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THE INTERSECTION OF DIFFERENT NARRATIVES: THE HOLOCAUST, THE JUNE UPRISING AND THE PARTISAN WAR

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Abstract

The Holocaust, the Lithuanian anti-soviet uprising of June, 1941 (further on, the Uprising), and the Lithuanian partisan war of 1944-1953 are three events caused by different circumstances. They have no direct causal relationship and represent very different phenomena. Unfortunately, the historical reality scenes of Lithuania during the Second World War linking the Holocaust, the Uprising and the partisan war ruthlessly twisted these differently treated phenomena – collaboration with the occupants and resistance to them...
The Intersection of Different
Narratives: the Holocaust,
the June Uprising and
the Partisan War
Dainius Noreika
Vilnius University,
Faculty of History
Universiteto str. 7, LT-01513 Vilnius
E-mail: noreikadainius@yahoo.com
PROBLEM
e Holocaust, the Lithuanian anti-soviet uprising of June, 1941 (further on, the Uprising), and the Lithuanian
partisan war of 1944-1953 are three events caused by dierent circumstances. ey have no direct causal relation-
ship and represent very dierent phenomena. e Holocaust is a case of the most brutal crime against humanity.
e initiator and organizer of the Holocaust, the National Socialist regime, is the case of a political system that
mobilized signicant state and society resources for the implementation of totalitarian goals based on racist ide-
ology. Inhabitants of the occupied countries (including Lithuanians) who collaborated with the Nazis reect the
image of cooperation with the occupants typical of all wars and armed conicts. e Uprising and the partisan
war represent the phenomena of a dierent nature: both of them were individual processes of the struggles for
independence from the totalitarian soviet regime, whereas the people involved were freedom ghters.
Unfortunately, the historical reality scenes of Lithuania during the Second World War linking the
Holocaust, the Uprising and the partisan war ruthlessly twisted these dierently treated phenomena – collab-
oration with the occupants and resistance to them. e occupation of Lithuania in June 1940, and the initiated
annexation processes created a favorable environment for various forms of collaboration and resistance. e
intensity scales of both phenomena encompassed various conditions ranging from voluntary collaborative
initiative to passive reconciliation with the new reality; from patient attitudes of internal opposition to open
armed resistance. Between the poles of extreme choices there was also a space in which actions contradicted
beliefs and beliefs contradicted actions. Collaboration and resistance was oen interrelated, sometimes even
in the activities of the same person. During the Uprising, the restoration of Lithuanian statehood was an-
nounced; however, aer the German occupation, the Lithuanian eorts to restore local government, ensure
its protection, and to establish the Lithuanian military force once again began to overlap with collaboration.
Collaboration manifested not only in establishment the Nazi occupational administration and the economic
exploitation of the land, but also in participation in the crimes of the regime, including the Holocaust.
Professional historical research of the last two decades1 has conrmed Raul Hilberg’s claim that there
were no genuinely spontaneous pogroms free from Einsatzgruppen’s (Operational groups (D.N.) of German
Security Police and Security Service (SD)) inuence2 in Lithuania and other territories of Eastern Europe
occupied by the Wehrmacht. However, anti-Semitic attacks and mass killings were mostly preformed by Lith-
1 A. Bubnys, Vokiečių okupuota Lietuva (1941–1944), Vilnius, 1998, p. 190–208; Ch. Dieckman, S. Sužiedėlis, Lietuvos žydų persekio-
jimas ir masinės žudynės 1941 m. vasarą ir rudenį
=
e Persecution and Mass Murder of Lithuanian Jews During Summer and Fall of
1941, Vilnius, 2006, p. 14, 44.
2 R. Hilberg, e Destruction of the European Jews, 1985, vol. 1, p. 312.
241 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
uanians, some of whom were former or future ghters against the soviet occupation, i.e. the members of the
Uprising and/ or partisans.
e fact that some anti-soviet ghting units which formed during the Uprising were involved in the
mass killings by the Nazis is not new3. However, this does not mean that all former rebels were murderers.
e partisan unit of Salakas County in Zarasai district which was founded on June 22 and participated in the
Uprising until the end of August consisted of 155 members4. However, in August, when the unit was used for
the killing of civilians (victims: “3 Lithuanians, 26 Russians, and 110 Jews5), it consisted of 53 members6. Only
a group of approximately 10 people, referred to as the “striking force, carried out arrests and shootings7. For
comparison, out of 22 partisans8 of the Stelmužė unit, only 4 were shooting people9. ere were 10 members10
in the Kiviškiai unit, 7 of whom were involved in the massacre11.
In August-September 1941, the Lithuanian units of self-defence were reformed into police structures
subordinate to the occupational regime. Aer 1944, part of the former members of self-defence units and
policemen who worked for the occupational Nazi regime became partisans. It is estimated that about 35%
of all partisan commanders (members of the Council of the Lithuanian Freedom Fight Movement, heads of
regions and districts) served in the Nazi-dependent police structures12. In 1944-1945, 18-21% of all members
in partisan formations of Northeast Lithuania (Zarasai, Rokiškis, and Utena districts) came from the former
Nazi dependant self-defence units, municipal and auxiliary police13. Some partisans who in the years of the
Nazi occupation served in the police structures not only maintained public order or fought against the soviet
partisans, but also participated in the Holocaust process. For example, it was found that in 1941, chief of the
partisan military district Juozas Krištaponis, chief of the partisan company Stasys Čėpla-Vilkas, chiefs of parti-
san units Juozas Ūselis-Pakalnis and Edvardas Guoga-Glaudys arrested civilians, mostly Jews, and transported
them to the places of killing when serving in the 2nd police battalion14.
e situation described shows several tende cies: a) part of the rebels and partisans who fought for
Lithuania’s freedom collaborated with the Nazi regime (ser ved in the security forces and the police subordinate
to the Nazi command); some of them participated in mass massacres initiated by the regime; b) on the other
hand, the Nazi collaborators, in particular the ones who murdered people, constituted a small part of all rebels
and even a smaller proportion of partisans; c) participation of the same person in the Holocaust, the Uprising
and the partisan war are separate phenomena of a dierent nature, revealing the complexity of the processes
of the time, as well as showing that the same person at dierent times could acquire the roles of collaborator
and freedom ghter.
Unfortunately, such facts and considerations are largely alien to both the Holocaust research and the
writings on the Lithuanian armed anti-soviet resistance. Discussions on the involvement of rebels and parti-
sans in the massacre of the Jews and collaboration with the Nazis are oen aected by ideological evaluation.
For example, in dierent texts, anti-communist ghters are either identied with the murderers of the Jews or
are completely isolated from this problematic context. In both cases, the facts do not really play a decisive role.
3 A. Bubnys, Holokaustas Lietuvos provincijoje 1941 m.: žydų žudynės Kauno apskrityje, Genocidas ir rezistencija, 2002, Nr. 2(12), p.
81–103; A. Bubnys, Holokaustas Alytaus apskrityje, Genocidas ir rezistencija, 2012, No. 1(31), p. 32–62.
4 D. Noreika, Šauliai, Birželio sukilimas ir partizaninis karas: Šiaurės rytų Lietuvos atvejis, Lituanistica, 2015, T. 16, No. 3(101), p. 234.
5 1941 08 18 Rapport of chief of Salakas defence unit No. 9, Lithuanian Central State Archives (further on, LC VA ), f. R-1106, ap. 2, b. 14,
l. 4.
6 1941 08 List of Salakas defence unit members, LCVA, f. R-1106, ap. 2, b. 1, l. 15–17.
7 1948 06 22 Evidence of Stasys Narkūnas, Lithuanian Special Archives (further on, LYA), f. K-1, ap. 58, b. 11283/3, l. 23–24.
8 1941 08 List of Stelmužė defence unit members, LC VA , f. R-1106, ap. 2, b. 1, l. 15.
9 1941 08 Act of used ammunition by Stelmužė defence unit, LCVA, f. R-1106, ap. 2, b. 2, l. 5.
10 1941 08 List of Kiviškiai defence unit members, LCVA, f. R-1106, ap. 2, b. 1, l. 9.
11 1941 09 14 A list of Kiviškiai defence unit members who participated in the extermination of the Jews, LC VA, f. R-1106, ap. 2, b. 2, l. 3.
12 E. Žilytė, Partizanų vadų kolektyvinė biograja, Lietuvos istorijos studijos, 2016, T. 38, p. 84–112.
13 D. Noreika, Nuo Lietuvos šaulių iki miško brolių: lokalios ginkluotos struktūros raidos tyrimas, Genocidas ir rezistencija, 2012, No.
2(32), p. 50; D. Noreika, Šauliai, Birželio sukilimas ir partizaninis karas: Šiaurės rytų Lietuvos atvejis, Lituanistica, 2015, T. 16, Nr.
3(101), p. 228.
14 A. Rukšėnas,
Kauno tautinio darb o apsaugos, 2-ojo pagalbinės policijos tarnybos batalionų karių kolektyvinė biograja, daktaro
disertacija, Klaipėda–Vilnius, 2013,
p. 217, 359, 362, 373.
242 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
An additional obstacle to the critical and objective consideration of participation in the Holocaust and the
anti-soviet struggle is an assumption accepted by both mentioned ideologized perspectives that the murderers
of the Jews were dehumanized individuals from the margins of society of those times15. Was it really so and
what are the possibilities of overcoming the divide proposed by the two perspectives?
HOW DID PARTISANS BECOME KILLERS?
“e “Death Dealer” of Kaunas: Juozas Luksa” is the title of one of the chapters of the doctoral dissertation de-
fended last year in the United States of America16. Juozas Lukša, a well known Lithuanian partisan leader under
the code names of Daumantas, Skirmantas and others, has become one of the main heroes of this research,
which analyzes how the Western states, especially their intelligence, used ex-Nazis and their collaborators in
the confrontation with the USSR during the Cold War. e author David Albanese claims that Lukša, a Nazi
collaborator, a member of the Lithuanian Activist Front which organized the Uprising, a participant of the
mass killing of the Jews in the yard of the Lietūkis garage in Kaunas on June 27, 1941, became an important
gure in anti-soviet resistance during the aer-war period, a very convenient collaborator with the US Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA), and today is seen as a model hero for Lithuanians who strengthen their national
identity. As Albanese claims, the CIA decision to choose “lesser evil”, i.e. collaboration with the criminal Lukša
was conditioned by the circumstances of the Cold War. However, according to the author, the heroisation of
Lukša in present-day Lithuania demonstrates the problem of value prioritization, probably determined by the
“post-communist country’s baggage” 17.
Albanese is right. Personal patriotism, eorts to achieve political independence of the nation or any
other merit cannot become indulgence for the crimes committed against humanity, and biography cannot be
constructed by selectively removing unpleasant records. us, particularly these author’s statements should
be given a considerable attention. However, the discussion of Lukša’s collaboration with the Nazis and his
participation in the massacres of the Jews is not grounded. e evidence used to support these claims actually
discredits them. e author refers to a book edited by Russian propagandist Alexander Dyukov18 and a photo
of an unidentied person with a bar or a club posing in the background of the murdered victims19. First, the
informational source is of doubtful quality, second, there are evident anatomical dierences between the killer
of the Jews in the photo and Lukša. ese fallacies may result because of the lack of professionalism or a ten-
dentious approach. However, it is more likely that the author simply followed an estabished historiographical
tradition, which emphasizes a strong association of the Lithuanian partisans with the killers of the Jews; thus
authors conducting new research do not even try to verify this paradigm20.
Similar tendencies are also seen in publicistic and popular science texts which have a signicantly wider
dissemination in comparison to academic research. Robert van Voren’s book published in the Netherlands and
Lithuania several years ago is one of the best examples of indierence to the credibility of the facts. e author
identies the anti-soviet activities of Lithuanians with the Nazi attitudes, the post-war partisans are mentioned
only in the context of the murdering of the Jews, the Uprising of June 1941 is associated with the Lithuanian
Activist Front, whereas the latter – with the Nazis21. In addition, the post-war partisans are attributed the blame
not only for the participation in the Holocaust, but also for forgetting this fact. It is claimed that because of the
threatening of the “forest brothers” even those pe ople who were saving the Jews from repressions were afraid to
15 D. Noreika, Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2017, Nr. 4, p. 39
–40
.
16 D. Albanese, In Search of a Lesser Evil: Anti-Soviet Nationalism and the Cold War [doctoral dissertation]. Boston: Northeastern Uni-
versity, 2016, p. 222–252.
17 Ibid., p. 251.
18 Великая оболганная война-2. Нам не за что каяться! ред.
Александр
Дюков, Москва: Яуза, Эксмо, 2008.
19 D. Albanese, In Search of a Lesser Evil: Anti-Soviet Nationalism and the Cold War [doctoral dissertation]. Boston: Northeastern Uni-
versity, 2016, p. 222–252.
20 D. Noreika, Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2017, Nr. 4, p. 39
–46
.
21 R. van Voren, Undigested past: the Holocaust in Lithuania, Amsterdam, 2011, p. 66–72; R. van Voren, Neįsisavinta praeitis: Holokaustas
Lietuvoje. Kaunas, 2011, p. 66–72.
243 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
admit what they did22. Other factual problems are seen in the description of the liquidation of the Local Force
(Vietinė rinktinė): “Of the 13,000 troops that were to be demobilized, only some 3,500 did so. Most of the others
ed to the forest with their arms and many of these formed the core of the partisan forces ghting the Soviets
until well into the 1950s. e tragedy is that among those who bravely fought against the Soviet oppressor,
were those who also actively participated in the killing of Jews23. It is questioned why the murdering of the
Jews is attributed to the Local Force, which had nothing to do with it? Probably these accusations are made
only because of the fact that the Local Force was formed during the Nazi occupation. It is interesting why the
fact that the period of existence of the Local Force and the peak of the massacre of the Jews did not coincide
chronologically does not receive the author’s attention. Obviously, there were people in the Local Force who
formerly participated in the massacres or pogroms of the Jews and later became partisans, however, this nu-
anced interpretation is not reected in the text.
An analogous pathway of factual errors is seen in the book of Rūta Vanagaitė and Efraim Zuro, which
has received signicant media and public attention24. Despite the loud announcement of the new approach to
the problem in question, the authors traditionally do not make a distinction between the Lithuanian anti-so-
viet resistance, aspirations for the restoration of independence and crimes against humanity. e Lithuanian
Activist Front, the Lithuanian National Socialist Party, the Uprising, the Provisional Government, the Lithu-
anian administration, the Catholic Church, the Laymen Council, the units of Defence of National Work and
Rollkommando Hamann, and the Special Squad of Vilnius are all treated equally as criminal structures. e
attention of the reader is captured not by the details of historical context, but by emotionally stirring excerpts
from interrogation protocols or testimonies of contemporary witnesses25.
e basic idea of one of the most recent works on the discussed topic by Arkadijus Vinokūras that “the
children of executioners are not guilty of their parents’ crimes”26 has been realized in an actually innovative
way (by publishing thirty ve conversations with the children and relatives of the murders of the Jews or oth-
ers involved in the genocide). e author’s introduction to the book reects sensitive and profound thoughts.
However, when discussing the question of unreasonable “worshiping of post-war ‘heroes’27, the author recalls
the biography of one of the organizers of the anti-soviet underground, Jonas Noreika-General and expresses
his personal view on the topic by using a quote from an internet portal: “(Y)es, Jonas Noreika fought against
the Russians. Did not we all ght against the Russians? Jonas Noreika did what many Lithuanians did, but he
also organized the Jewish ghetto which led to the killing of thousands of our Lithuanian citizens. He arrested
the unsuspecting Lithuanian citizens who were busy with their daily work. He ordered the conscation of their
property, he robbed them and prepared for destruction. Stalin behaved likewise”28. However, it is interesting
why the author himself does not discuss the topic of the former cooperation of Lithuanian partisans with
the Nazi. ere are no attempts to discuss the historical context or critically evaluate the sources. Instead, an
incompetent opinion devoid of the mentioned elements is chosen as evidence. To illustrate, a professional
research of Alfredas Rukšėnas has revealed that Noreika was not an initiator or organizer of the mass killings,
which were performed by the operational groups of the Nazi Security Police. Noreika did not arrest the victims,
because this was done by the members of Lithuanian police. When Noreika received a post in the adminis-
tration of Šiauliai district, the ghetto of Žagarė was already established. On August 22, 1941, being the head
of Šiauliai district, Noreika passed an order of Šiauliai Region Commissioner Hans Gewecke for the chiefs
of rural districts and small town burgomasters on the transfer of the district’s Jews to the Žagarė ghetto. He
also organized the expropriation of the Jewish property to the county’s administration29. Noreika was a Nazi
22 Ibid., p. 173.
23 Ibid., p. 113.
24 R. Vanagaitė, Mūsiškiai, Vilnius: Alma litera, 2016, p. 48–103.
25 For more detailes see: N. Šepetys, Jūsiškiai – mums ne mūsiškiai, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2016, No. 2, p. 10–16.
26 A. Vinokūras, Mes nežudėme, Vilnius, 2017, p. 11.
27 Ibid., p. 29.
28 Ibid., p. 30.
29 A. Rukšėnas, Jono Noreikos-Generolo Vėtros biograjos kontroversijos, Genocidas ir rezistencija, 2016, No, 1(39), p. 39–64.
244 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
collaborator and participant of the part of the Holocaust process; however, a collaborator and a murderer is
not one and the same.
Where does this tradition of historical texts represented by these works come from? ere are two
possible sources. First, during the Second World War, a viewpoint was formed which divided the world into
two blocs: the Axis powers and the anti-Hitler coalition. In this two-pillar structure, a certain place was given
for various partisans: the soviet-communist partisans were perceived as an appendage of the anti-Hitler coa-
lition, whereas the Lithuanian partisans, the participants of the Uprising, the members of the Local Force and
the Fatherland Defence Force, and the scouts of the Lithuanian Freedom Army who were trained in Germany
were categorized as pro-Nazi subjects. is perspective became established in the post-war period, and, for a
long time, there was neither academic interest nor favorable political situation for more explicit exploration of
the above-mentioned phenomena30.
e historical context of post-war and Cold War periods inuenced the politically motivated eval-
uation of the Nazis and their collaborators as well as directions of Holocaust research31. is situation was
especially convenient for the purposeful soviet activities, the second source of historiographic paradigm which
identied the Lithuanian partisans with the killers of the Jews. e soviets highlighted the ideological similarity
of Lithuanian anti-soviet ghters and the Nazis arguing that Lithuanians, working together with the Nazis,
carried out massive massacres of civilians, and later applied the same methods in partisan activities. According
to Mingailė Jurkutė, the soviet regime “presented the mass killings carried out by the Nazis in parallel with
the “crimes of the bandits”; in this way, their status and weight of crimes were shown as equal i.e. the National
Socialist crimes against humanity condemned by the whole free world and crimes against the peaceful inhabi-
tants committed by “bandit gangs” which operated in Lithuania32. ese narratives reached western societies
because of the systematic eorts of the KGB which aimed to discredit the Lithuanian aspirations for freedom
and to set the Jewish community against the Lithuanians33. Later, publications arguing that Jonas Žemaitis-
Vytautas, Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Lukša, Noreika and other prominent partisan leaders and ghters
against the soviet regime were the murderers of the Jews appeared34. e myth of identication of Lithuanian
partisans with the Nazis still prevails not only in Russia, but also in the West and in Lithuania. In addition, it
continues to be embedded in new texts, even academic ones. If historical texts support this narrative, there
will be no need of source criticism, factual verication, and sensitivity to the uniqueness of local processes, or
the assessment of the historical context.
THE PRICE OF IDEALIZATION
e processes of the Uprising and the partisan war have received a considerable scientic attention. e
monograph of Kęstutis Girnius published 30 years ago both in the United States and Lithuania35 is an ex-
ample of an in-depth study of Lithuanian social reality during WWII which combines the theoretical per-
spective of social sciences and historical research. e author has shown that by investigating the available
resources professionally, the fragmentary nature of the data or its questionable reliability can be objectively
dealt with. However, what is the most important, he realized the principle that “one myth (the Soviet history
– D.N.) should not be replaced by another”36. Drawing on this principle, Griniuss research has shown that
discussion about the armed Lithuanian anti-soviet struggle may not be a pillar of ideologized or politicized
paradigm, but reveal the objective representation of the various processes in the occupied country, intro-
duce the variations in human behavior in certain historical circumstances, develop critical thinking, etc.
30 D. Noreika, Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2017, Nr. 4, p. 39
–46
.
31 N. Šepetys, Lietuvių santykiai su žydais? Holokausto istoriograjos analitika, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2005, No. 6, p. 246–254.
32 M. Jurkutė, Lietuvos partizanų karo atmintis: sovietinis, vietinis ir išeivijos pasakojimai [daktaro disertacija], Vilnius, 2016, p. 71.
33 D. Juodis, Šiapus ir anapus kordono:
sovietų saugumo veikla
prieš
lietuvių išeiviją 1945–1991 m., Vilnius, 2016, p. 242–267.
34 Lithuania. Crime and Punishment, 1999, January, No. 6.
35 K. Girnius,
Partizanų kovos Lietuvoje
, Vilnius, 1990.
36 Ibid., p. III.
245 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
us, this work stands as an outstanding example of historical research, which was understood dierently
in the occupied Lithuania.
Girnius provides an in-depth discussion of the topic relevant for this research: the evaluation of the
rebels who fought for the Lithuanian independence, partisans who collaborated with the Nazis and their
participation in the murdering of the Jews. e author formulated several well-grounded theses (based
on the analysis of available sources at that time), which laid the foundation for a deeper understanding of
historical phenomena: a) part of the former Nazi collaborators, even those who participated in the massive
massacres of civilians, mainly Jews, became partisans at the beginning of the second Soviet occupation:
even those who became used to killing in the years of the Nazi occupation went to the forests” 37; b) the
former Nazi collaborators (most of whom were secretly hiding during the inter-war period or emigrated
to the West) constituted only a small part of partisans, who predominantly were younger people ghting
against the repressive soviet regime; c) without a comprehensive empirical study, the generalizations of this
problem are conditional. Only a detailed empirical investigation would enable to answer the question of
relationship between the Lithuanian partisan war and the former Lithuanian cooperation with the Nazis38.
It could be assumed that with the free access to the soviet archives, with the increasing numbers of authentic
sources, and with the newly discovered hidden documents of partisan actions, the conceptual framework
proposed by Girnius was further developed.
However, the situation did not change. Research published on the Uprising and partisan war aer the
mentioned study of Girnius have not succeeded in dealing with all the necessary issues. Even before March
11, 1990, when Lithuania was still occupied, the Lithuanian partisans and the participants of the Uprising
began to be referred to as freedom ghters. In the context of statehood restoration, historical images revived
as a source of formation of the nation’s identity and patriotism; the narrative of armed struggle against the
USSR became topical once again. It was formed primarily as a contrast to the soviet propaganda, which was
not acceptable to those who possessed the knowledge of the anti-soviet struggle from the immediate social
environment, and to those who linked the soviet propaganda to other disclosed propagandist images. Con-
sequently, the conception of anti-soviet resistance began to be based on the idealized narrative which was
heavily inuenced by the work of the Lithuanian émigré – the writings of Juozas Lukša-Daumantas39 and
Juozas Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius40, which portrayed the image of rebels and partisans as freedom ghters,
victims of soviet repressions and, at the same time, defenders of civilians.
e idealized narrative created by émigré Lithuanians was heavily inuenced by history writing
tradition of inter-war Lithuania as well as the situational circumstances of the war and post-war period. e
authors of the rst writings on resistance were especially sensitive about the controversies of the Lithuanian
cooperation with the Nazis and Lithuanian aspirations for freedom. us, it is not surprising that they tried
to avoid identication of freedom ghters with the killers. As a result, for Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius, whose
activities during the Nazi occupation were also investigated by the expert commission of US Congress (as
a consequence, he was removed from the list of the Nazi war crimes suspects living in US), June uprising
was “an existential decision” and the partisan war “the most heroic (...) action of armed resistance41. e
concentration of the rebels was explained using gurative expressions as “the selection of nations knights”
and “the motives of duty and heart”42.
e topic of involvement of rebels and partisans in the massacre of the Jews (or collaboration with the
Nazis in general) has been rather neglected by Lithuanian researchers. It was suggested that the majority of
the Uprising participants went back to their farms aer the retreat of the Soviet Union and did not participate
in criminal activities. In 1944, most killers and collaborators ed to the West, were hiding or worked for the
37 Ibid., p. 369.
38 Ibid., p. 97–99.
39 J. Lukša, Partizanai už geležinės uždangos, Chicago,
1950.
40 J. Brazaitis, Vienų vieni: dvidešimt penkerių metų rezistencijoje, Chicago, 1964.
41 Ibid., p. 190.
42 Ibid., p. 221–227.
246 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
soviets. Tomas Remeikis only briey mentions this topic43, whereas a more detailed discussion is given by
Romualdas Misiūnas and Rein Taagepera who claim that the Nazi collaborators ed to Germany or start-
ed to cooperate with Moscow; oen they changed their names and surnames44. is statement shows the
choices made by some Nazi collaborators, however, it is too narrow and does not reect the actual situation.
It is wrong to assume that a person who collaborated with the occupants was just an opportunist who could
only behave in two ways, that is if the occupational regime changed, this type of person either ed with the
old master or started serving for the new one. However, similarly to the pre-war and post-war Lithuania, the
historical reality of the Second World War was favorable for various forms of cooperation and resistance:
opportunistic double45 or even triple collaboration46; cooperation with one occupant in order to defend
oneself from another occupant. Today, it is clear that the Nazi collaborators did not just rush to the West or
began to work for Moscow. Many of them continued to ght against the soviets. However, these issues were
not considered by the Lithuania émigré at that time.
In 1990, when the Lithuanian independence was restored, the collision of new national and old
soviet narratives did not result in the construction of a novel perspective. On the contrary, the local authors
continued to develop the idealized narrative created by émigré Lithuanians. Objective, but inconvenient
evidence and facts were ignored. Being the core of the previous soviet propaganda, they became associ-
ated with the all the lies of the fallen soviet regime. In this way, the facts about the possible links between
partisans and the Nazi occupation were not mentioned or supercially denied by giving a reference to
convenient sources. For example, Nijolė Gaškaitė’s et al., claim that only 8% of the partisans were accused
of collaborating with the Nazis is based on the statistics of biographical data of partisans who died from
August 1951 to January 1953. However, the data of 1944-1946 would represent the actual situation more
objectively and accurately47.
In summary, an idealized approach focused exclusively on Lithuanian victimization and suering
perspective, whereas the partisan war became isolated from the problematic relationship with the Second
World War. In this way, the formation of a new approach based on objective interpretation of events and
critical thinking was not encouraged48. As a result, writings which idealize the partisan war are viewed by
some historians not as academic research, but as historical perspective of the past which was born “aer the
long years of prohibition to talk”49; others perceive these texts as attempts of certain political forces to mo-
nopolize the “martyrological discourse” in order to please the “specic electorate50 (it should be noted that
such perspective is oen as ideological as the one previously discussed). Despite this criticism, the lack of
critical and analytical approaches can be seen in today’s research as well51. For example, particularly strange
are considerations that a person who participated in anti-soviet resistance and suered repressions becomes
not guilty of the previously committed crimes against humanity by claiming that “only a mean-spirited
person would dare to call him a collaborator or the killer of the Jews”52.
43 T. Remeikis, Opposition to Soviet Rule in Lithuania 1945–1980, Chicago, 1980, p. 58–59.
44 R. Misiūnas, R. Taagepera,Baltijos valstybės: priklausomybės metai 19401980, Vilnius, 1992, p. 94–96.
45 A part of the former soviet collaborators (communists, Komsomol activists, militiamen, collaborators with security services, etc.)
helped the Nazis during the period of the German occupation in order to save their lives. L. Rein, Local Collaboration in the Execution
of the “Final Solution”, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2006, Vol. 20, No. 3, p. 381–409.
46 Some of the murdrers in the “Lietūkis“ massacre (for example, Juozas Surmas) worked as the Nazi agents until 1940. In 1940-1941,
they collaborated with the soviets, whereas by conducting murders in June 1941 they tried to show their loyalty for the Nazis. A.
Anušauskas, G. Sviderskytė, XX amžiaus slaptieji archyvai: Dvylika istorijos detektyvų, Vilnius: Alma littera, 2008, p. 58–101.
47 N. Gaškaitė, D. Kuodytė, A. Kašėta, B. Ulevičius,Lietuvos partizanai 1944-1953,Kaunas, 1996, p. 14.
48 D. Noreika, Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2017, Nr. 4, p. 39
–46
.
49 E. Aleksandravičius, Atviros atminties visuomenei, Pasipriešinimo istorija 1944–1953 metai, Vilnius: Aidai, 1997, p. 5–6.
50 V. Safronovas, Lietuvos atminimo politikos tendencijos po 1990 metų, Nuo Basanavičiaus, Vy tauto Didžiojo iki Molotovo ir Ribben-
tropo: atminties ir atminimo kultūrų transformacijos XX-XXI amžiuje, ed. Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Vilnius, 2011, p. 337–378.
51 E. Jankauskienė, “1944–1953 m. Lietuvos partizaninis karas su Sovietų Sąjunga“, in: Lietuvos karai: Lietuvos XIX–XX a. nacionalinių
karų sisteminė–kiekybinė analizė, Vilnius, 2014, p. 211–270.
52 V. Sinica, A. Terleckas – KGB`istas, valstybės kūrėjai – balvonai, J. Noreika – tautos gėda?, <
https://www.del.lt/news/ringas/lit/v-si-
nica-a-terleckas-kgbistas-valstybes-kurejai-balvonai-j-noreika-tautos-geda.d?id=68629510
>, [accessed: 2017 05 28].
247 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
ARE ALL COLLABORATORS THE SAME?
e authors of historical texts who support the paradigm of idealized partisan war a priori tend to reject (or
at least to marginalize) the relations of the freedom ghters with the Nazi collaborators, and killers especially
because of the prevailing tendency to dehumanize them i.e. to treat them as racists, sadists and criminals.
However, is this a well-grounded approach?
Collaboration or cooperation with the occupant or enemy is typical of the history of all wars and
conicts of humanity. Most attention has been given specically to collaboration with the Nazi Germany53.
is historical period gave rise to a number of denitions of contemporary approach to collaboration and
synonyms used to refer to this phenomenon as, for example, kvizling. Collaboration is most commonly seen
as a synonym of treason or as an antonym of patriotism; however, this supercial view does not reect the
complexity and ambiguity of historical reality54.
In Lithuania, the concept of collaboration is strongly inuenced by the strict evaluation of collabora-
tion with the soviets, although the denitions are rather universal. For example, in Vytautas Tininiss research,
a collaborator is predominantly the “traitor of homeland. According to Tininis, “collaborators are people
who betrayed their homeland and its independence due to political or ideological beliefs and voluntarily
cooperated with the occupants”55. is is a rather straightforward and supercial denition in comparison to
the one given by Vincas Trumpa in 1989, who claims that sometimes “it is dicult to draw the line between
the freedom ghter and collaborator”, because in dierent historical circumstances, the same person could be
both a traitor and a hero56. However, a number of historians could not accept that the two images – the heroic
freedom ghter’s and dehumanized traitor’s – could be compatible in one person, which is why, according to
Joachim Tauber, the related discussions have been suocated by “the categorical clichés of either-or57.
During the post-war period, the writings of Lithuanian émigré about the collaboration with the Nazis
or the Holocaust mostly protectively neglected the collaboration of Lithuanians with the occupants or their
participation in the crimes against humanity. Some of them blamed people of other nationalities58, others
claimed that although there were some Lithuanians among the collaborators, they mostly came from the mar-
gins of society59 and, in this way, were aliens. is viewpoint merged with the liberal intellectuals’ perspective
to look at the problem in a direct way and inuenced the Lithuanian academic texts. is trend is visible in
Romualdas Misiūnass and Rein Taagerera’s claim that collaborating Lithuanian were a “handful of scums”60, or
a statement of Vygintas Vareikis that “the majority of Lithuanian collaborators were people from the margins
of society”61. is type of discourse showed the Nazi collaborators as distant, alien, dehumanized, and pushed
to the margins of society, which, in a way, explained the reasons of their actions.
ese historiographic tendencies confused the phenomena of collaboration with the Germans (in
general) and participation in the massacre of the Jews (in particular). For example, one of the most prominent
researchers of the Holocaust, Saulius Sužiedėlis, enumerates the reasons which made Lithuanians to partic-
ipate in the killing of the Jews: 1) opportunistic outbreak of the criminal element; 2) wish to revenge for the
crimes of some Jews committed to Lithuanians during the rst Bolshevik period; 3) sudden formation of op-
53 J. A. Armstrong, Collaborationism in World War II: e Integral Nationalist Variant in Eastern Europe, e Journal of Modern Hi story,
1968, Vol. 40, No. 3, p. 396–410.
54 Leonid Rein, e Kings and the Pawns: Collaboration in Byelorussia during World War II, New York: Berghahn Books, 2011, p. 11–18.
55 V. Tininis, Kolaboravimo sąvoka Lietuvos istorijos kontekste, Genocidas ir rezistencija, 2001, No. 1(9), p. 71–78.
56 V. Trumpa, Kovotojai ir kolaborantai, Lietuva XIX amžiuje, Chicago, 1989, p. 62–77.
57 J. Tauberis, Tarp laisvės kovos ir masinių žudynių: 1940–1944 metų ktyvios lietuviškos biograjos įvadas, Lietuvos istorijos metraštis,
2002, No. 1, p. 99–120.
58 Mykolas Biržiška attempts to prove the innocence of the killers by describing the unit of German collaborators: “all armed young
men talked in Polish, although this unit (...) was known as “Lithuanian“; this is how it was referred to by the Germans“. M. Biržiška,
Lietuvių tautos kelias į naująjį gyvenimą, Los Angeles, 1952, T. 1, p. 48.
59 Juozas Prunskis claimed that only Lithuanians “inclined to criminal activities” participated in the killing of the Jews. J. Prunskis,
Lithuanian’s Jews and the Holocaust, Chicago, 1979, p. 13.
60 R. Misiūnas, R. Taagepera, Baltijos valstybės priklausomybės metai 1940–1990, Vilnius, 1992, p. 67–68.
61 V. Vareikis, Kontraversiniai antrojo pasaulinio karo vertinimai, Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis. Antrojo pasaulinio karo
pabaiga Rytų Prūsijoje: faktai ir istorinės įžvalgos, 2009, T. 18, p. 11–34.
248 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
posing geopolitical interests of two communities; 4) traditional anti-Semitism, which unfolded at the peak of
war and occupation; 5) fascist and nationalist moods encouraging anti-Jewish actions which appeared among
Lithuanians before the war62.
Sužiedėlis applies a similar scheme not only for the explanation of the Lithuanian participation in the
killing of the Jews, but also for collaboration in general. In this case, the author distinguishes: 1) nationalist
idealism; 2) political naivite; 3) ideological contamination; 4) obsequious opportunism; 5) criminal intent63.
It is evident that both denitions of collaboration are interrelated and that the second explanation is
largely inuenced by the rst one i.e. the reasons of the killing of the Jews aect the conception of collaboration
in general. It can be agreed that Lithuanian intentions to collaborate with the Nazis (before the outbreak and at
the very beginning of the German-soviet war) were dictated by geopolitical interests, political or social oppor-
tunism, but it is dicult to estimate the role of the “criminal intentions”. Of course, during the military actions
and the Uprising, there were favourable conditions for robbery, property conscation, violence, killing and
other criminal activities; however, it is doubtful whether they were related with collaboration. e activities of
the provisional government of Lithuania which collaborated with the Germans for strategical reasons as well
as the actions of police or self-defence units which cooperated because of the tactical or social motives were
primarily directed at prevention of criminal events rather than their initiation. e reason of the rst brutal
murdering and pogroms was not criminal intentions, but opportunism of collaborators, their attempts to
show loyalty to the new regime or to avoid punishment for cooperation with the soviets. ese factors could
also be applied to the re-established Lithuanian security and criminal police and other institutions. Criminal
action was not a primary purpose, but rather an outcome or a price paid for the achievement of certain goals64.
Moreover, the words “naivite, “contamination ” and “obsequious ” used by Sužiedėlis imply a pre-
concieved attitude with respect to the Nazi collaborators, projecting the knowledge of the outcome of WWII
and the resulting evaluation of collaboration and the National Socialism. Narrative which merged various
phenomena of those times (criminal intentions, racist anti-Semitism, and immoral opportunism) contributed
to the formation of the premise that cooperation with the Nazis was equal to crimes against humanity and
betrayal of the interests of Lithuanian people. On the other hand, emotionally neutral words could be used to
describe the motives and factors of collaboration. For example, Stathis Kalyvas who conducted a research on
the Greek service in the Nazi auxiliary police in 1941-1944 explains that this choice of the Greek people was
determined by strategic political orientation, the choice of the “lesser evil”, material interests and avoidance
of the Nazi violence65.
CONCLUSIONS
Due to the particular circumstances of the Second World War and the related processes, the same person could
be both a collaborator and a freedom ghter. is fact neither condemns nor justies this group of people, but
rather reects the complexity of the particular period of time. e usage of the bipolar formula “patriots or
killers” simplies the historic reality, which could be revealed only by a multi-layered and multi-perspective
evaluation of the Uprising, the period of the Nazi occupation and the partisan war. is academic approach
would allow to objectively portray the facts representing a dierent perspective of the same historical phenom-
enon and construct a coherent and critical narrative. e reconstruction of the factual rather than simplied
social reality would help to create the preconditions for knowing the past with its all light and dark undertones
instead of painting it black-and-white.
62 S. Sužiedėlis, Penkiasdešimčiai metų praėjus: Lietuvių tautos sukilimo ir Laikinosios vyriausybės istorijos interpretacijų disonansai,
Metmenys, 1991, No. 61, p. 149–172.
63 S. Sužiedėlis, Lithuanian Collaboration during the Second World War: Past Realities, Present Perceptions, “Kollaboration” in Nordos-
teuropa: Erscheinungsformen und Deutungen im 20. Jahrhundert, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2006. p. 164–173.
64 D. Noreika, Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2017, Nr. 4, p. 39
–46
.
65 S. N. Kalyvas, Armed Collaboration in Greece, 1941–1944, European Review of History–Revue europe´enne d’histoire, 2008, Vol. 15,
No. 2, p. 129–142.
249 The Holocaust in the Eastern and Western European States Occupied by the Nazis: Studies and Memory
From this point of view, the discussion of the facts of the collaboration with the Nazis (or even partic-
ipation in the mass killings) in the biographies of the participants of the Uprising or the partisan war would
not destroy the image of the anti-soviet resistance as a ght for Lithuanian freedom as both facts represent a
historical reality. Crimes against humanity were performed not by fanatical dehumanized individuals, but by
normal members of the societies of those times. e Lithuanian choices were largely determined by objectively
and subjectively rational models of actions tested by historical experience as well as the perception of forms of
collective action prevalent in the society of those times. People had to obey the orders enforced by the leader-
ship and conform to the social pressure. An important role was played by the Nazi government (which was real
and absolute at that time), which initiated and legitimized the mass killings and the intensifying war phenom-
ena as active anti-Semitic propaganda, deepening polarization and brutalization of society, routinization and
development of tolerance to the killings. Part of the former Nazi collaborators or participants of the Holocaust
participated in the Uprising and became partisans aer 1944 who fought against the soviet occupation. e
ghting for freedom does not deny any of their previous social roles and does not redeem their crimes, whereas
the latter do not take away the status of freedom ghters. is perspective enables the modern society to better
understand the totality of the past events as well as allows the academic research to realize its didactic function,
that is, to reect the nature of war and the processes happening in the country occupied by a totalitarian regime.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Straipsnyje pristatomas Lietuvos partizanų vadovybės prozopografinis tyrimas. Surinkti duomenys leido nuosekliai išskirti ir aptarti tiriamų asmenų skirtumus ir panašumus šiose srityse: kartų, šeimos, socialinės bei teritorinės kilmės, civilinio ir karinio išsilavinimo, veiklos iki pasitraukimo partiza­nauti, darbų ir nuopelnų įsitraukus į ginkluotą antisovietinį pogrindį. Gauti rezultatai leido sukurti gana aiškų ir tolygų laisvės kovų vado paveikslą: kilęs iš tris ar daugiau vaikų turinčios ūkininkų šeimos, įgijęs vidurinį išsilavinimą, tarnavęs kariuomenėje, vedęs, Lietuvos išlaisvinimo klausimu užsiangažavęs dar iki tapimo laisvės kovotoju.
Article
In this paper a particular strand of collaboration in occupied Greece is explored: military or armed collaboration. The available evidence is reviewed and several puzzles raised by armed collaboration in Greece are discussed: its geographical distribution, size, timing, relation to prewar politics and cleavages, and the motivations of officers and rank-and-file who served in collaborationist militias. A statistical analysis is then presented using data from a regional study conducted in Greece by the author. The article concludes with some general points about the theoretical framework that best helps the analysis of the phenomenon and three key theoretical concepts are underlined: indirect rule, civil war, and endogenous dynamics.
  • D Noreika
D. Noreika, Šauliai, Birželio sukilimas ir partizaninis karas: Šiaurės rytų Lietuvos atvejis, Lituanistica, 2015, T. 16, No. 3(101), p. 234.
Kauno tautinio darbo apsaugos, 2-ojo pagalbinės policijos tarnybos batalionų karių kolektyvinė biografija, daktaro disertacija, Klaipėda-Vilnius
  • A Rukšėnas
A. Rukšėnas, Kauno tautinio darbo apsaugos, 2-ojo pagalbinės policijos tarnybos batalionų karių kolektyvinė biografija, daktaro disertacija, Klaipėda-Vilnius, 2013, p. 217, 359, 362, 373. Ibid., p. 369.
Vienų vieni: dvidešimt penkerių metų rezistencijoje
  • J Brazaitis
J. Brazaitis, Vienų vieni: dvidešimt penkerių metų rezistencijoje, Chicago, 1964.
Komsomol activists, militiamen, collaborators with security services, etc.) helped the Nazis during the period of the German occupation in order to save their lives. L. Rein, Local Collaboration in the Execution of the "Final Solution
A part of the former soviet collaborators (communists, Komsomol activists, militiamen, collaborators with security services, etc.) helped the Nazis during the period of the German occupation in order to save their lives. L. Rein, Local Collaboration in the Execution of the "Final Solution", Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2006, Vol. 20, No. 3, p. 381-409.
Juozas Surmas) worked as the Nazi agents until 1940. In 1940-1941, they collaborated with the soviets, whereas by conducting murders in June 1941 they tried to show their loyalty for the Nazis
Some of the murdrers in the "Lietūkis" massacre (for example, Juozas Surmas) worked as the Nazi agents until 1940. In 1940-1941, they collaborated with the soviets, whereas by conducting murders in June 1941 they tried to show their loyalty for the Nazis. A. Anušauskas, G. Sviderskytė, XX amžiaus slaptieji archyvai: Dvylika istorijos detektyvų, Vilnius: Alma littera, 2008, p. 58-101.
Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą
  • D Noreika
D. Noreika, Apie partizanus ir Holokaustą, Naujasis Židinys-Aidai, 2017, Nr. 4, p. 39-46.