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60th anniversary of Liberation Movement of Lithuania

2009.02.12

 

60th anniversary of signature of Declaration of Lithuania's Liberation Movement was celebrated in Vilnius Garrison Officers' Club under the name of ”the newborn of a partisan headquarters bunker”, February 14.


Guests of the celebration were the President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, Speaker of Seimas Arunas Valinskas, Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene, Chief of Defence Lt. Gen. Valdas Tutkus, members of Seimas, representatives of the Ministry of National Defence, Lithuanian Armed Forces, Genocide and Resistance Research Centre, Vilnius Municipality, and others.


The gathered attended a mass at St. Ignatius Church and a solemn commemoration at the Vilnius Garrison Officers' Club. Guests of honour President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene, and Chief of Defence Lt. Gen. Valdas Tutkus gave speeches at the event, fallen for the freedom of Lithuania were honoured by a minute of silence, flowers were put at the monument in Gediminas Avenue and the cenotaph for National Heroes in Rasos Cemetery. An announcement was read by Chair of the Committee for National Security and Defence of Seimas Dr. Arvydas Anusauskas.
On February 15 commemorative events were held in Radviliskis District where the February 16 Declaration was signed during the overall convention of Lithuania's partisan leaders on 2-22 February 1949. The events were attended by the Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene, Chief of Defence Lt. Gen. Valdas Tutkus, representatives of public organisations in Radviliskis District, etc.


On February 15 in Baisogala cemetery soldiers of Guard of Honour performed salvoes of triumph, memory of the fallen was honoured by a minute of silence, flower wreaths were laid to commemorate the historical events. Later guests and participants proceeded to put flowers at the Freedom Monument in Seduva. In a solemn commemoration in Radviliskis Culture House speeches were given by the Minister of National Defence R.Jukneviciene, Chief of Defence Lt. Gen. Valdas Tutkus, Aukse Ramanauskaite-Skokauskiene, member of Seimas and daughter of signatory of the February 16 Declaration Gen. Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, and member of Seimas Dalia Kuodyte.


***


Lithuania started armed resistance against the Soviet occupation in 1944 and the fight continued until 1953 when coherent structures of Lithuanian partisan movement were destroyed. Pioneer partisan formations were established in 1944, later they aggregated into bigger organisational units: territorial units, military districts and territories. Efforts were made to unite military territorial partisan structures existing in the occupied Lithuania to establish an integrated organisation capable of struggling for the country's liberation by political and military means, and to form a joint political and military command of the armed resistance.


An overall convention of Lithuanian partisan leaders was summoned in Minaiciai village (Radviliskis District) on 2-22 February 1949, discussions took place from 2 to 10 of February. The organisation of Lithuania's armed resistance received the name of the Movement of Lithuania's Liberation in the bunker of Leonardas Griginis (with a code name Uzpalis), head of the District of Rise, in the farmstead of Stanislovas Miknius in Minaiciai village. In the succeeding meetings command of the Liberation Movement was formed, political and armed resistance programmes, political, ideological, organisational and other activities of the Movement, the Statute, and other issues were drafted.


However, the document prepared then – the 1949 February 16 Declaration of the Council of the Movement of Lithuania's Liberation - was of the primary importance. The document adopted in the Council's session was signed by eight participants: Chair of Presidium of the Council and head of partisan territory of West Lithuania Jonas Zemaitis-Vytautas, and members of the Council – head of the Aurochs District Aleksandras Grybinas-Faustas (Faust), chief of staff of the partisan territory of West Lithuania Juozas Sibaila-Merainis, chief of staff of the District of Rise Bronius Liesys-Naktis (Night), head of the District of Rise Leonardas Grigonis-Uzpalis, head of the partisan territory of South Lithuania A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas (Hawk) and Secretary of Presidium of the Council Petras Bartkus-Zadgaila.


Along with other documents adopted in the convention, the Declaration formed a legal and political basis for armed resistance in Lithuania, gave a new character for freedom fighting, legitimised the Movement of Lithuania's Liberation as an organisation of overall coordinated armed resistance against the Soviet occupation, and the Council of the Movement - as the sole legal authority in the territory of the occupied Lithuania.
Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania appreciated the significance of the 1949 February 16 Declaration to the succession of Lithuania's statehood and adopted the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the 1949 February 16 Declaration of the Council of the Movement of Lithuania’s Liberation on 12 January 1999 awarding for the document a status in the legal system of the Republic of Lithuania, and acknowledged it as an act of significance to the succession of Lithuania's statehood.

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