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Conference "Will to Resist"
On June 14–15, two-day international conference Will to Resist: Historical Consideration for Future Challenges was organized at the Military Academy of Lithuania. During the scientific conference, the following topics were discussed: state defence, premises for the absence of will to resist occupation and the Lithuanian and international experience in resisting occupation.
The following scientists from Lithuania, Czech Republic and Finland participated in the conference: Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis, Prof. Alpo Juntunen (Finnish Military Academy), Prof. Dr. Gražina Miniotaitė, Prof. Dr. Alfredas Bumblauskas, Dr. Ales Binar (University of Defence of Czech Republic), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Valdas Rakutis, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Virgilijus Pugačiauskas, Dr. Mantas Martišius, Dr. Jonas Vaičenonis, Assoc. Prof. Kęstutis Girnius and Vytautas Jokubauskas.
The conference focused on the difficult and critical periods in the Lithuanian history (1793, 1918, 1940, and 1991), other states’ experience in the loss of sovereignty and its restoration in political and military aspects and emphasised the Lithuanians’ strong will to resist any occupation.
In the opening speech, Minister of National Defence Rasa Juknevičienė reminded the attendance of the significant dates in the Lithuanian history – revolt in June 1941, Plechavičius’ feat of arms and the Declaration of Independence signed by the partisans’ leaders in Mėnaičiai village in 1949 – the events that showed our nation’s will to resist.
“Lithuanians’ will and desire to resist revive in critical moments. However, today we need the will to create so that we would not have to resist. If we have the will to create, we will have the will to resist”, said the Minister. She also mentioned the example from the Finn history when they stopped the Soviet Army despite the great loss of people and territory.
According to the Minister Rasa Juknevičienė, the history of Lithuania is not unique due to its occupations or resistance. “These two decades and a little bit more, that the organizers of the conference are heading us to, are heroic and tragic. We have seen it all: will to resist, weak-willed capitulations and sneaky betrayals, still this period from 1991 has a favourable ending. At least for now,” said the Minister.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Valdas Rakutis underlined that “as we have very weak will and effort to build up the army and allocate money for it during the peacetime, we meet the war unprepared materially though strong psychologically”.
“Then we are able to win battles, however, we lose the war”, said Valdas Rakutis.
During his report, historian Alfredas Bumblauskas analysed how the government considered the destiny of the state in 1921 and 1940. He came to the conclusion that both times Lithuania was a short step from delivering ultimatum and resisting the aggressor. He also stressed the major change in the Lithuanian society that occurred in the period from 1940 to 1991 when for the first time in the history the Western thinking triumphed and influenced further decisions and victories.
In the report Lithuanians’ Resistance against the Soviet Occupation Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis said that “it is much worse when the mind and thoughts are occupied compared to the physical occupation“.
“Out of three neighbours, who aimed to destroy Lithuania, two are reconciled with it, its freedom and independence and one is still not reconciled, therefore, the will to resist is still alive”, said the professor.
Vytautas Jokubauskas in his report 1938–1940: Absence of Will or Rational Thinking was looking for an answer to the question why during the mentioned period Lithuania lost its sovereignty twice without making a political decision on armed resistance and later the citizens shed their blood and fought desperately against the occupants. “Prior to the occupation in 1940, the army was prepared well due to the purposeful mobilization system that had been developed since 1935. Up to this day the historians cannot find any obstacles for the Lithuanian army to fight against the occupants. We had the possibilities to resist but we did not have political will”, said V. Jokubauskas.
Prof. Dr. G. Miniotaitė from the Military Academy of Lithuania talked about political resistance during the Lithuanian National Liberation Movement in 1988–1991 and accented that “civil resistance manifested in the powerless government and ended in the powerlessness of the government”. According to the professor, the civil resistance movement was inviting for the citizens because of the clear aims, such as honesty, publicity, democracy, rule of law and independence that were acceptable for the society.
Dr. Algirdas Vincas Kanauka in his report Systematization of National Will for Survival emphasised that Lithuania has to look to the future and have its security strategies.
“One of the scenarios is peace that we have now and that can last for 50 years. Now we live in the “golden age”. The second scenario is the foreign saboteurs who make influence in Lithuania through culture or change the facts of history and falsify them. Such hostile propaganda against Lithuania exists today as well. If the citizens do not respond to it, it can only serve the enemy. The third scenario includes possible attack from the enemy. The fourth one is about the non-NATO countries which can decide that NATO does not want to fight and win. The last one is when the atomic weapon or other weapon of mass destruction is used“, the scientist introduced possible future geopolitical scenarios for Lithuania.
While talking about the strategies for resistance, Dr. Kanauka emphasised that the best strategy is when the society including regular and irregular (volunteers, riflemen, etc) army as well as civilians participate in the resistance.
Vilnius University lector Dr. Mantas Martišius’ report was about information operations, ideological wars against Lithuania and its goal to weaken the trust in the government and self-confidence. “Will to resist the aggressor comes from self-confidence“, told Dr. M. Martišius.
On the second day of the conference, the speakers from Finland and Czech Republic presented reports on military and political aspects of Winter War, Munich Agreement and resistance of Czechoslovakia.
Prof. A. Juntunen from the Military Academy of Finland affirmed that Winter War has been the object of admiration for decades. “Though 70 years has passed, the Finns still talk about 105 Days of Glory and the spirit still keeps us up”, said the professor.
He also mentioned that during the war, the Finn soldiers could not be supplied with modern weapons though that was not the key point. “The general anti-Bolshevik mentality that dominated in the whole country helped to fight. The Russians were confident about their victory in Finland in two weeks; however, they suffered painful defeat whereas the Finn soldiers’ heroism gained great admiration. The Soviet propaganda was one-sided and did not weaken the motivation to fight and hold the ground. Though we lost a lot of territory, the result was independent Finland“, said Prof. A. Juntunen.
Dr. A. Binar from the University of Defence in Czech Republic introduced the Munich Collusion and Sudeten Crisis of 1938 and underlined that the processes were influenced by the fact that in 1918 Czechoslovakia was established as the Czechoslovakia nation though there never was the nationality of “Czechoslovak”. “Czechoslovakia consisted of many nations, such as Germans, Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, Hungarians and Jews. Because of such ethnic composition and the mood prevailing in Europe, there were many anti-state parties aiming to separate certain territories with the majority of ethnic residents from Czechoslovakia. After the democratic elections in 1935, half of the mandates in the parliament belonged to the anti-state parties. During the Munich Conference on 22-23 September 1938, the representatives of the parties agreed to let Germany, Poland and Hungary occupy contentious territory of Czechoslovakia“, claimed the guest from Czech Republic. He concluded that the outcome of the collusion was that Czechoslovakia lost almost 40 000 km2 of territory and about 4 million citizens.
The international conference organized by the Military Academy of Lithuania was closed by the round table discussion conducted by analyst Tomas Jermalavičius from International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn, Estonia.
The organizers of the scientific international conference plan to hold such conferences every year.