Partisan Warfare, Anti-Soviet

   Soviet authorities faced a partisan threat from Ukrainian and Baltic citizens from the first days of World War II. In Lvov in the Ukraine and in Lithuania, nationalists fired on retreating Soviet soldiers in 1941. Moreover, some Soviet soldiers deserted their formations and joined these groups. During the war, these partisan formations grew, developed secret governments, and operated against both the German occupation forces and Soviet partisan bands.
   In 1945 Moscow faced organized military opposition in the Baltic states and western Ukraine. In Lithuania and in some districts of the western Ukraine, nationalists controlled the majority of the populations. Soviet troops following the Germans into the regions were immediately thrown into battle against new enemies. NKVD special groups organized by the Chief Directorate for the Struggle against Banditry (Glavnoe upravlenie borby s banditizom) operated in rebel areas against the partisans, while the military controlled large towns and cities. They established informant nets and forced the rural areas to form self-defense units to isolate partisan commands from their supporters in the population. The NKVD also formed “false gangs” of partisans, which moved into villages to test support for the partisans and the communist authorities. Villages that welcomed these “partisans” were ruthlessly punished. Captured partisans were severely interrogated and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Moscow’s struggle against the anti-Soviet partisans reflected a set of sophisticated political and social policies. There was an exchange of Polish and Ukrainian populations with Poland, which ended the ability of Ukrainian partisans to escape inside Poland. The clergy of the Greek-rite Catholic (Uniate) Church in the western Ukraine were arrested or forced to become Russian Orthodox. In Lithuania, hundreds of Roman Catholic clergy were arrested, and many were deported with their flocks to Siberia. There were positive steps as well: money went into the rebuilding of schools, and some children were selected for secondary and higher education in Kiev and Moscow.
   Resistance to Soviet authority in these regions lasted until the early 1950s. Efforts by Western intelligence agencies to maintain contact with anti-Soviet partisans failed. Deportation of villagers identified as partisan supporters intensified: more than 8 percent of the population of the western Ukraine was deported in 1946–1950. The hunt for partisan leaders intensified. On 5 March 1950, the Soviets identified the hiding place of the commander of the Ukraine Insurgent Army (UKS) and killed him. Resistance in the western Ukraine and Lithuania gradually ended in 1952–1955. In the 1960s and 1970s, many of the deportees returned to their native villages, but thousands died in exile in Siberia and Central Asia.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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