force - whether armed, unarmed, or merely symbolic - that is independent of regular military command and is established for the defence and advancement of a movement that adheres to the radical nationalist ideology of fascism. Since fascism is such a militarist ideology, there are very few varieties of fascism where paramilitaries do not play a central role, and some kind of paramilitary participation is almost always a basic requirement of membership in fascist movements. Fascist paramilitaries have seen action in both peacetime and wartime. Most fascist paramilitaries wear political uniforms, and many have taken their names from the colours of their uniforms.

The first fascist paramilitary was the Blackshirts of Italian Fascism led by Benito Mussolini. While many of the Blackshirts were former members of the Arditi who had fought in World War I or the Fascio of the immediate post-war years, the most direct inspiration for the first fascist paramilitary was Giuseppe Garibaldi's Redshirts.

A number of other fascist movements established paramilitaries modelled after the Italian original, most notably Nazism with its Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel. Others include:

in Ireland, in the 1930s, the Blueshirts under Eoin O'Duffy

the gold shirts and the Red Shirts of 1930s Mexico

the Greenshirts of Brazilian Integralism

the Heimwehr in Austria, in the 1920s and 1930s

the Legionary Greenshirts of the Romanian Iron Guard

Iron Wolf (organization)

National Union (Portugal)Several fascist movements took their cue from the Sturmabteilung rather than the Blackshirts, such as the Greyshirts in South Africa and the Silver Legion of America. Following the Axis invasion of Albania, the occupation forces formed the Albanian Militia under the Blackshirts. Several fascist paramilitaries were active in Romania including the Lăncieri.

Some fascist movements have also established paramilitary youth organizations such as the Hitler Youth or the Mocidade Portuguesa.

A number of fascist paramilitaries have been deployed in conventional warfare. For example, in the later years of World War II the Italian Blackshirts developed into the Black Brigades. Likewise, the combat wing of the Schutzstaffel, the Waffen-SS, fought in many major battles of World War II. The Einsatzgruppen were death squads active in Eastern Europe which carried out the Holocaust and other political killings. In an act of desperation, the Nazis deployed remnants of the Hitler Youth and Sturmabteilung against the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin. At the eleventh hour of the war, the Nazis laid plans for a guerrilla resistance movement they called the Werwolf. However, these plans amounted to little more than a handful of sabotages and assassinations which were ineffective.

Neo-Nazis have used the white power skinhead scene as a recruitment base for neofascist paramilitaries like Combat 18. Soccer hooliganism throughout Europe is another source of recruits. Some groups in the white supremacist wing of the militia movement in the United States can be seen as neofascist paramilitaries.

Geležinis Vilkas

Geležinis Vilkas means "iron wolf" in Lithuanian and may refer to:

Iron Wolf (character), from the medieval foundation legend of the city of Vilnius

RK Geležinis Vilkas

FK Geležinis Vilkas

Geležinis Vilkas, children football academy

Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf, a unit of the Lithuanian Army

Iron Wolf (organization), was a Lithuanian fascist movement formed in 1927

Iron Wolf

Iron Wolf or Ironwolf may refer to:

Iron Wolf (roller coaster), a former roller coaster at Six Flags Great America

Ironwolf, an album by George Canyon

Ironwolf (comics), a DC Comics character

Iron Wolf (character), a character in the medieval foundation legend of the city of Vilnius

Motorised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf, a unit of the Lithuanian Army

Iron Wolf (organization), a Lithuanian paramilitary movement formed in 1927

Saliamonas Banaitis

Saliamonas Banaitis (pronunciation ; 15 July 1866 – 4 May 1933) was a Lithuanian printer, politician, and businessman. He was one of the twenty signatories of the Act of Independence of Lithuania in 1918.

Early death of his father and brother forced Banaitis to quit school in order to work at his family's farm. Despite lack of higher education, he joined Lithuanian cultural life – smuggled banned Lithuanian press, assisted Vincas Kudirka with the publication of Lithuanian-language newspapers Varpas and Ūkininkas, participated in the Great Seimas of Vilnius. In 1905, he moved to Kaunas and established the first Lithuanian printing press in the city. In close cooperation with the Society of Saint Casimir, his press published almost 400 books and ten periodicals. He founded a credit union in 1911.

Banaitis was particularly active during World War I. He established the first Lithuanian gymnasium as well as 12 primary schools in Kaunas, organized an ensemble of kanklės players, prepared and published a political proposal for a future Lithuanian state along the historical traditions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1917, he attended Vilnius Conference and was elected to the 20-member Council of Lithuania. On 16 February 1918, he was the second (after Jonas Basanavičius) to sign the Act of Independence of Lithuania. At the outbreak of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence, he recruited men to join the newly formed Lithuanian Army.

In independent Lithuania, Banaitis was one of the founders of the right-wing Economic and Political Union of Lithuanian Farmers and editor of its newspaper Žemdirbių balsas (Voice of Farmers). The union failed to win seats in the parliamentary elections and merged with the Party of National Progress to form the Lithuanian Nationalist Union in 1924. In 1918, Banaitis was one of the founders and council member of the Trade and Industry Bank. Due to mismanagement, the bank went bankrupt in 1927. He was also co-founder and vice-chairman of the Lithuanian Steamship Corporation. His last project, the construction of the Kaunas bus station, was completed already after his death.

Stasys Raštikis

Stasys Raštikis (September 13, 1896 – May 3, 1985) was a Lithuanian military officer, ultimately obtaining the rank of divisional general. He was the commander of the Lithuanian Army from September 21, 1934 to April 23, 1940.

During World War I, he served in the Imperial Russian Army mostly in the Caucasus Campaign. After return to Lithuania in 1918, he joined the newly formed Lithuanian Army and fought in the Lithuanian–Soviet War. He was severely injured and spent 20 months in Soviet captivity. He returned to the 5th Infantry Regiment and later joined the Intelligence Department of the General Staff. The coup d'état of December 1926 brought his future uncle-in-law Antanas Smetona to power and propelled his career. Raštikis completed military education in Germany and, after a failed military coup in 1934, became commander of the General Staff and Commander of the Armed Forces. He undertook an extensive military reform to standardize, streamline, and modernize the army during the period of increasing militarization and rising tensions in Europe. He placed particular attention on soldiers' and officers' education, organizing and personally commanding various military exercises.

Raštikis attempted to distance himself and the army from the politics and did not support the ruling Lithuanian Nationalist Union. After the Polish ultimatum of March 1938, Raštikis became Minister of Defense and became increasingly drawn into the political arena. He was one of the negotiators of the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty by which Lithuania regained a portion of Vilnius Region but virtually sacrificed its independence. A conflict with Prime Minister Antanas Merkys led to Raštikis' resignation in April 1940. When the Soviet Union presented its ultimatum in June 1940, he was briefly considered for the Prime Minister role in the new pro-Soviet People's Government. Fearing arrest by NKVD, Raštikis escaped to Nazi Germany.

Raštikis returned to Lithuania when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. He was named Minister of Defense in the short-lived Provisional Government of Lithuania. However, it soon became clear that Germans would not allow Lithuanian autonomy and Raštikis obtained a job organizing army archives at the Lithuanian War Museum. Towards the end of the war, he retreated to Germany and immigrated to United States in 1949. He taught Russian and Lithuanian languages at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Raštikis published a four-volume memoir.

The Holocaust in Lithuania

The Holocaust in German occupied Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian (Litvaks) and Polish Jews, living in Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland within the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian SSR. Out of approximately 208,000–210,000 Jews, an estimated 190,000–195,000 were murdered before the end of World War II (wider estimates are sometimes published), most between June and December 1941. More than 95% of Lithuania's Jewish population was massacred over the three-year German occupation — a more complete destruction than befell any other country affected by the Holocaust. Historians attribute this to the massive collaboration in the genocide by the non-Jewish local paramilitaries, though the reasons for this collaboration are still debated. The Holocaust resulted in the largest-ever loss of life in so short a period of time in the history of Lithuania.The events that took place in the western regions of the USSR occupied by Nazi Germany in the first weeks after the German invasion, including Lithuania, marked the sharp intensification of the Holocaust.An important component to the Holocaust in Lithuania was that the occupying Nazi German administration fanned antisemitism by blaming the Soviet regime's recent annexation of Lithuania, a year earlier, on the Jewish community. Another significant factor was the large extent to which the Nazis' design drew upon the physical organization, preparation and execution of their orders by local Lithuanian auxiliaries of the Nazi occupation regime.

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