The Lithuanian–Soviet War or Lithuanian–Bolshevik War (Lithuanian: karas su bolševikais) was fought between newly independent Republic of Lithuania and the proto-Soviet Union (Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic and Lithuanian–Belorussian SSR) in the aftermath of World War I. It was part of the larger Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919. The offensive followed retreating German troops with aims of incorporating the Baltic states and Poland into the Soviet Union and bring victory to the German Revolution. Soviet Russia and the other Soviet republics were de jure independent entities but were de facto in union, they did not officially unite into the Soviet Union until 1922.
By the end of December 1918 Soviet forces reached Lithuanian borders. Largely unopposed, they took one town after another and by the end of January 1919 controlled about ⅔ of the Lithuanian territory. In February the Soviet advance was stopped by Lithuanian and German volunteers, who prevented the Soviets from capturing Kaunas, the temporary capital of Lithuania. From April 1919 the Lithuanian war went parallel with the Polish–Soviet War. Poland had territorial claims over Lithuania, especially the Vilnius Region, and these tensions spilled over into the Polish–Lithuanian War. Historian Norman Davies summarized the situation: "the German army was supporting the Lithuanian nationalists, the Soviets were supporting the Lithuanian communists and the Polish Army was fighting them all." In mid-May the Lithuanian army, now commanded by General Silvestras Žukauskas, began an offensive against the Soviets in northeastern Lithuania. By mid-June the Lithuanians reached the Latvian border and cornered the Soviets among lakes and hills near Zarasai, where the Soviets held out until the end of August 1919. The Soviets and Lithuanians, separated by the Daugava River, maintained their fronts until the Battle of Daugavpils in January 1920. As early as September 1919 the Soviets offered to negotiate a peace treaty, but talks began only in May 1920. The Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty was signed on July 12, 1920. The Soviet Union fully recognized the independent Republic of Lithuania.
|Part of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence|
Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919
Soviet prisoners of war in a Lithuanian camp. As of December 1, 1919 Lithuanians held 1,773 Soviet soldiers.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Silvestras Žukauskas||Vincas Kapsukas|
8,000 Lithuanians in August 1919
Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire after the final partition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795. During World War I Lithuania was occupied by Germany and made part of Ober Ost. On February 16, 1918 the Council of Lithuania declared independence from both Germany and Russia. Three weeks later, the Bolsheviks, encumbered with the Russian Civil War, sued for peace with the Central Powers and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. They renounced Russian claims to Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. However, the Lithuanians were only allowed minimal autonomy and could not establish de facto independence. That changed when Germany lost the war and signed the Compiègne Armistice on November 11, 1918. Lithuania soon began organizing basic institutions, and established their first government led by Augustinas Voldemaras.
On November 13, 1918, the Soviet Russian government renounced the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which had assured Lithuania's independence. The Bolshevik Western Army followed retreating German troops maintaining a distance of about 10–15 kilometres (6.2–9.3 mi) between the two armies. Demoralized Germans often left valuable armaments and other equipment to the Soviets. The Soviets attempted to spread the global proletarian revolution and sought to establish Soviet republics in the region. They saw Baltic states as a barrier or a bridge into Western Europe, where they could join the German and the Hungarian Revolutions. By the end of December 1918, Bolshevik forces reached eastern Lithuania.
Augustinas Voldemaras, the first Prime Minister of Lithuania, did not believe that forming the military was a priority and advocated Lithuanian neutrality. He trusted that German mercenaries would protect Lithuania until the upcoming Paris Peace Conference could establish peace. Residents organized local self-defense units to defend themselves from retreating Germans. The first laws regarding the army were not issued until November 23. Some Lithuanians, who had served in the Russian army during the World War, returned to Lithuania and started organizing battalions in Kaunas, Hrodna, Alytus. They lacked guns, ammunition, and officers.
At the end of December, with the Bolsheviks already in the country, Lithuania was left leaderless. Augustinas Voldemaras, Antanas Smetona, Chairman of the Council of Lithuania, and Martynas Yčas, Minister of Finance, departed for Germany to ask for financial assistance. General Kiprijonas Kundratavičius, Vice Minister of Defense, suggested a retreat to Hrodna and refused to command the Lithuanian defense. The first Cabinet of Ministers resigned on December 26, 1918. Mykolas Sleževičius stepped in and organized a new government. On December 29, he issued the first mass appeal in four languages calling for volunteers for the Lithuanian Army. Sleževičius government adopted new policy on land reform, which could be summarized in a slogan "land for those who cultivate it." It meant the land would be taken from large landowners and redistributed first to the volunteers for free and then to small peasants for a fee. Mobilization of officers was announced only on January 25; about 400 people responded.
In Berlin, Smetona and Yčas signed a loan agreement with Germany for 100 million marks. The money was used primarily to build and supply the army. They further negotiated direct German support in the war against the Soviets. Article 12 of the Compiègne Armistice required the Germans to protect Lithuania from possible Soviet attacks, but Germany was also interested in maintaining its influence in the region and weakening Russia. At first they tried to organize volunteers from the retreating soldiers of the 10th German Army, commanded by General Erich von Falkenhayn. However, the soldiers were tired and demoralized and wanted to return home as soon as possible. Recruitment continued in Germany, especially in Saxony. The volunteers were paid 30 marks per month plus 5 marks per day and had to sign up for three months. The first Saxon Volunteers, as they became known, arrived to Kaunas at the beginning of January, but quite a few of them were judged unfit for duty and sent back. By the end of January, German volunteers numbered 4,000. They were not very reliable as the German Revolution increased popularity of the Spartacist League and Soviet causes. There were several attempts at a coup against the Lithuanian government. These volunteers were stationed in and around Kaunas: Alytus, Jonava, Kėdainiai, Baisogala.
At first they were organized into the 46th Saxon Volunteer Division. On February 22, Lieutenant-General Walter von Eberhardt became its commander. In April–May German forces were reorganized into the South Lithuania Volunteer Brigade composed of three regiments (18th, 19th, and 20th) and a separate battalion in Raseiniai. The 18th Regiment fought alongside Lithuanians; the 19th Regiment guarded Kaunas area and did not participate in battle; the 20th Regiment was stationed in Hrodna and then in Kėdainiai; the separate battalion joined the Bermontians. The Baltische Landeswehr, led by General Rüdiger von der Goltz, organized a coup against Latvian government and captured Riga. On May 23, the Paris Peace Conference reacting to these events asked Germany to withdraw its troops from both Latvia and Lithuania as soon as local forces could defend themselves. The last Saxon Volunteers left Lithuania in mid-July.
On December 8, 1918, a temporary revolutionary government, chaired by Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas, was formed solely from members of the Communist Party of Lithuania. On December 16, 1918, the revolutionary government declared establishment of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Between December 31, 1918 and January 1, 1919, the German garrison withdrew from Vilnius and passed authority over the city to a local Polish committee, against the pleas of the Lithuanian administration. Polish self-defense units made up of local inhabitants, called Lithuanian and Belarusian Self-Defence, took over the posts. The Lithuanian government withdrew to Kaunas, the temporary capital of Lithuania. On January 5, 1919, Vilnius was taken by the Soviets after a five-day fight with Polish paramilitary platoons led by general Władysław Wejtko. Kapsukas and his government arrived in Vilnius from Daugavpils on January 7. On February 27, the Lithuanian SSR was incorporated into the Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic or Litbel.
In the occupied territory the Soviets created revolutionary committees and soviets based on structures developed in Russia. Unlike elsewhere, Lithuanian communist organizations were young and had not yet developed a network of supporting local councils. They nationalized commercial institutions and large estates. The land was to be used for collective farming instead of being redistributed to small farmers. The Soviet propagated internationalism and atheism in a country of staunch Catholics and determined nationalists. Soviets were supported by the industrial working class, but it was too small in Lithuania. The Soviets demanded large war contributions from captured cities and villages. For example, Panevėžys was required to pay 1,000,000, Utena – 200,000, villagers – 10 rubles. Such policies alienated local population and contributed to the eventual defeat of the Soviets. For example, in February Kapsukas sent a telegram to Moscow arguing that conscription of local Lithuanians to the Red Army would only encourage Lithuanians to volunteer for the Lithuanian army.
Soviet troops (about 18,000–20,000 men) approached the Lithuanian territory on December 12, 1918. About 5,000 of them were Lithuanians. Three divisions were employed: Pskov division (later renamed Lithuanian Division), International Division (later renamed 2nd Latvian Riflemen Division; included 39th, 41st, 47th, and 60th Regiments), and 17th Division (later renamed Western Division; included 5th Vilnius Regiment). The divisions did not have a common military commander. Later more units were sent from Russia. The soviets also recruited partisan groups behind the front lines. Soviet soldiers were poorly supplied and had to support themselves by requisitioning food, horses, and clothes from local residents. Lithuania could not offer serious resistance as at the time its army consisted only of about 3,000 untrained volunteers. Only local partisans, armed with weapons acquired from retreating Germans, offered brief resistance.
Red Army captured one town after another: Zarasai and Švenčionys (Dec. 22), Utena (Dec. 23), Rokiškis (Dec. 27), Vilnius (Jan. 5), Ukmergė and Panevėžys (Jan. 9), Šiauliai (Jan. 15), Telšiai (Jan. 25). That accounted for about ⅔ of the Lithuanian territory. The front somewhat stabilized when Soviet forces were stopped near the Venta River by Latvian and German units (Baltische Landeswehr). Also Germans slowed down withdrawal of their troops after the Spartacist uprising was subdued on January 12. Southern Lithuania was a little better protected as Germans retreated from Ukraine through Hrodna. To prevent fights between retreating Germans and the Red Army, the Soviets and Germans signed a treaty on January 18. The treaty drew a temporary demarcation line that went through Daugai, Stakliškės, and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Kaišiadorys–Jonava–Kėdainiai railway. That barred Bolshevik forces from directly attacking Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city. The Red Army would need to encircle Kaunas and attack through Alytus or Kėdainiai. The operation to take Kaunas began on February 7.
Kėdainiai was attacked by the 2nd Riflemen Regiment of Lithuanian (former Pskov) Division (about 1,000 men). Lithuanian forces from Panevėžys, commanded by Jonas Variakojis, and from Kėdainiai numbered only about 200 men. Lithuanians withstood Red Army advance near Kėdainiai and with German support repelled it. On February 8, during the course of a reconnaissance mission, Povilas Lukšys became the first Lithuanian soldier to die in the war. On February 10, joint Lithuanian and German forces captured Šėta and forced the Red Army to retreat. The success of this operation lifted the Lithuanian army's morale and prevented the Red Army from encircling Kaunas from the north.
On February 9, Soviet 7th Riflemen Regiment (900 men) took over Jieznas, south of Kaunas. The following day Lithuanian forces (300 men) from Prienai and Kaunas attacked before the Red Army could consolidate position, but were betrayed by their Russian commander and suffered a defeat: 18 Lithuanians were killed and 33 were taken prisoners. Lithuanians retreated, were reinforced by new Lithuanian and Saxon Volunteers, attacked again, and took Jieznas on February 13. The Soviets continued to push for Kaunas. The 3rd and 4th Riflemen Regiments (about 2,000 men) attacked Alytus on February 12. Germans did not engage in battle and retreated; not yet fully formed Lithuanian 1st Infantry Regiment could not withstand pressure from the Red Army and had to retreat towards Marijampolė and Prienai. Antanas Juozapavičius, the first Lithuanian officer to die in the wars, was killed during this battle. On the night of February 14–15, German forces and one company of the Lithuanians returned to Alytus and retook the city. Kaunas was defended and the front stabilized for a while. Soviets were ordered to abandon the offensive and maintain defensive position. This break allowed Lithuanians to better organize and train the volunteers.
Northern Lithuania (Samogitia) was overtaken by the Soviet International Division (about 3,000 men). Its objective was to reach the Baltic Sea and cut off German supplies to Latvians in their war against the Soviets. Local communists were more active in northern Lithuania as the shortest route for Russian prisoners to return to Russia was through Samogitia. Their biggest achievement was formation of a 1,000-man Samogitian Regiment, commanded by Feliksas Baltušis-Žemaitis, in the city of Šiauliai. The regiment included Russian POWs, German deserters, and criminals. There were no units of regular Lithuanian army in Samogitia except for partisans in Skuodas, rallied by Povilas Plechavičius and his brother Aleksandras, and in Joniškėlis.
The movement of the Bolsheviks towards East Prussia worried Germany, and they sent volunteers (Brigade Schaulen) commanded by General Rudiger von der Goltz to free a section of the Libau–Romny Railway line linking Liepāja, Mažeikiai, Radviliškis, and Kėdainiai. It was part of a larger counter-offensive in Latvia. At the end of February the Lithuanian partisans, supported by German artillery, took Mažeikiai and Seda, and pursued Bolsheviks to Kuršėnai. On February 27, 1919, German volunteers supported by Plechavičius' partisans and Joniškėlis' partisans, defeated the Samogitian Regiment in a battle near Luokė. The regiment disbanded. Before mid-March the Germans took Kuršėnai, Šiauliai, Radviliškis, Šeduva, Joniškis and stopped. On few occasions they were aided by Lithuanian partisans and regular units. Joniškėlis' partisans continued to guard the front along the Mūša River. They were later incorporated into regular Lithuanian military.
As the Soviet forces were stopped, Lithuanian army slowly began to prepare itself for an offensive. After the Battle of Kėdainiai, Panevėžys volunteer regiment had secured its positions and grew in strength. Between mid-February and end of March it carried out small expeditions into nearby towns. Their main purpose was to demoralize the enemy forces and boost confidence of local residents and Lithuanian volunteers. As a reward for its successful operations, the volunteer regiment was given a name on March 22: the Separate Panevėžys Battalion (Lithuanian: Panevėžio atskirasis batalionas). Demoralization campaign was successful: the Bolshevik forces stationed in Panevėžys and Kupiškis rebelled, and were quelled only by a Red Army Division from neighboring Latvia. The Bolshevik morale underwent deeper declines, and between March 19 and March 24 their forces left Panevėžys. Lithuanian forces entered the city on March 26, but the Red Army retook it on April 4.
The lull between Soviet attacks was used to strengthen and organize the army. On March 5, Lithuanians announced mobilization of men born 1887–1889. Lithuanian forces rapidly increased their numbers. By May 3 the official headcount reached 440 officers and 10,729 privates. However, only about half of them were properly trained, armed, and assigned to military units. In February–April Lithuanian soldiers were actively undergoing training, the chain of command was streamlined, new military units formed. Lithuania also received new shipments of arms and munitions. Soldiers received first uniforms.
The first organized Lithuanian offensive was carried out between April 3 and April 8, 1919. Lithuanians decided to take advantage of large Polish attacks against the Soviets in Hrodna area in order to test enemy strength and capture Vilnius. The southern group, formed on the basis of the 1st Riflemen Regiment and led by Kazys Ladiga, was to attack from Alytus along Daugai–Valkininkai line. The northern group, formed on the basis on the 2nd Riflemen Regiment and led by Juozas Butkus, was to attack from Kaišiadorys along Žasliai–Vievis line. Germans did not participate. Both regiments were initially successful, but Soviets gathered their forces and stopped the advance. As Lithuanian flanks were not defended, they decided to abandon to offensive. Soviets also accused Germans of violating the demarcation line set on January 18 and pressured them to retreat.
Poland started an offensive against the Soviets in March 1919. They pushed east and north, entering Vilnius Region, the territory claimed by Lithuanians. Between April 19 and 21, Poles captured Vilnius during the Vilna offensive and by May secured their positions. The Polish army forced Soviets to withdraw their left wing from territories south of the Neris River. Polish advance significantly shortened the Lithuanian–Soviet front line and allowed Lithuania to concentrate its forces for operations in northeastern Lithuania. However, it also meant that a new front line with Poland was open. At first, both Poles and Lithuanians cooperated against the Soviets, but soon the cooperation gave way to increasing hostility. The first clashes between Polish and Lithuanian soldiers occurred on April 26 and May 8 near Vievis.
Poland did not recognize Lithuania, as its Chief of State Józef Piłsudski wanted a union with Lithuania in hopes to revive the old Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (see Międzymorze federation). Poland justified its actions not only as part of a military campaign against the Soviets but also as the right of self-determination of local Poles, who formed a significant minority in eastern Lithuania. Lithuanians claimed Vilnius as their historical capital and opposed to any federation with Poland, desiring an independent national Lithuanian state. The Lithuanian government in Kaunas saw the Polish presence in Vilnius as occupation. In addition to the Vilnius Region, the nearby Suwałki Region was also disputed. The Polish–Lithuanian relations were not immediately hostile, but grew worse as each side refused to compromise.
Polish advances against the Soviets necessitated changes in Lithuanian strategy. On April 26, General Silvestras Žukauskas, who just recovered from typhus, was designated Chief of Staff. He decided to mount offensive in northeastern Lithuania. The first objective was to take over Ukmergė. On May 3, the Separate Panevėžys Volunteer Regiment, supported by the 18th Regiment of Saxon Volunteers, had secured the town. The operation was risky as for a while Kėdainiai was unprotected opening a path to Kaunas, but also very successful: some 500 Soviets were taken prisoner and about 50 Poles, captured by the Soviets in the battles near Vilnius, were liberated and returned to Poland. On May 7 Lithuanians entered Širvintos, where they found Polish troops. Lithuanians and Poles mounted a joint operation to take Giedraičiai on May 9.
The Lithuanian army's chain of command was reformed. On May 7, General Žukauskas assumed command of the entire Lithuanian army and initiated a complete reorganization of Lithuanian forces into two groups. The first brigade, stationed in Ukmergė, was called the Vilkmergė Group and included a battalion of Saxon Volunteers. Its first commander Kazys Ladiga was ordered to push along the Utena–Zarasai line. The second brigade, called the Panevėžys Group, was charged with capturing Panevėžys and then pushing along the Kupiškis–Rokiškis–Obeliai line. The group, initially commanded by Jonas Variakojis, was aided by Joniškėlis' partisans from the north. The Ministry of Defense and the Staff were also reorganized.
On May 18 the reorganized army carried out its first operation. The Vilkmergė Group captured Kurkliai and Anykščiai. On May 22, the Group launched an attack on Utena. The initiative was met by a Soviet counterattack, and the Lithuanian forces retreated. Further attacks were stopped for several days to wait for the results of the advance on Kupiškis. The drive towards Utena resumed on May 31, and the city was secured on June 2. The Panevėžys Group launched a drive towards Panevėžys on May 18 and secured the city the following day, but lost it to a Bolshevik counterattack, carried out on May 21. However, Soviets left Panevėžys without a fight two days later. The Group charged towards Kupiškis and secured Subačius. On May 30 Joniškėlis' partisans broke through the Soviet lines and took Rokiškis in Soviet rear; Bolshevik forces, afraid that they will encircled, left Kupiškis on the night of May 30–31, and Lithuania secured that city on June 1.
After the capture of Utena, Saxon Volunteers left the front and by mid-July departed from Lithuania. However, Lithuanian advance continued, and on June 10 Lithuanian forces reached the territory controlled by Latvian partisans (Green Guard) and supplied them with munitions. On June 12, the Soviets counterattacked and Lithuanians were stopped. Another Soviet push came on June 20 and the front stabilized. The Soviets were cornered in a small region around Zarasai. Between July 6 and 12, Lithuanians with some Latvian assistance attempted to drive out the Bolsheviks. The Soviets gathered their forces from calmer fronts and forced Lithuanians to retreat to their former positions.
While Lithuanian forces battled the Soviets in northeastern Lithuania, tension between Poland and Lithuania grew. Direct negotiations between May 28 and June 11, 1919 collapsed as neither side was inclined to compromise. Trying to prevent a direct military conflict the Allied Supreme Council drew the first demarcation line on June 18, 1919. The line was drawn several kilometers west of the Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railway. Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected it as it required the Polish forces to retreat up to 30–35 km (19–22 mi); Lithuanians were not content with it as well, as it left Vilnius and Hrodna under Polish control. As German volunteers were departing from Lithuania (their last units left Kaunas in mid-July), Poland mounted an offensive on 100 km (62 mi) wide front moving 20–30 km (12–19 mi) deeper into the Lithuanian territory. Preoccupied with Soviet threat, Lithuania could not organize an effective defense and the Entente intervened again by drawing the second demarcation line, known as the Foch Line, on July 26, 1919. Two major modifications were made: Suwałki Region was assigned to Poland and the entire line was moved about 7 km (4.3 mi) west. Neither Lithuanians, Poles, nor Germans (still present in the Suwałki Region) were content with the new demarcation line. Between July 29 and August 2, Polish troops carried out several attacks against the Lithuanians. On August 3, a Polish diplomatic mission in Kaunas declared that Poland has no plans to annex Lithuania and proposed a plebiscite in the contested territories, allowing local inhabitants to determine their future. When the Lithuanian government rejected the Polish proposal, Józef Piłsudski decided that further military action was not a solution. Instead, the Lithuanian government itself needed to be replaced by a party more willing to negotiate a compromise. The front stabilized, but bilateral relations worsened in the aftermath of the Sejny Uprising (August 23 – September 9) which in turn ruined the attempted coup d'état by the Polish Military Organisation against the Lithuanian government (August 28–29).
Due to threat from Poland, the front with the Soviets was quiet for more than a month. There were minor incidents involving scouts or outpost guards. The Red Army used the time to reorganize and strengthen their forces, using natural barriers, like plentiful lakes, rivers, and hills, enhanced with trenches and barbed wires, to secure their position. They also had fortifications built during World War I about 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Daugavpils. The Soviets had larger forces: Lithuanians had two infantry regiments and five separate battalions; the Soviets had six regiments and one separate battalion. The Lithuanians together with Poles planned to push for Daugavpils starting August 9, but the plans were delayed until August 23.
The Ukmergė Group attacked first and captured Zarasai on August 25. The Group moved about 30 km (19 mi) into the Soviet-controlled territory, but neither its right or left flanks were adequately protected by the Polish units or the Panevėžys Group. The Panevėžys Group began its advance on August 26 and Polish troops moved along the railroad towards Turmantas. The Lithuanians maneuvered around the old Russian fortifications, forcing the Red Army to retreat. Converging on Daugavpils, the Lithuanian–Soviet front shortened and the Lithuanians were able to concentrate their forces. On August 28, the Soviets began retreating north across the Daugava River. By August 31, on the southern shore of the Daugava, the Soviet held only Grīva, a suburb of Daugavpils.
The enemy was driven out from the Lithuanian territory and the narrow front stabilized as Lithuanians and Soviets were separated by the Daugava River. The Lithuanian main forces could be redeployed elsewhere, including protection of the demarcation line with Poland and planned attacks against the Bermontians in northern Lithuania. In September 1919, joint Polish and Latvian forces took the southern shore of Daugava, including Grīva. The Lithuanian–Soviet front remained open until the Battle of Daugavpils when Latvian and Polish forces captured Daugavpils in January 1920. The Lithuanians did not participate in these operations. The Lithuanians claimed the territory, taken by their soldiers, for themselves despite Latvian protests. This led to several skirmishes between Latvian and Lithuanian troops, but the border issue was successfully mediated by Britain and finally resolved in March 1921.
The first Lithuanian–Soviet attempt at negotiations took place on September 11, 1919, after the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs of Soviet Russia, Georgy Chicherin, sent a note with a proposal for a peace treaty. However, Lithuanian delayed the talks as it feared that negotiations with the Soviet Union, which was isolated from European politics, would damage its relationships with the Allied Powers that had not yet recognized Lithuania. The talks began only in May 1920 and were highly influenced by the events in the Polish–Soviet War. Russia recognized Lithuania's independence and its right to the Vilnius Region; in exchange Lithuania granted Soviet forces unrestricted movement during the war against Poland. This compromised Lithuania's declared neutrality and further deepened the Polish–Lithuanian crisis.
On July 14, 1920 the Soviets captured Vilnius, but did not transfer the city to Lithuanian administration, as agreed in the treaty. Instead Soviets planned a coup to overthrow Lithuanian government and establish a Soviet republic. However, Soviets lost the Battle of Warsaw and were pushed back by the Poles. Some historians credit this victory for saving Lithuania's independence from the Soviet coup. Despite the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty, Lithuania was very close to being invaded by the Soviets in summer 1920 and being forcibly incorporated into the Soviet state, and only the Polish victory derailed this plan. On August 26, the Red Army left Vilnius and Lithuanians prepared to defend their borders as they were drawn in the treaty. This led to further hostilities with Poland as it did not recognize the treaty. Eventually Lithuania lost the Vilnius Region during the Żeligowski's Mutiny which resembled to the Soviet's plan. When mediation at League of Nations failed to change the situation, Lithuania and Poland were suspended in the state of "no war, no peace" until the Polish ultimatum of 1938. During all this time, the Soviet Union was Lithuania's strongest ally against Poland.
As for the result, several historians credit Lithuania had faced two enemies who wish to paint their own desires for its own interests, in which later the Poles, instead of the Soviets, took Vilnius away from Lithuania.
The Battle of Batin took place on 9 September 1810 near the small town of Batin, north Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish War of 1806 to 1812. The conflict involved an attack by Russian forces on a defensive position held by a numerically stronger Ottoman Turk force. The outcome was a Russian victory which enabled their ongoing Balkan campaign to proceed unhindered.Index of Lithuania-related articles
The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to Lithuania.Jakub Wygodzki
Jakub Wygodzki (1856–1941; Lithuanian: Jokūbas Vygodskis, Hebrew: יעקב ויגודסקי) was a Polish–Lithuanian Jewish politician, Zionist activist and a medical doctor. He was one of the most prominent Jewish activists in Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno).
Wygodzki was born to a family of Hasidic Jews. His family moved to Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno) in 1860 where his father was a merchant, supplying the local garrison of the Imperial Russian Army with clothes. He was the eldest of seven brothers and received traditional Jewish education at a cheder. He studied at Marijampolė Gymnasium and Imperial Military Medical Academy in Saint Petersburg. He was arrested for anti-Tsarist activities and involvement with a revolutionary group. Later he studied medicine in Vienna, Berlin, Paris. In 1884, he returned to Vilnius and established his practice as gynecologist and pediatrician. He published medical articles in Russian and German journals.He joined Jewish cultural and political life. He was one of the first Zionist activist in Vilnius and chaired their organization. In 1905, he was one of the founding members of the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets) in Vilnius Region. In 1908, he established and chaired the Union of Jewish Doctors. During World War I, he was a member of a Jewish relief committee and established daily Yiddish newspaper Flugblat. For anti-German protests, he was arrested by the German police in March 1917 and imprisoned in the Czersk POW camp until April 1918.He supported Lithuanian independence, and together with Nachmanas Rachmilevičius and Simon Yakovlevich Rosenbaum was co-opted to the Council of Lithuania on December 11, 1918. The same day he became the first Lithuanian Minister for Jewish Affairs. He held the post briefly as he did not evacuate Vilnius with the rest of the government at the start of the Lithuanian–Soviet War. He was briefly imprisoned by the Bolsheviks.In 1919, when Poland captured Vilnius, Wygodzki was chairman of the Jewish community in the city. He opposed the Żeligowski's Mutiny and the Republic of Central Lithuania and urged people to boycott the elections in 1922. Nevertheless, he accepted the situation and became a member of the Bloc of National Minorities and was elected to the Polish parliament (Sejm) in 1922 and 1928. In the Sejm, Wygodzki worked to improve Jewish education in Hebrew and Yidish languages. He was also a member of the Vilnius Council from 1919 to 1929.Wygodzki contributed to the press, publishing his articles in Tsayt, Vilner Tog, Haynt, Nasz Przegląd, and others. He published three books of his memoirs: In shturm (In the Storm; 1921) on the German occupation during World War I; In gehenom (In Hell; 1927) on his imprisonment by the Germans; and In Sambatyon (1931) on his activities in the Sejm.After the invasion of Poland in September 1940, Wygodzki organized relief for the Jewish refugees. In June 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union and occupied the city. Wygodzki joined the pre-ghetto Judenrat on July 24. He was arrested at the end of August and died in the Lukiškės Prison.Jieznas
Jieznas (pronunciation ) is a small city in the Prienai district municipality, Lithuania. It is located 16 km (9.9 mi) east of Prienai along the northern shores of Lake Jieznas.Jonas Variakojis
Jonas Variakojis (May 5, 1892 near Rinkuškiai, Lithuania – October 31, 1963 in St. Charles, Illinois, United States) was a Lithuanian army officer.
Variakojis was studying law at the University of St. Petersburg when he was mobilized into the Russian army and sent to the Austrian front during World War I. In December 1918 he returned to Lithuania and joined the newly organized Lithuanian army, preparing to defend Lithuania against the Red Army during the Lithuanian–Soviet War. Variakojis was ordered to organize defense of Panevėžys district. On February 7, 1919, he led the first Lithuanian battles against the Soviets near Kėdainiai. The Soviet advance was stopped, preventing them from capturing Kaunas, the temporary capital of Lithuania.
Variakojis and his unit, which later evolved into the 4th Infantry Regiment, continued to combat the Soviets. They were also deployed against Poland during the Polish–Lithuanian War. For his distinguished services during the Lithuanian Wars of Independence, he was awarded several military orders, including the Order of the Cross of Vytis. In 1926, he retired from active military duty. Between 1928 and 1930, he briefly served of Minister of Communications and Minister of Defense. At the end of World War II, he retreated to Germany and then immigrated to the United States, where he died in 1963.Kazimierz Cichowski
Kazimierz Cichowski (Russian: Kazimir Tsikhovsky, Казимир Генрихович Циховский) (7 December 1887 in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Radom Governorate – 29 October 1937) was a Polish-Soviet communist activist and politician, Bolshevik, member of the Polish Sejm, nobleman. Along with Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas, he played important role in establishing the Soviet regime in Lithuania and Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Cichowski joined the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania in 1907. In 1907-09 he studied at the University of Liege and in 1910-13 Sorbonne University.During the Russian Revolution, he joined the Bolshevik party and from November 1917 he was the deputy Commissar for Polish affairs of the Central Executive Committee of the Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (LitBel), where he soon advanced to more prominent positions (Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets). Following the Bolshevik Coup, in December 1917 Cichowski became a deputy People's Commissar of Nationalities for Polish affairs within the Russian Sovnarkom. (Note: Commissariat of Nationalities was led by Joseph Stalin.) In September 1918 he became a member of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Lithuania.In 1919 Cichowski was a member of the Lithuanian Provisional Revkom led by Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas. Cichowski also was a chairman of the Vilnius City council and a teacher at the Vilnius Communist School. From 27 February 1919 to 31 July 1920 Cichowski served as a chairman of Central Executive Committee of the Lithuanian–Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During that time he also was a member of the Central Committee of Communist Party (bolsheviks) of Lithuania and Belorussia, People's Commissar of Agriculture (May–July), and member of Defense Council of LitBel. In July – September 1919, possibly under surname of Tikhovskiy, he was a chairman the Minsk city executive committee (ispolkom), which serves as a city governor in Belarus. As the Soviet government was "losing grip" on Lithuania during the 1919–20 Lithuanian–Soviet War, in 1919 Cichowski joined the Russian Bolsheviks Smolensk Governorate Committee becoming a member of the Russian Western Front Political detachment (Politotdel, politruk) and editing the newspaper "Kommunist".After the end of the Lithuanian–Soviet War in 1920 (see, Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty), which saw the dissolution of LitBel, he became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine, operating in the Second Polish Republic. In 1923 Cichowski was imprisoned by the Polish authorities to three years; after early release, in 1925 he joined the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland, becoming a member of its secretariat and the Political Bureau and in 1927–29 he was a secretary of communist faction in the Polish Sejm. In 1929 Cichowski was arrested again and in 1930 convicted to 8 years in jail. In 1932 he was exchanged.In September 1932, he returned to the Soviet Union where he began working in the Comintern (ECCI) at its executive committee human resources.During the Spanish Civil War around January–July 1937, he was in Spain where he was head of the Cadres Department of the International Brigades headquarters. In August 1937, Cichowski was recalled to Moscow, arrested in October or 21 August during the Great Purge, convicted and shot.Kazys Ladiga
Kazys Ladiga (25 December 1893 in Iškonys near Biržai – 19 December 1941 in Irkutsk) was a Lithuanian general and one of the first volunteer officers of the Lithuanian army.
Upon graduating from the Military Academy in Vilnius, Ladiga served in the Imperial Russian army during World War I and earned the rank of captain. He returned to Lithuania in 1918 and volunteered to the newly formed Lithuanian army. He was appointed as the commander of one of the battalions of the 1st Infantry Regiment. Ladiga quickly rose through the ranks and commanded the Vilkmergė Group in the Lithuanian–Soviet War. He also led units against the Bermontians and in the Polish–Lithuanian War. After an unsuccessful campaign in September 1920, Ladiga resigned field office and joined the General Staff in Kaunas. After the Lithuanian Wars of Independence he continued military studies in Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. He rose to the rank of a general and briefly served as the Chief of the General Staff in 1925–1926. He was forced to retire from active military duty after the military coup of December 1926.
When Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940, Ladiga was arrested and sentenced to death. He was executed while being transported to Siberia, aged 47.List of wars involving Lithuania
This is a list of military conflicts in which Lithuanian military forces participated.Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (1918–19)
The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (LSSR) was a short-lived Soviet republic declared on December 16, 1918, by a provisional revolutionary government led by Vincas Mickevičius-Kapsukas. It ceased to exist on February 27, 1919, when it was merged with the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia to form the Lithuanian–Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Litbel). While efforts were made to represent the LSSR as a product of a socialist revolution supported by local residents, it was largely a Moscow-orchestrated entity created to justify the Lithuanian–Soviet War. As a Soviet historian, adhering to official propaganda, put it: "The fact that the Government of Soviet Russia recognized a young Soviet Lithuanian Republic unmasked the lie of the USA and British imperialists that Soviet Russia allegedly sought rapacious aims with regard to the Baltic countries." Lithuanians generally did not support Soviet causes and rallied for their own national state, declared independent on February 16, 1918, by the Council of Lithuania.Lithuanian partisans (disambiguation)
The Lithuanian partisans can refer to various irregular military units in different historical periods active in Lithuania against foreign invaders and occupiers:
Lithuanian partisans, organized and uniformed Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance active 1944–1953, and in several occasions later on
Lithuanian guerrilla troops during the Lithuanian–Soviet War
Lithuanian irregular military troops during the Polish–Lithuanian War
Lithuanian partisans (1941), collective name of several unrelated groups
Irregular military units formed by Lithuanian Jews during World War II (see also: Jewish partisans)
Soviet partisans during World War II acting in Eastern LithuaniaMuscovite–Volga Bulgars war (1376)
The Muscovite-Volga Bulgars War of 1376 was organized by Russian Prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow, and Dmitry Konstantinovich of Vladimir-Suzdal. The Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod combined army was led by Moscow Governor Dmitry Mikhailovich Bobrok Volynskyy, and sons Dmitry Suzdal Vasily and Ivan. Volga Bulgaria, which was at the time an ulus of the Golden Horde (who had converted to Islam in 1313), was ruled by emir Hassan Khan (in Russian chronicles - Assan) and Horde Protégé Muhammad Sultan (Sultan Mahmat).Narva culture
Narva culture or eastern Baltic (c. 5300 to 1750 BC) was a European Neolithic archaeological culture found in present-day Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast (former East Prussia), and adjacent portions of Poland, Belarus and Russia. A successor of the Mesolithic Kunda culture, Narva culture continued up to the start of the Bronze Age. The technology was that of hunter-gatherers. The culture was named after the Narva River in Estonia.Perloja
Perloja is a village in Varėna district, Lithuania. It is situated 19 km (12 mi) to the west from Varėna on the banks of Merkys River and on the Vilnius–Druskininkai road. The village is known for the so-called Republic of Perloja, an independent micronation that was established in the aftermath of World War I and existed until 1923. According to the 2001 census, it had 774 inhabitants.Polish–Lithuanian War
The Polish–Lithuanian War was an armed conflict between newly independent Lithuania and Poland in the aftermath of World War I. The conflict primarily concerned territorial control of the Vilnius Region, including Vilnius, and the Suwałki Region, including the towns of Suwałki, Augustów, and Sejny. The conflict was largely shaped by the progress in the Polish–Soviet War and international efforts to mediate at the Conference of Ambassadors and later the League of Nations. There are major differences in Polish and Lithuanian historiography regarding treatment of the war. According to Lithuanian historians, the war was part of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence and spanned from spring 1919 to November 1920. According to Poland, the war included only fighting over the Suwałki Region in September–October 1920 and was part of the Polish–Soviet War.
In April 1919, Poland captured Vilnius and came in contact with the Lithuanian Army fighting in the Lithuanian–Soviet War. Faced with a common enemy, the Polish–Lithuanian relations were not immediately hostile. Poland hoped to persuade Lithuania to join some kind of Polish–Lithuanian union (see the Międzymorze federation), which Lithuania saw as loss of independence to Polish federalism. As bilateral relations worsened, the Entente drew two demarcation lines in hopes to stall further open hostilities. The lines did not please anyone and were ignored. When a Polish coup against the Lithuanian government failed in August 1919, the front stabilized until summer 1920.
In July 1920, Poland was losing the Polish–Soviet War and was in full retreat. The Lithuanians followed retreating Polish troops to secure the territory, assigned to Lithuania by the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty. The Soviets were the first to enter Vilnius. However, once Poland achieved a major victory in the Battle of Warsaw and forced the Soviets to retreat in August 1920, the Lithuanians were forced to defend their newly adjusted borders, which the Polish government did not recognize as valid. Fighting broke out in the Suwałki Region. During the Battle of the Niemen River, Poland attacked Lithuania on a wide front. The battle drastically altered the military situation and left Vilnius open to an attack. Under pressure from the League of Nations, Poland signed the Suwałki Agreement on October 7, 1920. The agreement drew a new demarcation line, which was incomplete and did not provide protection to Vilnius.
On October 8, 1920, Polish general Lucjan Żeligowski staged a mutiny among Polish troops and marched on Vilnius to "defend the right of self-determination of local Poles." The mutiny was planned and authorized by Polish chief of state Józef Piłsudski. Żeligowski's forces captured Vilnius, but further advances were stopped by the Lithuanian troops. Żeligowski proclaimed creation of the Republic of Central Lithuania with capital in Vilnius. On November 29, a ceasefire was signed. The prolonged mediation by the League of Nations did not change the situation and status quo was accepted in 1923. The Republic of Central Lithuania was incorporated into Poland as the Wilno Voivodeship in 1922. Lithuania did not recognize these developments and continued to claim Vilnius as its constitutional capital. There were no diplomatic relations between Poland and Lithuania until the Polish ultimatum of 1938.Russian conquest of Bukhara
The Russian conquest of Bukhara was a series of wars, invasions, and the subsequent conquest of the Central Asian Emirate of Bukhara by the Russian Empire.Soviet westward offensive of 1918–19
The Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919 was part of the campaign by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic into areas abandoned by the Ober Ost garrisons that were being withdrawn to Germany following that country's defeat in World War I. The initially successful offensive against the Republic of Estonia ignited the Estonian War of Independence which ended with the Soviet recognition of Estonia. The war against Republics of Latvia and Lithuania was more successful for the Soviets, and resulted in the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics being established. In Belarus, the Belarusian People's Republic was conquered and the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia proclaimed.
The campaign eventually bogged down and led to the Estonian Pskov Offensive, the White Russian Petrograd Offensives, the Lithuanian–Soviet War, the Latvian War of Independence, continuation of the Ukrainian–Soviet War and the start of the Polish-Soviet War.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.Tiesa
Tiesa (English: truth) was the official daily newspaper in the Lithuanian SSR. Established in 1917, the newspaper soon became the official voice of the Communist Party of Lithuania. After the Lithuanian victory in the Lithuanian–Soviet War, the party and the newspaper were outlawed in Lithuania. Therefore, it was first printed in exile and later illegally in Kaunas. Tiesa survived irregular publishing schedules, frequent relocations, staff changes, and other difficulties and, after the Soviet occupation of Lithuania in June 1940, became the official daily of the new communist regime. At its peak, its circulation exceeded 300,000 copies. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tiesa lost its official status and its circulation shrunk. The publication was discontinued in 1994.Walter von Eberhardt
Lieutenant-General Friedrich Wilhelm Magnus Heinrich Walter von Eberhardt (7 January 1862 in Berlin - 7 January 1944 in Wernigerode), generally known as Walter von Eberhardt, was a German military commander during World War I and the Lithuanian–Soviet War of 1918-19. He was the son of later Prussian Major general Heinrich von Eberhardt (1821–1899). His older brothers also made career in the Prussian army. Magnus (1855–1939) raised till General of Infantry, Gaspard von Eberhardt (1858–1928) to Lieutenant general.
Notably, he was the first inspector of the flying troops (Idflieg) from 1913 to 1914. In 1930 Unserere Luftstreitkräfte 1914-1918 was published under the editorship of von Eberhardt.