Lithuanian Partisans' Collection in Lithuanian Special Archives
The collection is held in the Lithuanian Special Archive. The archive was arranged to manage a special collection of material that consists mostly of Soviet Lithuanian KGB, Communist Party and Interior Ministry documents. Documents from these former institutions are recognised by the Lithuanian government as material of special status, and they are separated from other government archive documents. The Lithuanian Special Archive is a governmental institution that supervises, keeps, stores and initiates legislation regarding this special group of documents.
The collection is part of this group. It holds various documents about Lithuania’s anti-Soviet armed resistance in 1944-1953. While the partisan movement is related more to the resistance rather than to cultural opposition issues, the collection includes creative work by partisans, such as poetry, drawings, works of art, cards, and other items. The existence of this kind of work demonstrates the phenomenon of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet resistance and cultural opposition which was not limited only to armed rebellion. Partly because of this, the partisan resistance has a deep influence today on the Lithuanian historical memory.
Vilnius, 40 Gediminas avenue, 01110 Lithuania
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Name of collection
- K.5. The Collection of Lithuanian Partisan Documents
Provenance and cultural activities
The origin of the collection is based on two sources. The first is the enthusiasm of some sectors of society to research and discover the history of Lithuania’s partisan movement. It started at the end of the 1980s, and today it is a wide network of various groups who are interested in partisan history. These small groups act like ‘history detectives’ to try to find new material that was hidden from the Soviet government by the partisans during the anti-Soviet armed rebellion, and later secretly preserved. They use local logistics, stories and accounts by partisans and their supporters who survived in order to find these documents.
On the other hand, the Lithuanian Special Archive undertakes to keep all files and documentation relating to Lithuania’s anti-Soviet armed rebellion. According to Lithuanian law, partisan documents belong to an area of special files, and should be held and restored in a proper way, according all the rules of archivists.
The collection was founded in 1994 after the Lithuanian Special Archive learned about the activities of the Atmintis (Memory) community. This group of enthusiasts (Česlovas Kišonas and others), based in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, found two buried milk churns full of partisan documents. These documents belonged to the Prisikėlimas (Revival) partisan unit. The Atmintis community agreed to give the documents to the archive. Based on this material, the Lithuanian Special Archive launched a major permanent project that seeks to find out and make contact with all similar groups (communities) that have documents about the partisan movement. Because of this, the collection differs from other collections in the archive which hold files relating to the Soviet secret service, not the partisans.
While many files in the collection are related to the anti-Soviet armed rebellion, and include documents like reports by partisan units about battles with the NKVD, and other organisational material, some documents show creative work by partisans. Anti-Soviet posters, greetings cards and partisan poetry were an important part of the anti-Soviet armed rebellion. They reveal the partisans’ attitudes towards Soviet policy, and counter-propaganda measures. This creative work is very impressive in view of the difficult working conditions: the lack of paper and other material, working in the forests, and so on. Therefore, the collection represents a phenomenon of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet armed rebellion that was not limited to armed resistance only.
Despite major attempts by the archive to gather all sources relating to the Lithuanian partisan movement from every area of Lithuanian, the activity is sometimes greeted by misunderstandings and refusals to collaborate by local ethnographers and groups of enthusiasts, who consider the documents they have found to be part of their local history. According to Kęstutis Remeika, negotiating with these local communities is not easy. Sometimes the situation has led to the improper keeping of documents, which causes damage and even the destruction of some documents.
Description of content
The collection consists of ten inventories (apyrašai), covering various partisan districts in Lithuania. The first four inventories include documents that were received from the Atmintis community. Later, very similar inventories were made regarding other partisan districts. Creative work by partisans is part of each inventory. Thus, the collection is divided into inventories regarding partisan units, and not spheres of activity, like reports, creative work, and so on. For example, the first inventory in the collection holds 236 files with various documents of partisans from the Maironis division Prisikėlimas (Revival) military district. While many of them are directly related to the anti-Soviet armed resistance, some of these files could be relevant to the cultural opposition. We should mention file 232, Girių aidas (Echo of the Forests), a collection of partisan poetry and songs covering 86 pages. This inventory holds four files directly related to the cultural opposition of the division: Partizanų parašyti eilėraščiai (Poetry by Partisans, file 231), Atvirutės, piešiniai, leidinių antraštės (Postcards, drawings, title pages of publications, file 235), and the above-mentioned Girių aidas. The same structure applies to other inventories in the collection which cover different partisan districts and their divisions.
One might argue that the collection includes some files that are not ascribed to the partisan movement, such as the hand-written memoirs and poetry of Soviet deportees. According to Kęstutis Remeika, the deputy director of the Lithuanian Special Archive, this is because of the particularity of the collection, how the documents were received. He thinks that these kinds of document will later be transferred to another collection.
- cartoons & caricatures: 10-99
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Vilnius, 40 Gediminas avenue, 01110 Lithuania
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
- No publication
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
Remeika Kęstutis, interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, September 22, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection