MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
The Russian Ministry of Defense launches a multimedia section within the framework of the “No Statute of Limitations” projects “Gratitude for Freedom: Delete, Forget, Destroy”dedicated to preserving the memory of the Red Army soldiers who died during the liberation of the Lithuanian SSR.
In the summer of 1944, the Red Army began to liberate the Lithuanian SSR from the Nazi occupation. Here the Soviet soldiers met a defense in depth and fierce resistance from German troops, who were trying to prevent them from reaching the borders of East Prussia. Despite this, in the course of a number of offensive operations, the Red Army liberated the republic in bloody battles.
Irrecoverable losses of Soviet troops in the battles for the liberation of the territory of the Lithuanian SSR amounted to 137,200 people. However, even more Red Army soldiers were buried on these lands: in addition to those killed in 1944, the remains of tens of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war, as well as Red Army soldiers who died in the most difficult defensive battles in the summer of 1941, are buried here. In total, 269 memorial signs and graves of the Great Patriotic War have survived in Lithuania.
Since mid-2008, the struggle against monuments and memorials to the fallen soldiers-liberators has intensified in the Baltics. Since December 2017, the Lithuanian side has effectively blocked Russian activities to repair memorials and restore the burial sites of Red Army soldiers. Thus, the country’s authorities are striving for the complete destruction of monuments to Soviet soldiers and officers, which, in turn, becomes a pretext for the transfer and even removal of graves. The Lithuanian side is trying to erase its own heroes from the history of the country – the Lithuanians who heroically fought against the Nazi invaders in the ranks of the Red Army and who died here: more and more often memorials to nationalists – bloody accomplices of the Nazis – are erected in the country’s cemeteries, overshadowing the slowly but surely crumbling monuments and monuments to the Red Army soldiers who fell for the Lithuanian land.
In order to counteract the falsifications of history and preserve the memory of the courage and heroism of the soldiers of the Red Army who died in the fierce battles for the freedom of the Lithuanian SSR, the Russian Ministry of Defense publishes a new multimedia section within the framework of the No Statute of Limitations project. It published historical materials from the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, testifying to the bloody battles for the liberation of the republic and the heroes-liberators, as well as photographic evidence of the minor Lithuanian “war” with the great past.
The photographs section and the registration card of the military burial located in the village of Zhalyoyi open. Here, in the cemetery of Soviet soldiers, 1,157 soldiers of the 11th Guards Army, who died in August 1944, are buried. The materials presented indicate that the local memorials need the restoration of inscriptions, the repair of the fence, the leveling of the borders and concrete tiles, and the cleaning of the main monument. However, the Lithuanian side does not give permission to carry out repair and restoration work.
The story of one of the Soviet officers buried here is remarkable and symbolic. The pilot of the 115th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Guard Lieutenant Leonid Krivoshein fought in the squadron “Soviet Lithuania”. This unit was created with funds raised by the Lithuanians themselves, which is confirmed by the published order to the personnel of the 146th Fighter Aviation Regiment (the former name of the unit) dated February 20, 1943: aircraft built with funds raised by the people of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. ” In this document, the regiment commander assures the government of the Lithuanian SSR that the personnel “will make every effort and skill to shoot down German predators in the air as much as possible on Soviet Lithuania aircraft and smash enemy personnel and equipment on the ground.”
During the liberation of the Lithuanian SSR, the Red Army achieved significant successes as a result of the front-line Shauliai offensive operation (July 5–31, 1944). The troops of the 1st Baltic Front advanced here from 100 to 400 kilometers, liberating a huge territory of the country from occupation, including a large railway junction – the city of Shauliai.
The section presents photographs of the memorial to Soviet soldiers located in the center of this city, which was demolished in early December 2019. The monument was erected in the place where the remains of more than 50 Soviet soldiers were reburied after the end of the Great Patriotic War. Representatives of veteran organizations and the Russian Embassy in Lithuania opposed its demolition, but the authorities did not listen to them.
The published registration card of the burial testifies that “53 Soviet soldiers who died in 1944 were buried in the center of Shauliai, near the church. Monuments: to Major General A.I. Pomoshnikov and to the Heroes of the Soviet Union Averin NS, Evgrafov SP, Lysenko F.K “.
The multimedia section contains a list of the buried and awards documents with a description of their heroic and selfless deeds. So, in the award list for the commander of the artillery regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Sadofiy Yevgrafov, about the posthumous awarding of the title of Hero of the Soviet Union to him, it is said that, being personally at the observation post, he caused artillery fire on himself when German tanks and infantry came close to him. So in this battle the settlement “… Kruopiai (30 kilometers north of Siauliai – editor’s note) was held by our units thanks to the personal courage and courage of Lieutenant Colonel Evgrafov.” The enemy was scattered, Sadofiy Evgrafov then remained intact. He heroically died from an enemy shell in one of the following battles, when he was also at the observation post.
Another Soviet soldier buried in Siauliai – deputy battalion commander for political affairs of the Guard Captain Pyotr Bezyazychny – was posthumously nominated for the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st degree. As stated in the award document published in the section, the political instructor skillfully inspired his soldiers to win: “Reflecting the enemy’s counterattacks, comrade. In the days of the hottest battles, the languageless man was all the time in the combat formations of the units, organized the personnel, gave his instructions on taking measures to hold the line of defense, inspired his subordinates to perseverance, to heroic deeds. On 19.8 the battalion repulsed up to 8 counterattacks, which followed one after the other and inflicted great losses on the enemy in manpower and equipment. ” These lines also testify to the fierce resistance of the enemy, which is confirmed by the published operational documents.
For example, the combat log of the 267th Infantry Division of the 1st Baltic Front says that the fascist garrison of the city opposing the Red Army troops had an order “to keep Shauliai behind them at all costs.” The infantrymen of the 267th Rifle did not allow the fascists to complete this task: “… by 1:00 28.7, the division’s units had seized a junction of highways and railways, an important stronghold of the Germans on the approaches to the Baltic Sea coast – the city of Shauliai. Completely cleared of the enemy, and at the same time taking a lot of prisoners and trophies. “
One of the most important and bloodiest operations carried out by Soviet troops during the liberation of Lithuania was the Kaunas offensive operation (July 28 – August 28, 1944), during which the Red Army captured a powerful fortified enemy area – the fortress city of Kaunas (Kovno). Its ancient powerful bastions were prepared for a long-term defense with all the vaunted “Aryan” thoroughness, but could not hold back the onslaught of the Red Army units …
Today there are several Soviet mass graves in Kaunas, one of which is located in the Aukstein Shanchai region. As the photos presented in the section show, the memorial, which has not received proper care over the past few years, is being destroyed. Thus, an act of vandalism was committed over the sculpture “The Liberator Warrior”: unknown persons sawed down the top of the banner. Another sculpture “Grieving Mother” is gradually being destroyed, urgent repairs are required with re-facing of granite slabs. And nearby, in the immediate vicinity of the dying Soviet monuments, the local authorities have erected a high-quality monument dedicated to the “victims of the Soviet occupation”, which is regularly and thoroughly looked after.
The published record card of the Soviet military burial site says: “At the site of fierce battles in July 1944 in the Aukstein Shanchai district of Kaunas city, 5056 soldiers of the 5th Army were buried in a military cemetery. Here are the graves of 15 Heroes of the Soviet Union: Captain V. Zaitsev, Captain I. Luyev, Captain K. Yagudin, Private I. Shishmakov, Jr. Sergeant D. Gorbunov, Sergeant Major A. Pshenichko, Colonel S. Nesterov, Major V. Kondakov, Jr. Lieutenant V. Petrov, Major N. Vakarin, Captain I. Snitko, Major N. Kalashnikov and underground workers: Y. Aleksonis, G. Borisas, A. Chaponis.
These 15 Red Army soldiers and Lithuanian underground partisans were buried in the north-western part of the cemetery in the Pantheon of Heroes. Section visitors can view their many exploits from the published award materials. Among them there are those who received the Gold Star of the Hero for battles directly in Kaunas. For example, in the award list for Private Ilya Shishmakov, one of the episodes of the storming of the fortress city is described in detail: “Private Shishmakov, on the outskirts of Kaunas, moved ahead of the company’s battle formations. The Germans opened a hurricane of fire. The company lay down, but the brave fighter crawled forward. Hiding in the grass, he crept into the location of the enemy trenches and point-blank shot the enemy’s machine-gun crew from his machine gun. Capturing a machine gun, Shishmakov opened fire on the Nazis from it, exterminating over 30 soldiers. Panic began in the enemy’s camp, but the machine gun soon fell silent: they ran out of cartridges. Shishmakov himself was wounded. The Germans came to their senses, seeing a Soviet machine gunner, they rushed at him. Then Shishmakov threw up his machine gun and blocked the way for the Nazis. In the meantime, the company went on the attack and successfully captured the German trench. “
The award list for the commander of a rifle company, senior lieutenant Izot Vakarin, describes several episodes from his heroic combat path. The document testifies that the Soviet officer always fought to the death: “… the Germans, up to a company, launched a counterattack and, taking advantage of their numerical superiority, surrounded Comrade. Vakarina with a group of 7 fighters. Ammunition was running out, but despite this, he decided to engage in an unequal battle. The drunken fascists walked to their full height and shouted “Rus surrender!”, But Comrade. Vakarin with an exclamation “The Bolsheviks do not surrender!” with a well-aimed grenade throw and a burst from a machine gun, he destroyed the enemies who surrounded him. ” The courage and determination of the senior lieutenant literally roused the fighters to attack under the hurricane fire of the enemy: “During the fifth counterattack, the Nazis approached the positions occupied by Vakarin’s fighters at 80-100 meters. A shell fragment comrade. Vakarin was wounded in the back, but seeing that a critical moment had come, he, straining all his strength, rose to his full height and shouted: “Demidovites! No step back! Forward! Behind me!” lifted everyone up and overthrew the brutal fascists with a decisive blow. “
In addition to award materials about the heroic deeds of the Red Army, the section contains reports and journals of combat actions of units of the 3rd Belorussian Front that stormed Kaunas. These operational documents point to the difficult combat situation in which the Soviet forces were advancing. “The enemy’s mobile cover detachments operated by ambushes on forest roads and clearings,” says the combat log of the 5th Shock Army of the 3rd Belorussian Front.
The documents tell how the Red Army troops liberated Kaunas. For example, the city center, between the Neman River and its tributary Viliya, was liberated by the soldiers of the 72nd Rifle Kovno (this honorary name was given for the liberation of Kaunas) corps. “Corps units conducting stubborn offensive battles, fulfilling their previous mission, knocking down enemy defenses on the near approaches to Kaunas from an intermediate line, developing an offensive and pursuing the enemy in the western direction of 63 SD (rifle division – editor’s note) at 9:00 31.7. captured the city of Kaunas ”- noted in the military unit’s combat log. The next day, when the corps’ 277th rifle division crossed Viliya, the last battles for the city took place: “The 277th SD cleared the northwestern outskirts of the mountains with their units. Kaunas “.
At the same time, units of the 65th Rifle Kovno Corps of the 3rd Belorussian Front stormed the city from the other direction, which is noted in the records of the combat operations log of this military formation: counterattacks, came to the eastern and southeastern outskirts of the mountains. Kaunas. Shooting down the enemy from the defensive line on the outskirts of the city, units of 97 and 371 rifle divisions at 6:00 on 1.8.44. entered the city of Kaunas. By the end of the day, the city was cleared of the enemy. “
The liberation of Kaunas and the crossing of the Nemunas were the initial stage of the Kaunas offensive operation. Its further development was planned to reach the borders of East Prussia in order to prepare the conditions for the defeat of the enemy on its territory. Trying to hold back the powerful onslaught of the Red Army, the Nazis offered the fiercest resistance here.
This is confirmed by the published journal of military operations of the 33rd Army of the 3rd Belorussian Front, operating in this direction: “The army troops, repelling enemy counterattacks and overcoming stubborn resistance, captured several settlements during the day, moved forward” – this entry is dated 1 August 1944. Further it is noted: “From 10:00 the 362nd rifle division fought off seven enemy counterattacks – up to an infantry company, supported by 2-3 tanks each.”
The next day the enemy continued to attack, but “the enemy’s maneuver was opposed by the mobility of our troops. By the end of the day, all the enemy’s counterattacks on the right flank against units of the 62nd rifle corps were repulsed. Moreover, our assault aviation played a big role in repelling enemy counterattacks. ” On August 4, the pressure from the Nazis intensified: “… the troops of the 62nd Rifle Corps during the day repulsed 6 enemy counterattacks with a force from two companies to an infantry regiment supported by 7-20 tanks each.” And already on August 9, the enemy “… launched a counteroffensive, bringing up to 100 tanks and over two infantry regiments into battle.”
Despite the incessant enemy counterattacks, the Soviet troops completed their assigned task and liberated many settlements. Mass graves remained at the site of the battles of this operation and a number of others. Registration cards of these burials, photographs of their memorials, award documents for soldiers and commanders buried here are published in the section.
The Lithuanian side not only refuses to coordinate repair and restoration work, turns a blind eye to manifestations of vandalism, but also opposes any memorial work on the territory of the republic. A typical example of such an obstacle is the memorial located at a Soviet military grave in the city of Kybartai, Vilkavishki district. The surnames of the soldiers, whose identities were recently identified, engraved at the request of their relatives, were primed and painted over at the direction of the Lithuanian authorities.
The record card of the mass grave says that “in the cemetery of Soviet soldiers in Kybartai, 2,280 soldiers of the 5th Army were buried, who died in October 1944 in the city and its environs.” Of all those buried, it was possible to establish the names of only 264 soldiers and commanders. Among them are five border guards who died on June 22, 1941, and three Heroes of the Soviet Union, the award materials on which are published in the section.
So, in the award list for the commander of a tank battalion Senior Lieutenant Mikhail Batrakov about conferring the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, it is noted: “By its actions, the tank company of Senior Lieutenant Batrakov ensured a breakthrough of the German defense and further successful advancement of our tanks and infantry to capture the city of Kaunas (Kovno) “. As follows from the description of the feat, during the battles on the outskirts of the fortified city, his company of 6 T-34 tanks fell into a tank encirclement. “The enemy launched flank attacks, 10 tanks from each side. Having lost half of their tanks, the Germans rolled back. Then, 20-30 minutes later, three more furious enemy tank attacks followed one after the other, and each time the Germans were forced to retreat with heavy losses. In the last attacks, the Germans lost 8 more tanks. After that comrade. Batrakov stood tall in the turret of his tank for better leadership, brought his tank to the front ranks of the fighting and led the company into a decisive counterattack on the enemy. “
The attitude of today’s Lithuanian authorities to their history and heroes (for example, the Lithuanian underground workers and the squadron “Soviet Lithuania”) characterizes the current policy in the country in the best possible way – in order to please the political conjuncture, to destroy and consign to oblivion the memory of the heroic past of their own people.
The publication of declassified documents about the Great Patriotic War from the funds of the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense of Russia is aimed at preserving and protecting the historical truth, at glorifying the feats of Soviet soldiers, at countering the falsifications of history.
Archival documents included in the exposition of the multimedia section have been declassified and published within the framework of the project “No statute of limitations”, implemented on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.