In 1944, as the Eastern Front was approaching Lithuania, which was then still occupied by Nazi Germany, and the Red Army retook the country, a substantial number of civilians and former members of paramilitary organisations joined the armed resistance to sovietisation. For a long time, the history of the anti-Soviet armed resistance, or guerrilla war, in Lithuania has been told as a story of men, dominated by descriptions of their combat action and stories of the dead. The memories of women, mainly helpers and messengers, have been treated as a supplement to this image, but not as a formative factor. Insufficient attention has also been paid to the role of women who fought with weapons in their hands, and the narratives of those who acted simultaneously as partisans and wives and mothers. The aim of this article is to take a multifaceted look at the experiences of women who contributed to the armed anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania. It aims to discuss the changing attitudes of the partisan leadership towards women’s participation in action, to show the diversity of female activity in the partisan war, and to reveal how their involvement in the war contributed to changes in their family roles.
Pub. online:15 Jun 2020Type:Book ReviewOpen Access
Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 40 (2020): The Anti-Soviet Resistance: New Approaches to the Lithuanian Partisan War = Antisovietinė rezistencija Lietuvoje: partizaninio karo tyrimų naujos prieigos, pp. 381–385
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.