Resistance and Rebellion: Lessons from Eastern Europe

By Roger D. Petersen | Go to book overview

5.
The German Occupation of Lithuania

Lithuanians have a reputation of being among the worst of the German collaborators during the Second World War. Given this reputation, one might expect to see a great deal of movement toward the negative side of the spectrum. There is no doubt that Lithuanians welcomed the invading Germans as liberators in the summer of 1941. As the German occupation continued, however, the bulk of the Lithuanian population maintained neutrality. Contrary to conventional opinion, the number of enthusiastic Nazi collaborators was not high; contrary to some Lithuanian claims, relatively few Lithuanians were involved in active resistance.

This chapter unfolds into three sections: the first establishes movement on the spectrum (or, in this case, its absence) in a short historical review, the second specifies the reasons for the lack of resistance of the Lithuanian population, and the third addresses the lack of collaboration by outlining mechanisms that stymied German efforts to raise an SS division in Lithuania.


Collaboration and Resistance during the
German Occupation

As discussed in previous chapters, the leaders of the Lithuanian Activist Front believed that by establishing a provisional government before the Germans arrived they could force, or at least persuade, the Germans to recognize their sovereignty. The leaders of the provisional government, and probably many other Lithuanians as well, were working from a model based on the events and outcomes of World War I.1 This point cannot be overem-

____________________
1
Space does not allow a proper discussion of the impact of the First World War on GermanLithuanian relations. See Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, War Land: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation on the Eastern Front in World War I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), for an important and detailed analysis.

-153-

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Resistance and Rebellion: Lessons from Eastern Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Figures and Tables xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Mechanisms and Process 32
  • 3 - Lithuania, 1940–1941 80
  • 4 - Rebellion in an Urban Community: the Role of Leadership and Centralization 134
  • 5 - The German Occupation of Lithuania 153
  • 6 - Postwar Lithuania 170
  • 7 - More Cases, More Comparisons 205
  • 8 - Resistance in the Perestroika Period 236
  • 9 - Fanatics and First Actors 272
  • 10 - Conclusions 296
  • Bibliography 305
  • Index 317
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