Antanas Petrikonis : Armed resistance in Lithuania

 

1. Especially in the later years, the fight was really hard... Everyone had lost hope. All their energy, all their ideas were stifled... Lithuania had bled too much, as they say, much too much... Those of us who were left were ready to die, we didn’t even believe ourselves that we would managed to change anything. The times were hard. I remember that when we were marching in 1945, it was something else completely. Everywhere you went, everyone invited you in, respected you, loved you. But later, people got fed up. Not that they were actually fed up, but they began to be afraid. Almost all of us were eliminated, only a few were left. When you went to someone’s house, they didn’t want you to stay. In the later years the fight was particularly difficult. You could say that these great difficulties began after 1949. Until 1947, the Russians did not set up any ambushes, we were masters once night fell. But later they set up huge ambushes and clearing operations, there would be tens of thousands of them surrounding the forest, setting fires all over and then searching the forest inch by inch. Later, we separated into larger groups. In 1945, the groups had 20-30 men. Later, it was just to keep the armed resistance alive. Morale fell, each of us realised that even if we weren’t beaten, the fight was lost. I survived by a miracle, I had seven bullets in me altogether, passing through my clothes and... 

2. Sometimes I think about it and I say to myself that Lithuania bled too much in the post-war years. If they were now all alive, those 26,000 who died in the forests, most of them young men, they would have started families. Most, perhaps 80%, were men of conviction, patriots. They would now have families and the face of Lithuania today would be completely different. But we saved Lithuania’s honour.

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Antanas Petrikonis on 6 November 1951 in prison after his arrest
© Antanas Petrikonis and Museum of Genocide Victims (Vilnius)


All available extracts:

  1. Armed resistance in Lithuania
  2. Thinking back to the armed resistance