Are Lithuanians communists? | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Did Lithuania join the Soviet Union and was Lithuania communist?

No, Lithuania never joined the Soviet Union and very few Lithuanians were communists. Lithuania was illegally occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 using coercion and the presence of the Soviet military force.

In 1939, the Soviet Union presented an ultimatum to Lithuania requiring Lithuania to permit Soviet troops into its territory. The number of the Soviet troops required to accept was larger than the number of soldiers of the Lithuanian army. Understanding that resistance was futile (at the time the Soviet Union cooperated with Nazi Germany and had recently defeated Poland), Lithuania accepted the ultimatum. Lithuania briefly remained independent but the Soviet troops within its territory effectively made it impossible to defend its territory. In 1940 they were used as a pressure tool to depose the government of Lithuania. The president of Lithuania fled to the USA.

Soon after the occupation, Soviets began expulsions and mass murders of various Lithuanian population groups.

Had Lithuania rejected the ultimatum of 1939, it would have faced a certain war against the Soviet Union. Finland rejected a similar ultimatum in 1939, resulting in Winter War. Latvia and Estonia accepted similar ultimatums.

In Lithuania, communism was never popular. Even in theory, it couldn't have been, as, prior to the Soviet occupation, Lithuania was an agricultural country with few industrial workers and Maoism was not yet born. Furthermore, Lithuanian land had already been redistributed from the nobility to peasants during the 1920s land reform. This meant that the regular Lithuanian peasants (rather than some aristocrats who inherited their lands) were the primary targets for Soviet nationalization-of-most-property and mass-persecution campaigns. At the time the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in 1940, Lithuania's communist party was minuscule in size (~1400 members) and even within that party, less than half of the active members were ethnic Lithuanians (the ethnic composition of key Lithuanian Communist Party cadres in 1937, according to Comintern data, was: Lithuanians - 46%, Jews - 45%, others (mostly Russians) - 9%; in comparison, the ethnic composition of the general population of Lithuania was Lithuanians - 80%, Jews - 7%, Russians - 2%).

Generally, the Lithuanian Communist Party was regarded by most Lithuanians to be merely a vehicle of anti-Lithuanian activities and collaboration with the Soviets. The majority strongly opposed the occupation and many have fought against the Soviet Union as guerillas.

Lithuanian freedom fighter officer awards a female citizen. In 1944-1953 Lithuanian forests sheltered an entire guerilla state with its own government, army, and courts of law. Afterwards, it was crushed by the Soviet armies.

While there were more Lithuanians who joined the Soviet communist party after the occupation began to seem undefeatable, most of those people simply did it for gains in influence and material conditions (membership in the Communist party was beneficial for a career in Soviet-occupied Lithuania).

Moreover, once the possibility of restoring Lithuania became real (~1989), even the Lithuanian members of the Soviet Communist Party severed their ties with the Soviet Communist Party and created a separate Lithuanian Communist Party, which soon renamed itself Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party and abandoned any relations with communism or dictatorship.

How did the myth of Lithuania joining the Soviet Union and being communist appear?

This myth rests entirely in the Soviet propaganda which sought to promote the Soviet Union as peacefully unified.

Soviet historians worked hard in order to find communist Lithuanians in the history of pre-WW2 (pre-Soviet-occupied) Lithuania. Soviet propaganda has suddenly elevated these once-barely-known figures to the status of leaders, martyrs, and representatives of the "real opinions" of the whole Lithuanian nation. Supposedly, the existence of a few Lithuanian communists before the Soviet occupation proved that Lithuania wanted communism and to be a part of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union tried to promote itself as a kind of European Union of today, where nations have supposedly joined on their own will and still retained some independence. This was far from the case, however, as the Soviet Union was basically expanded by conquest and the conquered lands (including Lithuania) had almost no real autonomy and definitely no right to secede. The rights of the Republics that were written in the Soviet laws were not actually given in practice.

Why is the myth of the once-communist Lithuania so insulting to Lithuanians?

Communism always was and still is a real anathema to most Lithuanians, a system responsible for their country being economically ravaged. The Soviet occupation resulted in hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian deaths (see "Soviet Union has liberated Lithuania" myth) and this was something most Lithuanians foresighted but simply had no means to resist, being a small nation.

In Lithuania, the word "communist" thus has a very negative meaning. Genuine communists and pro-Soviet people are widely regarded to be either idiots (those who are "too stupid to understand" that the far-leftist economic system leads to even more poverty, even all the genocides aside), and/or people full of cruel hatred because of their own jealousy and prejudices. By claiming "Lithuanians were communists" or "Lithuanians willingly joined the Soviet Union", one does not merely wrongly interprets history, one (in the eyes of Lithuanians) essentially claims that Lithuanian people are either idiots or hateful murderers, and that they are themselves responsible for their 20th-century tragedies. Among ethnic Lithuanians, being called "a communist" basically has the same level of insult as being called "a Nazi" does, due to the fact that both regimes perpetrated genocides.

Interestingly, there is another exactly opposite (and equally wrong) myth that Lithuania supported Nazi Germany during World War 2.

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  1. God bless the good people of Lithuania.never let freedom escape again.

  2. I visited Lithuanian in 92 on the anniversary of its its Independence Day. Saw the joyful celebrations in the countryside and Vilnius. I remember the guard watch towers along the Polish border.
    I recommend everyone read The Forest Brothers about the partisan movement.

  3. Užaugau sovietinėje Lietuvoje. Pasiilgau tų dienų…

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