An Army never Created: Lithuanian National Units in Russia and their Veterans Organisation in Lithuania in the Interwar Period
Volume 34 (2017): The Great War in Lithuania and Lithuanians in the Great War: Experiences and Memories = Didysis karas Lietuvoje ir lietuviai Didžiajame kare: patirtys ir atmintys, pp. 101–122
Pub. online: 15 December 2017 Type: Article Open Access
15 December 2017
15 December 2017
The formation of national units in the Russian army began in 1914 during the First World War. They allowed for the creation of national formations of Poles, Czechs, Armenians, Georgians and Latvians. After the February revolution of 1917, at a similar time to the Estonians and Ukrainians, Lithuanian soldiers who served in the Russian army also started to create units. Formed in different places, the Lithuanian units did not reach the homeland in an organised manner. However, there were repeated attempts to present this Lithuanian military organisation in Russia after the war as the origins of the national army. These attempts intensified when veterans of national units started to come together in Lithuania, and in 1937 they established a separate organisation, the Kariuomenės pirmūnų sąjunga [Association of Army Predecessors]. It highlighted the contribution of Lithuanians to the Great War, but there was not enough time before 1940 to develop its activities as planned. The article reveals the reasons for and the circumstances of the creation of Lithuanian national units, and examines how and why former soldiers from these units, who lived in Lithuania during the interwar period, joined the organisation.