Forest Brothers

The account of an Anti-Soviet Lithuanian freedom fighter, 1944–1948
Author: 
Translator: 
ISBN: 
978-963-9776-37-1
cloth
$55.00 / €50.00 / £45.00
ISBN: 
978-963-9776-58-6
paperback
$27.95 / €24.00 / £22.99
Publication date: 
2009
422 pages, includes cca 50 black and white photos

An autobiographical account of the armed resistance against the Soviet Union, which took place between 1944–1956. Published in English for the first time in unabridged form, Lukša’s memoir remains one of the few reliable eye-witness accounts of the “Invisible Front”, as dubbed by Soviet security forces.

At its zenith 28,000 guerilla fighters participated in battles and skirmishes throughout Lithuania, Lukša (partisan codename Daumantas) being one of the leaders. Forest Brothers also documents the role of women in the resistance, giving equal credit to these often silent partners.

In 1948 Lukša and two comrades broke through the Iron Curtain on the Polish border. He sought training from the French intelligence and from the CIA. Lukša was flown back into the Soviet Union under the radar on the night of October 4, 1950. He managed to survive and operate eleven months until his near capture and death on the night of September 5, 1951. His account, written during 1948–1950, while he was living in hiding in Paris, describes in vivid scenes and dialogue the daily struggles of the resistance.

Introduction

The Invisible Front: Lithuania’s Armed Resistance Against the Soviet Union – Laima Vincė

Account from the Frontierlands of History. The reports by Juozas Lukša to the Swedish Intelligence regarding the Lithuanian resistance – Jonas Ohman

Part I. The decision to stay on our native land, July 1944–July 1945

Between home and Kaunas
The occupiers change
We go into hiding
Vosily’s warning
Burning personal files in the crematorium
Our friendship with the Red Army soldiers
The Red Army ransacks the villages
Forced labor digging ditches and building airports
Recruitment for the front
Travel documents
First news of the partisans
In the student dorms
The fate of property left behind
Feeding and heating the University
The student council
Student arrests begin
Lithuanian soldiers are deported to Siberia
My brother’s turn came
Mardi Gras
Hours and days spent outside the Kaunas jail
Looting the middle class families of prisoners
My brother is released: his friends are deported to Siberia

The armed resistance
Organizational concerns
The partisan movement
Collaborators
Partisans of foreign extraction
The Iron Wolf regiment
Accounts of a few partisan battles
The northeastern partisan units
The Samogitian partisans
The partisans of central Lithuania
The partisans act against Bolshevik plans
Provocation units in Suvalkija

Part II. Choosing the Fate of a Partisan, July 1945–January 1946
There was no other choice
Our first days spent with the partisans
The atomic bomb
Setting up the Tauras military district
Bartašiūnas’s amnesty
The church choir
The tragedy on October eighteenth
In the Iron Wolf regiment
The thieves of Vainatrakis
The interrogator Varnas
The battle at the Laukas family farm
Dealing with thieves in Paprienis
The grain collectors
Celebrating Christmas Eve with the partisans
A partisan Christmas
My brother and I finally set out

Part III. On the Partisan Road, January 1946–May 1947

Taking my first steps as a partisan
Recon
Working for the press
The trip to Dainava
Visiting with a former American
The Bolshevik and the partisan press
Under Astra’s supervision
In the forest camp
The journey by sledge
The approaching elections
The pre-election campaign
Election day
The election results
Searching the forests and villages
The fate of the proletariat
From the gymnasium to the forest
The Ford and Studebaker bonfire
The deportations
Guarding deserted farmsteads
The fighter Nastė
Blood for the press
A prohibition on home brew
Desecrating fallen partisans
The right to chose work
Uniting the partisans
Evaluating our activities
Building a bunker
Again on unification
Two visitors from the west
The trip through the cleansing operation
The partisans ambush the Bolsheviks
In the market square
Mykolas Jonas is killed
We lose Vabalas and Gegužis
More manhunts

Taking on a position of leadership
For bravery and courage
Requisitioning food for the partisans
Taking measures against the Stribai
Žvainys is arrested and interrogated
The journey by train
Visiting the Vytautas district
Christmas Eve 1946
Retreating from Vilnius
Setting up the Birutė regiment
The “black cat” of Kaunas
Poverty in the city
The partisan provocateurs
New assignments
The massive interrogations
Mažvydas and Pušelė’s “engagement” party
The aftermath
More Bolshevik killings

Part IV. Breaking through the iron curtain to the West, June 1947–December 1947

The first journey
Approaching the border
We break through the Iron Curtain
On the Polish side of the border

The west recommends we return and wait
A stormy return
Visiting with a freedom fighter from Lithuania’s first fight for independence
Thieves informing for the NKVD
Bolshevik legs over our heads
We are persecuted, but we continue to sing
The report from the west
The deputy at the demonstration
The fighters Varnas and Vaidilutė
Partisan martyrs
A meeting with the district leader
My dream becomes reality
The Dainava headquarters are surrounded
Preparing the troops
In the city of lean-tos
Not everyone arrived safely
Who were those people who went to fight in the forests
The liaison man Artūras
Two women wander into camp
A punishment for unnecessary brashness
A sudden attack
The heroes of Raišupis
The tragedy at the bunker of the Birutė unit headquarters
Implementing a plan with percentages
A trap in Kaunas
Again tragedy strikes in the Birutė unit
Fighting against the collectivization of farms

Once more to the west
Preparing for the march
Traveling through East Prussia
Russian collective farm workers
A bloody trip across the Rominta river
On polish soil
A Christmas miracle in the manger

Afterword
A journey into the heart: a post-war love story – Laima Vincė

Appendix

Index

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