Bulvičius with the Lithuanian Armed Forces uniform and state award
|Born||5 May 1908|
|Died||17 December 1941 (aged 33)|
Nizhny Novgorod, USSR
|Alma mater||War School of Kaunas|
Vytautas Magnus University
|Known for||Supreme leader of the June Uprising in Lithuania |
Anti-Soviet resistance member
|A book Karinis valstybės rengimas (Military Training of the State), 1939, 1994, 2018|
|Awards||Order of the Cross of Vytis|
Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas
Vytautas Bulvičius (5 May 1908 – 17 December 1941) was a Lithuanian officer, major of the General Staff, leader of the resistance against the Soviet occupation, and supreme leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front. He wrote numerous articles on military and patriotic themes, and wrote a book-manual entitled Karinis valstybės rengimas (Military Training of the State, 1939, 1994, 2018).
Vytautas Bulvičius was born to the family of the famous book carrier and large farmer Juozas Bulvičius and his wife Marija Bulvičienė. Juozas Bulvičius owned the estate of Simanėliškiai. Vytautas was one of seven children. In 1925 he graduated from the gymnasium of Vilkaviškis. On 7 September 1925, after graduating Kaunas military school, Bulvičius was raised to lieutenant and designated to the 9th infantry regiment of Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytenis in Marijampolė. On 25 September 1928 he was transferred to the armoured vehicle detachment in Kaunas. On 23 November 1929 he was promoted to chief lieutenant. On 31 March 1931 Bulvičius transferred to the Kaunas military school. In 1933 he graduated from Vytautas Magnus University Officer Course, Machine gun specialty. The same year he was promoted to captain. On 1 September 1934 he was transferred to military aviation and appointed as a military pilot of the 6th aviation squadron. In 1934 Bulvičius married Marija Danevičiūtė, and had two daughters - Laima and Dalia.
In 1937, he graduated from the Higher Officers' Courses. From 1937 he served on the General Staff of Lithuania and was promoted to major of the General Staff in 1938. In 1939 he started to teach military discipline and resistance tactics to potential aggressors in the Vytautas Magnus University for the Friday grade students; since 1940, he taught military preparation at the University of Vilnius. Bulvičius also published numerous articles on military and patriotic themes in the journals of military history and tactics: Kardas (The Sword), and Mūsų žinynas (Our Manual).
Resistance in the Lithuanian Activist Front
From 12 March to 19 July 1940 Bulvičius was sent on a mission to the 1st Infantry Regiment of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, deployed in Vilnius. In 1940, after the occupation of Lithuania, the USSR started the gradual liquidation of the Lithuanian army. As a result, Bulvičius was set to the 179th regiment of the Red Army 29th Rifle Corps. Here, he along with other Lithuanian officers and resistance activists, created the “Bulvičius group”, which in 1941 evolved into the Vilnius staff of the Lithuanian Activist Front. Bulvičius became a leader of the Vilnius staff. His deputy was Juozas Kilius, who had a mission to recruit people for the insurrection from the 29th Corps and an officer, the lawyer Aleksandras Kamantauskas. The core of Vilnius’ LAF comprised thirty people. The main task of the Vilnius LAF was to start an uprising relying on trustworthy personnel of the liquidated Lithuanian army from the 29th Corps when the war would launch between the USSR and Germany. The plan was at the beginning of the war to retreat to the woods of Valkininkai and launch a guerilla war against the occupation forces of the USSR. Lieutenant Jonas Valkiūnas and aviation lieutenant Leonas Landsbergis maintained a radio connection with Germany with the hope of receiving ammunition and arms for the insurrection.
During February and March 1941 Bulvičius, together with K. Antanavičius and Juozas Vėbra prepared a plan for LAF insurrection. According to the agreement between the Kaunas and Vilnius insurgent centers, Kaunas staff should solve organisational matters of the uprising, and Vilnius staff, political and military matters, since in Vilnius and its environs Soviet occupants were stationed in the major part of the liquidated Lithuanian army.
The Vilnius staff had to announce the beginning of the uprising and had to read the declaration of the state restitution. LAF Vilnius staff also had to rely on the reliable soldiers from the 29th Rifle Corps, which had the task of eliminating Soviet political commissars (politruks) and Soviet officers first, then marching on Vilnius for the protection of members of the Provisional government.
Kaunas LAF staff had to follow events in Vilnius, take over the Kaunas governance and broadcast news from the freed capital Vilnius.
The Vilnius LAF staff comprised mostly officers: captain Juozas Kilius, captain Juozas Sadzevičius, captain Jonas Vabalas, military pilot Leonas Žemkalnis, lawyers Vladas Nasevičius, Mykolas Naujokaitis, teachers Antanas Skripkauskas, Stasys Mockaitis, deputy of the chief of Vilnius railway station Jurgis Gobis, and others. Bulvičius and LAF Vilnius staff were in touch with LAF staff in Germany, and participated in preparing the Provisional government. Vilnius and Kaunas LAF staff on 22 April, with mutual agreement, prepared a composition of the Lithuanian Provisional government in which Bulvičius was foreseen as a Minister of Defense.
Bulvičius' group was tracked down by detecting their radio connection sessions. According to Pilypas-Žukauskas Narutis, Bulvičius might have been pointed out by Gestapo to NKVD. On 8 June Bulvičius was arrested by the NKVD. After almost the entire Vilnius LAF Staff was arrested, the Kaunas staff took over leadership of the uprising. One week after Bulvičius’ arrest, during the June deportation almost 239 Lithuanian officers from the 29th Rifle Corps were arrested. These arrests made military resistance against the retreating Red Army weaker in Vilnius. The Vilnius Military School of Infantry and the 29th Rifle Corps of the Red Army, in which the remaining Lithuanian officers and soldiers were included were deployed to summer camps in Pabradė and Varėna. Soviet troops which were stationed in Vilnius retreated very fast from the attacking German army. Despite the arrest of the Lithuanian officers, an uprising in Varėna poligone happened on the 22nd of June in the evening. Lithuanian soldiers were collecting around Lithuanian officers while Russians were retreating. The Lithuanian soldiers were uprised in Pabradė on 24 June. About 5,000 Lithuanian soldiers retreated from the Soviet military units in order to avoid forceful evacuation deep inside the USSR. In Vilnius, skirmishes started with the retreating Red Army. Stasys Žymantas took over the leadership of the Vilnius LAF Staff. Insurgents restored the Lithuanian government in Vilnius in 24 hours, they also took over the Vilnius radio station, raised flag of Lithuania over the Gediminas' Tower and over the Vilnius University. Over 100 Lithuanian insurgents perished in the fights with the Red Army.
After the Germans were rapidly advancing in Lithuania, the NKVD was in a hurry to evacuate 1,700 political prisoners deep inside Russia. The prisoners were placed in wagons in the Vilnius railway station. After the German aviation attack, NKVD guards spilled out and Vilnius LAF insurgents managed to save part of the group of detained people by uncoupling several wagons. On 24 June, at 4am, twenty wagons with more than 600 political prisoners were deported deep inside Russia; Bulvičius among them. On 3 July Bulvičius was transported to the Prison no. 1 in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod). After long torture and interrogation on 26–27 November 1941, Bulvičius was sentenced to death by the Tribunal of the Moscow Military District. Despite the torture of NKVD, Bulvičius did not betray his comrades-in-arms and the NKVD discovered information about Vilnius LAF much later. Bulvičius was executed in the prison and possibly was buried near it in the Bugrovskoye cemetery.
Before the announcing the tribunal decision, Bulvičius in his last words said:
“We, Lithuanian officers, understood that the Soviet regime will not allow us to live, that the talks of politruks about the forthcoming fraternity of peoples (druzhba narodov) - [are] an illusion. We saw the genocide prepared [for] us, so we prepared to fight. You think after our death no patriots will appear in our country? Lithuania will arm itself and will defend itself[;] Lithuania will survive no matter [what]. Concluding my speech I call all my compatriots [to] rise to fight. Long live independent Lithuania.”
A day later in Gorky, other Vilnius LAF staff memmbers were executed - Antanas Skripkauskas, Juozas Kilius, Juozas Radzevičius, Leonas Žemkalnis, Jurgis Gobis, Aleksas Kamantauskas and Stasys Mockaitis.
Bulvičius' brother, Albinas Bulvičius, perished during the air raid of German aviation in 1941. Marija Bulvičienė, wife of Bulvičius, retreated to the U.S. after the war with their two daughters.
- 1928 the Independence Medal.
- 16 February 1938 - Officer's Cross of Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas.
- 19 November 1997 - Grand Cross of Order of the Cross of Vytis (posthumously).
On 20 June 2009 in the building of the Vytautas Magnus University, a bas-relief of the leaders of the June Uprising was opened. In it six professors and students of the University - the most active leaders of the Lithuanian Activist Front are commemorated - Vytautas Bulvičius, Adolfas Damušis, Juozas Vėbra, Leonas Prapuolenis, Pilypas Narutis and Juozas Ambrazevičius. The sculptor of the bas-relief was Stasys Žirgulis.
A training centre of the Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces bears the name of Major Vytautas Bulvičius.
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Media related to Vytautas Bulvičius at Wikimedia Commons