Vilnius holds funeral for Lithuanian partisan commander Ramanauskas-Vanagas (Updated)

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Vilnius is hosting a solemn state funeral for Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, a Lithuanian armed anti-Soviet resistance commander, on Friday.

Updates throughout.

His remains were discovered at the Orphans' Cemetery in Vilnius later this year.

The coffin covered with a Lithuanian tricolor was on Friday morning brought to Vilnius University Saint Johns' Church and was met by members of the family, Lithuania's Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas and sanctified by Vilnius Archbishop Gintaras Grušas.

At noon, President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and Speaker of the Seimas will honor the memory of the partisan leader, and members of the public will be able to pay final respects until the evening.

The funeral will take place at Antakalnis Cemetery on Saturday afternoon.

Ramanauskas-Vanagas, the commander of the Dzūkija region in southern Lithuania, was among the partisan leaders who signed the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters' Declaration in 1949.

Partisan groups began to form in Lithuania in 1944 in response to Soviet repressions and deportations and forced conscription to the Red Army. The organized armed resistance against the Soviet occupation ended in 1953.

Ramanauskas-Vanagas was arrested by the Soviets in 1956 and was executed a year later.

His remains were discovered and identified earlier this year.

A guerilla war was launched in the Baltic states after the Soviet army pushed the Nazis out in the summer of 1944 and occupied the Baltic country for a second time, which was followed by Soviet repressions, terror and mobilization to the Soviet army.

The first partisan groups were formed in Lithuania in late summer of 1944. They wore Lithuanian army uniforms and were mainly young man who underwent military training in these groups.

Large groups of partisans of up to 100 members were formed in 1944-1946. Around 30,000 men were active almost across the whole territory of Lithuania, except for cities. They fought the Soviet Union's NKVD units, impeded the election of occupation government, put election offices under fire, and resisted the forced establishment of collective farms.

The scale of resistance in Lithuania was the largest out of the three Baltic states. Some still had hope in the West and believed that the Communist rule would not take long and that the United States and United Kingdom would keep their Atlantic Charter promises to restore independence for countries which lost it during the war.

After losing around 10,000 of men in the second phase of freedom fighting in 1946-1948, partisans formed smaller groups, installed bunkers and shifted to the usual guerilla war tactics. Partisans managed to create central structures but they were soon destroyed.

On Feb. 1949, partisans adopted a declaration setting out the goal of restoring a democratic State of Lithuania.

Organized armed fighting ended in the spring of 1953.

Source: BNS
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