On March 15, The General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania commemorated the 108th birth anniversary of partisan General Jonas Žemaitis-Vytautas. This year, the teachers and schoolchildren of Vilnius Antakalnis Progymnasium joined the commemoration as they familiarized themselves with the partisan’s activities during History and Fundamentals of Civic Education lessons.
The memory of General Jonas Žemaitis was honoured in a one-minute silence. The cadets and schoolchildren laid flowers at his monument in the square facing the Ministry of National Defence and bas-relief at the Military Academy of Lithuania. The bas-relief was erected in 2009 to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the general.
‘Today we commemorate the memory of General Jonas Žemaitis, his works and achievements. We remember his input during the fights for freedom and unifying the Lithuanian partisans. The Military Academy of Lithuania is presented as a school of security and defenders of our Homeland; therefore, we must always remember and continue our traditions. The fights for freedom must set an example to us all’ said Colonel Raimundas Matulis, Commandant of the Military Academy of Lithuania.
General Jonas Žemaitis
Through the efforts of Jonas Žemaitis, graduate of the former Military School, the Lithuanian partisan movement was finally united in 1949. In the same year, he was elected as Chairman of the Presidium of the Council of the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters (according to the Declaration of the Council of the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters of 16 February 1949, upon the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Lithuania, the Chairman of the Presidium was the President of the Republic of Lithuania).
In 1949, Jonas Žemaitis was awarded the rank of partisan general. He led the partisan movement till 30 May 1953 when he was betrayed and arrested by tossing a sleep gas grenade into a bunker where he was hiding. On June 1954, Jonas Žemaitis was sentenced to death in a closed trial and executed on 26 November in Butyrka prison, Moscow.
By the Decree of 14 February 1997 of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Jonas Žemaitis was awarded the 1st Class Order of the Cross of Vytis after his death. On 26 January 1998, the President of the Republic of Lithuania signed a decree awarding Jonas Žemaitis the rank of general (retired). On 20 November 1998, the Minister of National Defence named the Military Academy of Lithuania after General Jonas Žemaitis.
Photographs by K. Dijokas