Vytautas Petronis (Herder Institute, Germany)
This presentation discusses the origins and development of the interwar Lithuanian right-wing radical movement, focusing on its earliest stage, that is, before the coup d’état of December 17, 1926.
The first sporadic outbreaks of Lithuanian ultra-nationalism occurred in the second half of 1922. These were carried out primarily by young veterans of the wars of independence and students of the recently opened University of Lithuania in Kaunas. Both groups arguably represented what can be called the “tautininkai (nationalist) stream”— a movement which included a broad spectrum of right-wing activists from patriots to radical nationalists. To a great extent this stream can be compared to the German Völkisch movement; it was liberal, democratic and at the same time conservative, patriotic, as well as nationalistic.
During the period 1923-1927, two separate groups emerged in parallel with the “tautininkai (nationalist) stream,” operating in accordance with the right-wing political parties: 1) the pro-fascist movement, coordinated by the Christian Democrats; and 2) the “Secret Officers Union” (Slapta karininkų sąjunga), which to a great extent allied with the “Lithuanian Nationalist Union” (Tautininkai Union). These two clandestine groups operated as the enforcers of the respective political parties and aimed either at strengthening political positions of their superiors or bringing them to power.