Military Review

"Green Men". Phenomenon first, or whether Moscow invented them

"Green Men". Phenomenon first, or whether Moscow invented them

Part one.
Sacred place: Vilnius in the plans of Lithuania and Poland.

As is known from stories, during the First World War, Lithuania was occupied by Germany. This made it possible for Lithuanian politicians to begin the process of forming an independent state, which would cover the historical lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania together with Vilnius and Kaunas.

Back in 1913-1914. It was easy for skeptics to talk about the impossibility of declaring independence, given that at that time the Russian Empire dominated the Lithuanian lands. But besides Russification, to an even greater extent, the Lithuanian movement was threatened by polonization, primarily at the level of the elite. At that time, the memory of a common historical past was still fresh, and the same religion made Lithuanians an easy target for Polish ideological influence.

The highest point of the Polish - Lithuanian friendship is the Battle of Grunwald in 1410.

Those who were bypassed by Polonization understood that the struggle for the Lithuanian language and, in general, the promotion of independence was impossible without an active struggle against Polish influence. And from here the roots of the future Polish - Lithuanian conflict grew, the center of which was the city of Vilnius and the Vilnius region. Called Vilno by the Poles and Vilnius by the Lithuanians, the city was multilingual, where different cultures and political positions intertwined. For Lithuanians, Vilnius was a symbol of state greatness as the old capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. For Poles, it is an important center of their culture and social life. Poles, Jews, Russians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Tatars, as well as emigrants from Europe lived here in the neighborhood.

According to the Russian (1897) and German (1916) censuses, Vilna was inhabited mainly by Poles and Jews. So, according to the German census of 1916, out of 140 thousand of the population, Poles accounted for 50,1%, and Lithuanians - 2,1%.

Vilnius population data by year (source: Wikipedia)

However, despite these figures, with the consent of the Germans, a conference was held in Vilnius on February 18-23, 1917, as a result of which the Council of Lithuania (Tariba) of 20 representatives was formed. The Lithuanian Tariba elected a Presidium headed by its chairman Antanas Smyatona, and became the only organization whose activities were aimed at restoring the statehood of Lithuania.

State Council of Lithuania TARIBA. 1918 g.

The decision on the political future of Lithuania put forward the idea of ​​an independent Lithuanian state within its ethnographic borders and on democratic principles. The second decision outlined the allied relations of such a state with Germany. On December 11, 1917, the Lithuanian Tariba proclaimed the "Act on the Restoration of the State of Lithuania". It spoke not about an independent, but about an independent Lithuania, linked by allied ties with Germany. Allied ties were secured by "a military convention, a communication convention, a common customs and currency."

Shortly thereafter, on February 16, 1918, the Lithuanian Tariba in the historic capital Vilnius, in a house on ul. Didjoyi at 12 o'clock. 30 minutes. unanimously adopted a resolution on the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania. The sovereignty of the nation state was legally proclaimed. The new republic immediately announced its claims to the former Vilna province and its main city, Vilna.

A new Declaration (quite public, officially sent out to the governments of Russia, Germany and a number of other countries and signed by the full complement of Tariba) was proclaimed day after day, with a statement from the German command that it would end the truce from 12 noon on February 18. The declaration of February 16, 1918 spoke of the "restoration of the independence of the Lithuanians" ("a restauration de l 'Etat de Lithuanien Independent. The use of the verb" restauration "(" a restauration de l' Etat de Lithuanie ") - restoration, restoration This is a clear claim that the new state is a direct descendant and heir of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania with all its history and lands (see the accession of Vilnius to Lithuania. Lithuanian view - site
However, so far there was no talk of the borders of the Lithuanian state (it was only mentioned that the capital would be Vilna). In Tariba, they clearly understood that the issue would not be decided by them. The Germans have already quite clearly outlined the territories that they are ready to give to "independent" Lithuania, having united the military administrations "Lithuania" and "Bialystok-Grodno". Possible claims to land to the east of the border proposed in Brest-Litovsk, backed by the "expressed will of the peoples", they needed rather as a way to put pressure on the Council of People's Commissars, and not as a reason to expand Lithuania - Germany was much more interested in Livonia and Estonia than Minsk region.

Copy of the Act on the Independence of Lithuania dated 16.02.2018

Translation of the Act into Russian:
The Council of Lithuania, at a meeting on February 16, 1918, unanimously decided to address the governments of Russia, Germany and other states with the following declaration:
The Council of Lithuania, as the only representative of the Lithuanian nation, based on the recognized right of peoples to self-determination and on the resolution adopted by the Vilnius Conference on September 18-23, 1917, proclaims the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state based on democratic principles with the capital in Vilnius and the separation of this state from all state ties that have ever taken place with other nations.
The Council of Lithuania also declares that the foundations of the state of Lithuania and its relations with other states are subject to final establishment as soon as possible by a constituent Seimas convened, democratically chosen by all residents of the state.
The Council of Lithuania, informing the government about this ………………… asks for the recognition of the independent state of Lithuania.
In Vilnius, February 16, 1918
Kazys Bizauskas
Dr. Jonas Basanavičius Salyamonas Banaitis Mykolas Biržiška Pranas Dovidaitis Jurgis Šaulis
Steponas Kairis Jokubas Shernas
Petras Klimas Antanas Smetona
Donatas Malinauskas Jonas Smilgyavichus
Vladas Mironas Justinas Staugaitis
Stanislav Narutovich Aleksandras Stulginskis
Alfonas Petrulis Jonas Wijlokaitis
Kazimieras Steaponas Shaulis Jonas Vileisis

On July 11, 1918, the Lithuanian Tariba, on the basis of a legal act by which Germany recognized the statehood of Lithuania, renamed itself the Lithuanian State Tariba. And on July 13, 1918, the Lithuanian State Tariba, in order to block the path of Germany's aspirations to annex the region to Prussia or Saxony, declared Lithuania a constitutional monarchy and invited the Duke of Württemberg Wilhelm von Urach to the throne of Lithuania under the name of King Mindaugas II. The question was also raised about the complete withdrawal of German troops from the territory of the Lithuanian state. The process of withdrawal of German troops began only on November 23, 1918, but in many places the German command held de facto power until the beginning of 1919. Like any new state of that time, Lithuania immediately had to fight for independence with various enemies: Poles, Bolsheviks and whites. troops of Bermont.

After the German occupation army left Vilnius on December 31, 1918, the government of Slaževičius, under the threat of an attack by Polish nationalists and the Red Army, moved to Kaunas. And the Poles, taking advantage of the moment, organized local self-defense. And already on New Year's Eve, 1919, Polish legionnaires, having broken the resistance of the local communist forces, temporarily occupied Vilnius. This seizure involved three battalions of the Self-Defense of Lithuania and Belarus, formed at the end of December 1917 from ethical Poles - former soldiers of the German army. They disarmed the small German units and occupied the town hall. But the German command still continued to control part of the city and the railway station. Given the Polish threat, as noted above, the Lithuanian political leadership fled to Kaunas without even trying to organize resistance and to some extent help the Germans. The Bolsheviks, unlike the Lithuanians, who were also few in number, but who were waiting for the arrival of the Red Army, began to resist the Poles. But not for long. January 2, during the assault by the Poles of the Bolshevik headquarters on the street. Vronoy, 7, 3 were killed and about 70 people were taken prisoner. Five more, not wanting to give up, committed suicide.

Almost immediately, on the night of January 2–3, the Poles also took control of the railway station. At the same time, regular units of the Polish Army approached the city. However, they failed to contain the attacking fervor of the Red Army, and on the evening of January 5, the Poles left Vilno. He comes under the rule of the Bolsheviks. The head of the Polish state, Józef Pilsudski, could not agree with this and was sending additional forces from the Polish - Ukrainian front to Vilna. The first battle with the Red Army took place on January 17. It is interesting to note here that on April 19, 1918, a detachment of 350 bayonets arrived at Vilna by railway, disguised as Red Army soldiers. Using this military trick, the Poles occupied the railway station almost without loss and began successful street battles. On April 21, Polish troops under the command of General Stanislav Sheptytsky completely captured Vilna.

Polish soldiers in Vilna

The next day Yu. Pilsudski issued an appeal “To the population of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania”. In this appeal, he promised to give everyone the opportunity to speak out about which country the population of the region wants to join. Lithuania, of course, spoke out against such a step and regarded the actions of the Poles as an occupation and demanded that Vilna be handed over to it, referring to the city's belonging to the aforementioned principality. For its part, on May 23, 1919, the Polish Seimas adopted a law according to which every inhabitant of this region has the right to speak out about nationality. Warsaw did not doubt the results of such a plebiscite. The Poles reacted to this appeal with enthusiasm, the Belarusians - indifferently, but the Lithuanians became worried. The government in Kaunas strongly opposed such intentions of Warsaw. The plans of the federal arrangement of Poland by Yu. Pilsudski, who wanted to secede from the Russian danger (albeit white, albeit red) by a chain of Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine allied to Poland (naturally, with borders advantageous for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and not for these states), aroused fears among the Lithuanians ... They feared that this would cause irreparable damage to their national consciousness and gradually lead to complete assimilation. In addition, the Poles were ready to leave behind the Lithuanians only the territory of historical Zhmudia and the northern part of the Suvalka province. And, of course, without Vilnius. A little earlier, on March 23, 1919, German troops handed over to the Lithuanians administrative control over the north of the Suwalki region, including Suwalki, Augustow and Sejny.

In July 1919, at the Paris conference, the Supreme Council established a demarcation line for the disengagement of Polish and Lithuanian troops, which ran 12 km west of Grodno, Vilna and Dineburg. This line was named after the French marshal Foch, its initiator. Vilna remained on the Polish side, but soon red flags began to fly over it.

Foch line shown in dark green

Warsaw did not abandon its attempts to overthrow the Lithuanian government. To this end, the Polish military organization (POW, POW, Polish. Polska Organizacja Wojskowa) prepared a coup, which aimed to destroy the government of Tariba and capture Kaunas and the surrounding area. The coup should have brought a pro-Polish government to power, which would have ensured the annexation of Lithuania to Poland. But this plan was thwarted by the Lithuanian intelligence, which revealed the plans of the conspirators, carried out their mass arrests on the night of August 28-29. 117 accused were brought before a military court in Kaunas on December 14-24, 1920 and were sentenced to various punishments.

The Polish military organization (Polska Organizacja Wojskowa) is an underground (illegal) paramilitary organization created during the First World War in order to fight for the liberation of Polish territories from Russian rule. In some sources it is called the "Polish military organization".
It was created in November 1914 on the initiative of Jozef Pilsudski by the union of the Rifle Union and the Polish Rifle Militia. Initially, the organization operated in the Kingdom of Poland, then expanded its activities to Galicia, also to Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and other western territories of the then Russia. She was primarily engaged in sabotage and intelligence gathering; some of the organization's members simultaneously served in the armed forces of the Central Powers.

Yu Pilsudski with members of the Polish Military Organization, 1917.

The secret patronage of the organization was provided by the German authorities. The governing body was the Central National Committee (Polish: Centralny Komitet Narodowy), the main commandant was Józef Piłsudski. After Germany occupied the Kingdom of Poland and its capital Warsaw, the organization was legalized, most of its members joined the Polish legions. In 1917, after Pilsudski's order that Polish soldiers serving in the armies of the Central Powers should not swear an oath of allegiance to Germany and Austria-Hungary, he was interned by the German authorities, part of the organization's members were arrested and interned in camps in Schyporno and Grodówka. the organization went underground again. The organization's activities were directed, in addition to the former enemy, also against Germany and Austria. The Polish military organization was headed by Edward Rydz-Smigly. The political leadership was carried out by a conspiratorial convention led by Endzhey Morachevsky. In the fall of 1918, members of the organization participated in the disarmament of German and Austrian soldiers in the Kingdom of Poland and other Polish territories and in their withdrawal from Poland. In mid-November, members of the Polish Military Organization blocked the Austrian garrisons in Galicia, ensuring Polish control of the territory. Since November 1918, about 400 fighters of the organization participated in the defense of Lviv from the Secheviks of the West Ukrainian People's Republic. With the formation in November 1918 of the Provisional People's Government of Poland in Lublin, the Polish Military Organization became the armed forces of this government. In December 1918, the organization merged with the emerging Polish army. Later, essentially autonomous formations arose that maintained contacts with the national organization of the same name and had the same goals. In February 1918, the Polish Military Organization of the Prussian Lands (Polish: Polska Organizacja Wojskowa Zaboru Pruskiego) was formed. She organized the Wielkopolska Uprising and became the basis of the rebel armed forces (Army of Wielkopolska).

In February 1919, the Polish Military Organization of Upper Silesia (Polish: Polska Organizacja Wojskowa Górnego Śląska) and the Military Organization of Pomerania (Polish: Organizacja Wojskowa Pomorza) were created. In Lithuania, the Polish military organization was preparing an armed political coup, scheduled for the end of August 1919.

In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, during mass repressions against Poles, including communists and leaders of the Comintern, they were usually accused of belonging to the "Polish Military Counter-Revolutionary Organization", "the spy-terrorist group Polish Military Organization", "sabotage and the spy network of Polish intelligence in the USSR, which existed in the form of the so-called "Polish military organization" (source: Wikipedia)

Another episode of confrontation in the regions is the Sejny uprising. It lasted from 23 to 28 August 1919 after the German troops left the city. It is considered to be an independent initiative of local Poles. At the disposal of the commander of the Suwalki POW district, Lieutenant Adam Rudnitsky, there were then about a thousand conspiratorial and armed fighters. They were consolidated into 5 infantry companies and one cavalry squadron. The Lithuanians in this area had 1200 bayonets and 120 sabers.

The calculation of the Polish underground was based on the quick approach of the Polish regular units. On the night of 23 August, the Polish rebels, under the command of Second Lieutenant Vaclav Zawadsky, moved to Sejny. The Lithuanians did not expect an attack and their units were quickly disarmed, and the city itself was taken after a short battle. After the seizure in Sejny and its environs, the new government carried out "delituenization": the local Lithuanian population was taken out beyond the demarcation line, Lithuanian schools were closed. The Lithuanians launched a counteroffensive at 4.30 on 26 August. Within 2 hours they drove the Poles out of the settlements on the Lithuanian side of the Foch line and from the city of Sejny. The help that the Poles were waiting for did not come. Later it became known that the offensive of the 41st Suwalki Infantry Regiment was delayed by the Polish command. But despite this, the Seins changed hands several times. Eventually, the rebels began to feel an acute shortage of men, weapons and medicines. But the approach of regular Polish units saved the rebels from the final defeat by the Lithuanians. By September 9, the Foch line was taken under control by regular troops on both sides of the conflict, and fighting in the region quickly died out.

Despite the spontaneity of the uprising, it was nevertheless prepared by the Polish military organization. And Pilsudski himself knew about the preparations for the uprising and supported it. But the premature seizure of Sejny by the underground and the reciprocal mobilization of Lithuanian forces thwarted the coup d'état planned by Warsaw, which was supposed to bring the pro-Polish government to power.

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  1. Andrey Sukharev
    Andrey Sukharev 3 September 2018 05: 55
    Thank you to the author, but the ending of the article is somehow crumpled, it would be possible to briefly describe further Polish-Lithuanian relations.
    1. Paranoid50
      Paranoid50 3 September 2018 16: 09
      Quote: Andrey Sukharev
      We could briefly describe further Polish-Lithuanian relations.

      Duc, to this day psheks look at the Lithuanian lands with slight disappointment: "oh, sorry, not ours ..." Yes And that's all - friends, neighbors, are members of NAT, and Dahl is kissing his gums with the Polish leadership. laughing
  2. Fisherman
    Fisherman 3 September 2018 10: 41
    The article is interesting. And what has the "little green men" to do with it? Not understood.
  3. Basil50
    Basil50 3 September 2018 10: 47
    The author of something about * green men *. But in fact, the Poles captured Vilnius and then announced that it was a * private initiative *. However, the Poles often used such a feint in wars with neighbors, even Bulak-Balakhovich, after having defeated his army at once, became a private person along with the army.
    And why, conveniently, there is no need to declare war and in case of failure there is always an extreme.
  4. vladcub
    vladcub 3 September 2018 13: 33
    Quote: Andrey Sukharev
    Thank you to the author, but the ending of the article is somehow crumpled, it would be possible to briefly describe further Polish-Lithuanian relations.

    I agree: the material is interesting and could be completely divided into 2 parts: before September 1919 and after 1919. It seems to me that the Poles did not "breathe evenly" towards Lithuania for a long time.
    And the Germans played both yours and ours: they patronized the Lithuanian Tariba and POW, while those had "sympathy" for each other like a watchdog for fleas
  5. Theodore
    Theodore 3 September 2018 18: 44
    Nus, wait as Zheligovsky, Vilnonash did!
  6. alexsipin
    alexsipin 7 October 2018 12: 35
    Vilno was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Grand Duchy of Lithuania). GDL has to do with modern Lithuania, the same as Romania with the Roman Empire, i.e. a former conquered province that has taken on the name of the metropolis. The real name of modern Lithuania is Zhmud. The assignee of ON is Belarus and, accordingly, Vilno should belong to it. This is understandable from the name of the city with a Russian name (neither Polish nor Lithuanian), given the name of the river flowing there and meaning free i.e. fast.