Augustinas Povilaitis (February 24, 1900 in Pašventys, Jurbarkas district – July 12, 1941 in Moscow) was a captain of the Lithuanian Army and Director of the State Security Department of Lithuania. Together with Minister of the Interior Kazys Skučas, Povilaitis was a target of anti-Lithuanian Soviet propaganda in the days leading to the 1940 Soviet ultimatum and occupation of Lithuania. Right after the Red Army invaded Lithuania on June 15, 1940, Povilaitis was arrested, transported to Moscow, and executed in 1941. In 2006 he was awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis.
Early life and career[edit | edit source]
In 1919, Povilaitis volunteered for the Lithuanian Army and participated in the Lithuanian Wars of Independence with the Bermontians. In the army he rose to the rank of a captain. From 1920 to 1931 he worked as on officer in the security and criminal police. As a volunteer in the army, Povilaitis received 15 hectares (37 acres) of land in Giedriai village and established a farm. In 1931 he was appointed chief of the security police. As an extramural student, he obtained a high school diploma and enrolled to the Vytautas Magnus University in 1933. He graduated in 1939 with a degree in economics. In 1934, Povilaitis was promoted to the Director of the State Security Department. In this capacity he enforced the ban of the Communist Party of Lithuania, which made him unpopular with the Soviet Union. Povilaitis contributed articles to several newspaper and journals, including Lietuvos aidas, Vairas, Ūkininko patarėjas.
Soviet persecution[edit | edit source]
In spring 1940, the Soviet Union heightened its anti-Lithuanian rhetoric and increased diplomatic pressure. The Lithuanian government was accused of kidnapping, torturing, and interrogating two Russian soldiers, stationed in Lithuania according to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty of 1939. Minister of the Interior Kazys Skučas and Povilaitis were singled out as the main perpetrators of the provocations. Despite Lithuanian repeated pledges to fully investigate the incident, the Soviets kept pressing the charges. Just before receiving the Soviet ultimatum, Lithuanian government decided to dismiss Povilaitis. However, it was not enough and the Lithuanians were presented with the ultimatum, listing three demands. The first demand was to put Skučas and Povilaitis on trial.
After Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union on June 15, 1940, Skučas and Povilaitis were arrested near Povilaitis' birthplace close to the Lithuanian border with Nazi Germany. For a time they were held in Kaunas, but then transported to a prison Moscow. After a trial Povilaitis was sentenced to death and executed in July 1941. For a long time very little was known about his trial or execution. His family escaped abroad and thought that Povilaitis was alive and imprisoned in some Soviet Gulag. In 1960 the soviet released bits of Povilaitis' interrogation protocols to prove that he conspired with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. According to the protocols, in February 1940 Povilaitis traveled to Berlin and discussed options of German protection, especially in case of aggression from the Soviets, with Werner Best. Reportedly Germans replied that they could establish a protectorate by September 1940. Some Soviet historians used these evidences to justify the Soviet occupation as protection of Lithuania from the Nazis.
References[edit | edit source]
- (Lithuanian) "Povilaitis Augustinas". Žymūs Kauno žmonės: atminimo įamžinimas. Kauno apskrities viešoji biblioteka. 2004. http://atminimas.kvb.lt/asmenvardis.php?asm=POVILAITIS%20AUGUSTINAS. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- (Lithuanian) Škiudaitė, Audronė V. (2004-01-30). "Į Ameriką - ieškoti Lietuvos". http://www.xxiamzius.lt/archyvas/priedai/atodangos/20040130/4-1.html.
- Simas Sužiedėlis, ed (1970–1978). "Povilaitis, Augustinas". Encyclopedia Lituanica. IV. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. p. 331. Library of Congress Classification 74-114275.
- Misiunas, Romuald; Rein Taagepera (1993). The Baltic States: Years of Dependence 1940–1990 (revised ed.). University of California Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-520-08228-1.
- Senn, Alfred Erich (2007). Lithuania 1940: Revolution from Above. On the Boundary of Two Worlds. Identity, Freedom, and Moral Imagination of the Baltics. Rodopi. p. 91. ISBN 978-90-420-2225-6.
- Shtromas, Alexander; Robert K. Faulkner, Daniel J. Mahoney (2003). Totalitarianism and the Prospects for World Order. Lexington Books. p. 252. ISBN 0-7391-0534-5. http://books.google.com/?id=fTt6lJOEEFcC&pg=PA252.
- (Lithuanian) Zubreckas, Alfonsas (2004-03-24). "Tragiškas likimas: Generolo Kazimiero Skučo gimimo 110-osioms metinėms". http://www.xxiamzius.lt/numeriai/2004/03/24/atmi_01.html.
- (Lithuanian) Butautas, Kazimieras (1988). "A. Povilaičio kelionė į Berlyną 1940 metais". pp. 248–257. http://www.aidai.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8237&Itemid=520.
- Senn, Alfred Erich (2007). Lithuania 1940: Revolution from Above. On the Boundary of Two Worlds. Identity, Freedom, and Moral Imagination of the Baltics. Rodopi. p. 74. ISBN 978-90-420-2225-6.
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