An Army never Created: Lithuanian National Units in Russia and their Veterans Organisation in Lithuania in the Interwar Period

Vytautas Jokubauskas

Abstract


The formation of national units in the Russian army began in 1914 during the First World War. They allowedfor the creation of national formations of Poles, Czechs, Armenians, Georgians and Latvians. Afterthe February revolution of 1917, at a similar time to the Estonians and Ukrainians, Lithuanian soldiers whoserved in the Russian army also started to create units. Formed in different places, the Lithuanian unitsdid not reach the homeland in an organised manner. However, there were repeated attempts to presentthis Lithuanian military organisation in Russia after the war as the origins of the national army. Theseattempts intensified when veterans of national units started to come together in Lithuania, and in 1937they established a separate organisation, the Kariuomenės pirmūnų sąjunga [Association of Army Predecessors].It highlighted the contribution of Lithuanians to the Great War, but there was not enough timebefore 1940 to develop its activities as planned. The article reveals the reasons for and the circumstancesof the creation of Lithuanian national units, and examines how and why former soldiers from these units,who lived in Lithuania during the interwar period, joined the organisation.

KEY WORDS: First World War, national units, Russian army, Lithuanian army, veterans organisations,Association of Army Predecessors.


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