Volume 36

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, vol. XXXVIThe Unending War? The Baltic States after 1918

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. XXXVI

Editors: Vytautas Jokubauskas and Vasilijus Safronovas

Klaipėda, 2018

This volume of Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis invites us to reconsider which outcome of the year 1918 we emphasise when describing its importance to people who lived on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. How well do we comprehend the situation highlighting the end of the First World War or the emergence of new states? The volume puts forward the understanding that, for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the year 1918 was merely an episode in a state of war that for various reasons has not yet ended. The contributions from Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish authors deal with the armed struggles for national statehood that took place in the region between 1918 and 1920. Based on the case of Lithuania, they outline the search for security that began afterwards, and manifested itself not only through investment in the armed forces and planning, but also by strengthening paramilitary organisations. In this context, the anti-Soviet armed resistance that took place in Lithuania in 1944–1953 was the result of the skills in guerrilla warfare that had developed throughout the interwar period. The six articles are complemented by two sources published in the book. They include a brief overview of the 1919–1923 military action in Lithuania prepared by the Lithuanian armed forces in 1926, and an operation plan approved in 1937, which allows us to assess how Lithuania planned for a war against Poland at that time. The discussion section gives an overview of the artistic, public and academic initiatives to mark the centenary of the First World War in Lithuania.

Editor’s Note



The Soviet Army in Northern Lithuania between January and June 1919

Abstract and Full Text
In January 1919, the Army of Soviet Latvia (ASL) emerged out of Red Army units fighting on future Latvian territory. Until its dissolution in early June 1919, units of the ASL participated in a war that covered areas claimed by both the Latvian and Lithuanian governments. The article aims to reevaluate the campaign in northern Lithuania in the first half of 1919. Until today, the fighting on the left flank of the ASL has been seen as a secondary front, and therefore usually overlooked. The article explores the plans of the ASL, the forces involved, and the actual warfare. Attention is also paid to events behind the front line, and the activities of the Soviet Latvian authorities in Lithuania.

Key words: Red Army, Army of Soviet Latvia, Latvian-Soviet war, Lithuanian-Soviet war.


Национальные части Эстонской армии и национальные меньшинства в войне за независимость Эстонии в 1918–1920 гг.
EN title: National Minorities and National Units in the Estonian Army during the Estonian War of Independence, 1918–1920

Abstract and Full Text
The article analyses issues related to the participation of national minorities in the Estonian War of Independence of 1918–1920. Due to the low numbers of national minorities, they were not treated as a serious problem in the Republic of Estonia during the war, but the question of their involvement was important in the principle of the strategy of active defence. This article is based on a doctoral thesis that was defended at Tallinn University in June 2018. The involvement of national minorities in the national units of the Estonian national army in the Estonian War of Independence is investigated from a cultural studies approach. The article aims to show the attitude of national minorities towards the Estonian state and the army, and to evaluate their role in the struggle by the Estonian army in the War of Independence.

Key words: Estonian War of Independence, national minorities, national units, Baltic Germans, Estonian Russians.


Lietuvos kariuomenės kovinė parengtis 1935–1940 metais
EN title: The Combat Readiness of the Lithuanian Army in 1935–1940

Abstract and Full Text
Combat readiness is the state of the armed forces and their ability to carry out combat duties. Combat training was performed in the Lithuanian army during all the period of the existence of the independent state. However, at the beginning of the 1930s, a qualitative change in combat training could be noticed, and it was implemented even faster after the military modernisation of the army started in 1934–1935. Since the main indicator showing combat readiness is army exercises, this article aims to evaluate the Lithuanian army’s combat readiness after the 1934–1935 reorganisation. In order to achieve this aim, the joint field exercise that was executed at the Gaižiūnai training ground in the summer, and the strategic-scale training exercises carried out in the autumn, a large army field exercise, are analysed. The article discusses how the army evaluated the training, the skills, and the abilities of the armed forces necessary for the execution of combat tasks that were revealed during the exercise.

Key words: exercise, field exercise, training, combat training, combat readiness, Lithuanian army, armed forces.


Waldemar REZMER
Lithuania and its War Potential in the Literary Activities of Leon Mitkiewicz, the First Polish Military Attaché in Kaunas

Abstract and Full Text
On 17 March 1938, Warsaw delivered an ultimatum to Kaunas. After the 18 years of non-existent official diplomatic relations with Poland due to the occupation of Vilnius in 1920, Lithuania was forced to renew them. The acceptance of the ultimatum in Lithuania heavily influenced the prestige of the authoritarian regime, but opened a new stage in relations between Lithuania and Poland on the eve of the Second World War. In addition to the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Lithuania Franciszek Charwat, Poland appointed Leon Mitkiewicz (1896–1972) as its military attaché to the diplomatic mission in Kaunas. Having scrupulously documented his life and service, Mitkiewicz observed Lithuania both before and after his appointment. He also conducted numerous political-military analyses, trying to assess the direction of international and geopolitical events. The article gives an overview of Mitkiewicz’s notes on Polish-Lithuanian relations, and Lithuania and its war potential both before and after the 1938 ultimatum.

Key words: Lithuanian-Polish relations, war potential, Lithuanian armed forces.


Zenonas NORKUS
Kokia buvo gynybos išlaidų našta Lietuvai tarpukariu?
EN title: How Large was the Defence Spending Burden in Interwar Lithuania?

Abstract and Full Text
This paper discusses recent quantitative research on defence spending in interwar Lithuania, and provides a comparison between the burden of defence spending in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Poland in 1924, 1938 and 1939, which are the only years with available data on the total expenditure in Lithuania. Although contemporary mainstream economic science does not consider the military sector as unproductive (it ‘produces’ security services), it still sees it as a burden to the economy, because defence spending decreases private consumption, along with private and public civil investment. Two indicators of this burden are discussed: the share of defence spending in total state spending, and the ratio of defence spending to gross national income (GNI) or gross domestic product (GDP). In recent research on defence spending in interwar Lithuania, only the size and changes in nominal expenditure have so far been measured, without taking into consideration changes in the purchasing power of the litas. The main findings of the application of the second indicator include the fact that among the Baltic countries (including Finland), the Latvian economy was most heavily burdened by defence spending in 1924–1925. On the eve of the Second World War, however, Lithuania became the leader.

Key words: defence economics, defence spending burden, share of defence expenditure in the state budget, ratio of defence expenditure to total output, comparison of defence spending burdens.


Iš Lietuvos Laisvės Kovos Sąjūdžio istorijos: 1949 m. rugpjūčio 13 d. Užpelkių miško kautynės
EN title: From the History of the Movement for the Struggle for Lithuania’s Freedom: The Battle of Užpelkiai Forest on 13 August 1949

Abstract and Full Text
On 13 August 1949, in Užpelkiai Forest in northern Lithuania, on the border of the Grinkiškis and Baisogala rural districts in Radviliškis County, a battle by Lithuanian partisans that had a significant impact on the history of the Prisikėlimas (Resurrection) district took place. The leaders of the Lietuvos Laisvės Kovos Sąjūdis (Movement for the Struggle for Lithuania’s Freedom) operated in this district. Based on the approach of modern conflict archaeology, the authors of the article, helped by volunteers, determined the location of the Battle of Užpelkiai Forest (in the Grinkiškis rural district, Radviliškis County), and collected a lot of new archaeological and historical data, in order to reconstruct the progress of the attack by MGB (Ministry of State Security) troops and the partisan defence. By referring to complex research results, the article gives the surnames and duties in the organisation of all the partisans who participated, as well as the circumstances and progress of the battle. It shows the importance of the Battle of Užpelkiai Forest to the Lietuvos Laisvės Kovos Sąjūdis in 1949–1950. The case study of field research into the battle in the partisan war shows how complex historical and archaeological research complements the picture of the partisan war with facts and artefacts, clarifies or denies old interpretations, and leads us to new ones.

Key words: Lithuanian partisan war, Movement for the Struggle for Lithuania’s Freedom, Battle of Užpelkiai Forest, modern conflict archaeology, complex research.


Source publications

Du karo istorijos šaltiniai iš Lietuvos tarpukariu
EN title: Two Military History Sources from Interwar Lithuania

Svarbesniųjų Lietuvos kariuomenės kautynių ir susirėmimų su priešais 1918–1923 m. m. trumpa apžvalga
[Lietuvos kariuomenės] operacijų planas nr. 3 „L“

Book reviews

Hektoras VITKUS
Knyga apie Antrojo pasaulinio karo atmintis ir atminčių karus Lietuvoje
MAKHOTINA, Ekaterina. Erinnerungen an den Krieg – Krieg der Erinnerungen: Litauen und der Zweite Weltkrieg (Schnittstellen – Studien zum östlichen und südöstlichen Europa, Bd. 4). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017. 478 S. – ISBN 978-3-525-30090-9

WEZEL, Katja. Geschichte als Politikum. Lettland und die Aufarbeitung nach der Diktatur (The Baltic Sea Region: Nordic Dimensions – European Perspectives, vol. 15). Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2016. – 324 S. ISBN 978-3-8305-3425-9
TÖNSMANN, Susanne. What is Citizenship for? Citizenships and Naturalization in Latvia (The Baltic Sea Region: Nordic Dimensions – European Perspectives, vol. 16). Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2017. – 218 pp. ISBN 978-3-8305-3595-9


Šimtmečio atgarsiai: ar pasikeis Pirmojo pasaulinio karo vertinimas Lietuvoje?