History of Pakštuva

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Preparations for the war

  • 1939 September - After the German invasion of Veneda vadovas of Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis Povilas Plechavičius was instructed to prepare plans for the defense of the African lands of Lithuania. The partial mobilization of September 3rd increased the size of army at his disposal. The strike of Lithuanian Slavs that began in September 9th had less influence in African lands than in eastern mainland Lithuania but it paralyzed the work of Naujasis Kaunas port and some other institutions. With the start of Second Slavic uprising in the mainland the security was tightened in Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis where Slavs made 14% of population. The uprising did not become as serious there as in mainland Lithuania but the second half of September was marked by violent clashes and riots mostly by Salvic youth which left about 40 dead and over 700 injured. Local Lithuanians organized rallies against the war and these rallies were frequently targetted by Snorist activists; therefore all demonstrations were banned soon. Several smaller towns were captured spontaniously by Slavic gangs and held for several days. There was no apskritis-wide organization of Slavic insurgency however and army eventually liberated the areas. The Slavs were supported by the snorist state of Buganda. Local blacks were urged by Ethiopian-controlled radio stations not to take part in the uprising "as in that case one oppressive regime would have been changed by another [such regime] which would be harder to remove". Throughout the month there was a large influx of refugees from mainland Lithuania who were given a temporary place to live in schools and municipal buildings; due to this the studies in schools were disrupted. It is estimated that around 10,000 refugees, mostly ethnic Lithuanians, came in September.
  • 1939 October - While more and more mainland Lithuania was being occupied by Russia and its allies situation in Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis was calming down. During October 15 people were killed in the clashes and 500 injured. Local Slavs were urged by Russia not to fight for now and to wait for Russian invasion. Agreement with Slavic workers who striked was signed by Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis. Povilas Plechavičius continually urged people to "restrict the war to Europe and to continue peaceful life". Some local Lithuanians attempted to go back to mainland Lithuania to help the war effort there but this was generally not permitted; "This is also Lithuania and the defense of this land is just as important" - it was claimed by the officials. When the fall of mainland Lithuania was inevitable the government urged Povilas Plechavičius to defend the land at all costs (he was permitted to act as he would see necessary) and to prepare possibilities for the leaders of Lithuania to come in Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis. This was not needed however as the government evacuated to New Lithuania in Antarctica which was perceived to be a safer place. In late October the officials of Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis met with Maasai leaders for negotiations as they understood that the support of Maasais would be crucial. The intelligence of Federated Kingdoms reported that Russia was planning an invasion of Lithuania's African colony in November. In 21th of October the Lithuanian consulate in Chinese East Africa was closed by the Chinese authorities despite of the fact that Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis and New Lithuania was still under Lithuanian control. Hyperinflation happened as the value of Lithuanian Litas fell quickly. Denominations of 100,000 and 500,000 were issued; although there was a money printing plant in the area due to shortage of approptiate paper the safety standards of newly printed Litai were lower and the economy was later hit by a large-scale counterfeiting. Some 15,000 war refugees came to Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis during October mostly through the "evacuation routes" with airships; the local authority of Apskritis nationalised various buildings to provide living space for the refugees. Understanding that this is only a temporary solution it ordered the construction of new low-quality wooden buildings around major cities and towns.

Russian invasion and bombings

  • 1939 November - Preparations for the Russian invasion were continued in early November. A deal with Maasais was reached over extended autonomy and representation of Maasais in the council of apskritis and establishment of a Maasai regiment; Povilas Plechavičius apologized the Maasais for his past actions. November 4th saw the first bombing of Naujasis Kaunas by Russia. These bombings intensified and the area targetted increased, great damage was caused; Lithuanian Air Force did manage to shot down several Russian airships however and prevented Russians from raiding areas farther west. Plechavičius's forces managed to shoot down a few airships. The seriousness of Russian invasion in mid-November was pre-empted by the Disaster of Indian Ocean - saboage attacks against the Russian navy which, although blamed on Lithuanians, were most likely caused by Chinese. Some Russian forces (about 5000 soldiers) still managed to reach the coast between Priegliava and Naujasis Kaunas and with the support of air force capture some areas. Initial Russian plan for a quick takeover of some major town or city that would serve as a base of operations later did not succeed however. The attempt to takeover Priegliava was preempted by the Chinese small-scale invasion of southeastern Pakštuva that was supposedly done in order to protect local Chinese (there were four Chinese families living in Priegliava). Russians did not attack the Chineseoccupied Priegliava. At the same time Buganda staged a similar invasion in the west of the apskritis while Russian propaganda started to call for a Slavic uprising. Such uprising did indeed happen although with many Snorist activists still in jails since the riots of September and October it was not as serious as could have been expected. The local blacks who would fight for Lithuania were promised the property of the Slavs who would take part in the uprising. The Bugandan troops in the west were not fighting an open war but coordinated guerilla warfare instead. Coastal border guards were attacked in order to make it possible to ship weaponry through Lake Smetona from Buganda. During the November riots 459 people were killed (primarilly due to increased harshness of the army in treating the riots that included usage of air force), over 1000 died in the bombings (primarilly civilians) and about 2500 were killed in battlefields (of them about 1300 were Lithuanian soldiers (including Maasai regiment), 1000 Russian soldiers and 200 Bugandan troops). Lithuanian forces lost several tanks and airships SPO Kazys Pakštas (which was shot down near Naujasis Kaunas), SSO Aukštutinė Pilis and DPO Karalius Vytenis.
Center of Naujasis Vilnius after the Russian bombings (December of 1939).
  • 1939 December - By the 1st of December Russian troops controlled about 9% of apskritis (in the southeast) and besieged Naujasis Kaunas but with promised reinforcements not arriving the morale of the soldiers started to fall. In the 3rd of December Russian Air Force organised a major air raid over Naujasis Vilnius and caused great damage but lost 4 airships. The frontline started to move backwards for the Russians, several brigades surrendered in 10th of December. The Maasais started to seize farms of Slavs who were supporting Russia and Buganda. By the 21st of December whole eastern part of apskritis was liberated. The army presence in the west was heavily increased and the possibilities to smuggle weaponry from Buganda were largely severed but the insurgency continued there. Lithuanian leadership send a note to China demanding its withdrawal from southeastern part of the apskritis but the Chinese claimed that the Lithuanian government would be unable to ensure the security of local Chinese. Thus the Chinese returned only some largely uninhabitted areas and continued the occupation of Priegliava and so-called Priegliava triangle. During December 800 people died in the bombings, 2000 in the battlefields. Many Russians were taken as POWs. Lithuanian airship TVO Santara was shot down by Bugandan troops.
  • 1940 January - Russian bombings continued albeit in decreased quantities and restricted to the east of the apskritis. Most of the buildings in Naujasis Kaunas were levelled by this time and Naujasis Vilnius sustained heavy damage. However, Russians were unable to destroy the versatile fleet of Lithuanian anti-airship fighters. Russians refused to have any talks about peace with the government of Lithuania however (which, according to Russia, had no real power anymore and was known to discriminate Slavs) and preffered direct talks with Povilas Plechavičius. A delegation was secretly sent to Moscow in order to seek for a peace treaty. Pakštuva started to count the war dead and damages. 240 people died in Russian bombings and another 100 died due to the insurgency in the west during January.

Independence and the establishing the state

  • 1940 February - A peace treaty was signed with Russia. As it was requested in the treaty Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis declared independence (as Pakštuva) and neutrality in 12th of February, adopted new national symbols. Povilas Plechavičius adopted a title of Supreme General. In addition to other regulations the peace treaty established diplomatic relations between Pakštuva and Russia (including exchange of diplomatic missions), made Pakštuva withdraw any requests for reparations or compensation for war damages and release Russian prisoners of war. The war certainly brought more damages for Pakštuva than Russia, but in the treaty Pakštuvans managed to secure territorial integrity and the position of Lithuanian nation there. While the existance of permanent Russian diplomatic mission in Naujasis Vilnius and the treaty regulations of the position of the Pakštuvan Slavs could have caused some problems in the future this was far from the main issue in the newly independent country. As Antanas Smetona later wrote in his memoirs he supported the move towards independence as it was necessary to secure the Lituanity in Pakštuva. Maasais protested over inactivity of the authorities in granting them promised lands and threatened to drop their support. February 25th saw a bombing of Slavograd port in Buganda carried out by the Pakštuvan Air Force. This event severed possibilities for Buganda to support the insurgents on the Pakštuva side. Construction of temporary homes for people who were made homelss by the war started as well as a large scale debris clearing. New "Property for work" program (aimed primarily at the thousands of war refugees) promised to grant land and housing in return for several months of community service (primarilly rebuilding houses, infrastructure and clearing debris). Requests for humanitarian aid went largely unnoticed in the world that itself was involved in war. The mobilization was partly called off.
  • 1940 March - Modus Vivendi of Pakštuva and Buganda was signed in 5th of March; Buganda agreed to remove its troops from Pakštuva in 14 days (the troops were removed by 17th of March) and both sides agreed not to attack each other. The treaty was ratified by Pakštuva the next day and by Buganda in March 8th. Some farms were expropriated by Pakštuva and given to Maasais as promised; in addition to Slavic-owned farms this included several Lithuanian-owned farms that were considered to be built in violation of previous agreements by Maasais. This sparked some protests but the Lithuanians in question were compensated with land elsewhere. New instititutions of government were being established, primarilly various local and national councils with advisory power; council of apskritis was promoted to parliament. Russia and its allies remained the only powers formally recognising the independence of Pakštuva. Port of Naujasis Kaunas became partially operational for smaller ships by the end of March. Ethiopia and China turned down offers to establish diplomatic relations with Pakštuva. Pakštuvan attempts to get the Priegliava triangle back from the Chinese failed. China claimed that this area never belonged to Pakštuva, only to Lithuania, and Pakštuva was still unable to secure local Chinese. It is assumed that Chinese sent additional Chinese settlers to the area. Embassy of Lithuania was closed by Ethiopia.
  • 1940 April - The drive to establish diplomatic relations was largely unsuccesful for Pakštuva, only several minor states recognised its independence in April. A more serious issue was the loss of markets for Pakštuvan goods in Europe; agreements were reached to export agricultural products to South America. Povilas Plechavičius issued a decree to enlarge parliament by several seats and prominent Maasai leaders were appointed to these seats. While all these actions helped to find a truce with Maasais other black communities felt left out. This was motivated that original agreement to rule the area was signed only between Maasai and Lithuanian leaders. In the middle of April the situation started to get tense in the areas inhabitted by the Mijikendas and Swahilis in the east of the country. The Mijikenda inhabitted area was the one that was damaged the most during the Thunderstorm War, a large part of buildings and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. In the late April the new currency Pakštuvan Litas was introduced. This currency was perpetually having high inflation rates however and people were more keen on using foreign currency. As Courland, Livonia and Estonia were occupied by Russia in early 1940 Povilas Plechavičius invited their people to take refuge in Pakštuva. This was a controversial move as Pakštuva still was not healthy itself but Plechavičius saw the people of other Baltic nations as much needed allies in a country where Lithuanians made only 5% of population. However, only about 1500 Courlandians, Livonians and Estonians used this invitation.
  • 1940 May - The first large cargo ship full of export goods left Naujasis Kaunas. While the port was far from rebuilt this Pakštuvan window to the outer world became more or less operational. The campaign to provide permanent housing for those who lost their homes in the war and buildings for refugees was well underway with only about 45% of these people still living in shelters and nationalised buildings. Former farmers were given new homes at first. These new homes were small wooden houses with arable lands nearby so that the people could farm. On 15th of May Ethiopia donated 5 narrow gauge locomotives and 50 carriages in return for the promise that a priority will be given to rebuild railways to certain cities inhabitted primarilly by natives. Pakštuva accepted the donation and this way Ethiopia started promote itself as a defender of the Pakštuvans of African race. The rail vehicles in question were written off by Ethiopians due to ongoing standartization of railway gauge in that country. Policing in the eastern part of Pakštuva was strenghtened.

Internal troubles

  • 1940 June - Situation in the eastern part of Pakštuva detarioriated rapidly. Sabotage activities and terrorist attacks against local Lithuanians and Slavs implicated deployment of the army. The anti-government activities were supported by Ethiopian-controlled radio stations that broadcasted in Swahili and Somali languages which blamed Pakštuvan government for catering only for its population of European race. Povilas Plecahvičius visited Naujasis Kaunas and attempted to deny these allegiations by claiming that the situation is hard in the western part of Pakštuva as well and it takes time to restore everything after the war. However, the insurgency only intensified and by the end of the month the army presence had to be strenghtened further. Approximately 280 people died in the conflict during June, 200 of them being alleged Mijikenda and Swahili insurgents and the rest mostly civilians of European race and soldiers. 40 Slavic civilians were killed by the insurgents and Buganda accused Pakštuva of guarding only Lithuanians and not Slavs from African attacks and of purposefully lenghtening the conflict. Several Slavs were arrested in Naujasis Vilnius for throwing stones at the government buildings during a demonstration on June 19th.
  • 1940 July - Size of the army was expanded due to the insurgency in the eastern part of the country. As there was a lack of uniforms it was decided to use armbands instead of them. On the 9th of July a ship smuggling weapons from Buganda was captured in Lake Smetona. This event proved what was already known - Buganda reinitiated its active support for anti-government activists in Pakštuva. Bugandans claimed that they only provide local Slavs means of self-defense that are needed in atmosphere of lawlessness. The first Slavic militia units were formed in late July. The goal of these units was to defend the property from attacks (presumably both insurgents and the government). The government attempted to form alternative National Rifle Units, a paramilitary force. Lithuanian farmers were quite eager to join this organization. Ethiopia offered a package of humanitarian aid which Pakštuva accepted. The agreement implicated entry of many Ethiopians to distribute the aid as Ethiopia claimed that it wasn't sure that Pakštuvan government would give the aid to those who need it. The Ethiopian aid workers disseminated anti-Pakštuvan propaganda among local people of African race and presumably even provided them weapons. This led the Pakštuvan government to deny a similar proposal for assitance from China in late July. 350 people died due to the revolt in July.
Pakštuvan army prepares to enter port warehouses in Naujasis Kaunas that were occupied by Mijikenda militants, August 21st of 1940.
  • 1940 August - Pakštuvan military exchanged fire with Ethiopian aid workers who joined the side of rebels; this resulted in death of five aid workers. Several additional aid workers were arrested for conducting espionage. After a long discussion of government Povilas Plechavičius demanded an immidiate withdrawal of Ethiopian aid workers. Ethiopia responded by closing its border with Pakštuva and continuing a major propaganda campaign against Pakštuva that even recommended people to depose the government "that does not permit foreign nations to help its people". Insurgent activity spread from the eastern part of the country to the other parts of Pakštuva as well. On the 16th of August dock workers of African race declared a mass strike in Naujasis Kaunas, to be followed by other groups of workers. The striking workers joined mass demonstrations against the government that included shooting to the air and looting government institutions. Karvedys of the 16th military province was killed by the mob. The strikes paralyzed exports of Pakštuva and on the 20th of August after all negotiations failed the usage of force was authorized. What resulted is known as the Battle of Naujasis Kaunas that lasted two days and left a approximately 1400 insurgents and 120 soldiers dead. The toll was the largest since the Thunderstorm War. Povilas Plechavičius declared three days of national mourning after this event with flags half-masted. Ethiopia blamed Pakštuva for "declaring war against its own people of African race" and started to move its army to the Pakštuvan border.
  • 1940 September - Ethiopia moved two divisions of its army to the Pakštuvan border and China did the same. As documents that were discovered after the fall of Ethiopia in 1947 proved Ethiopia was planning to invade Pakštuva in September. This operation would have demonstrated Ethiopian power and showed the European countries that it is wiser to accept the subsequent ultimatums and hand over the port cities peacefully. However China made it clear to the Ethiopian diplomats that it would not accept unilaterial Ethiopian occupation of Pakštuva and Buganda. Chinese deployment levels on Pakštuvan borders always matched those of Ethiopia and to strenghten its message China established diplomatic ties with Pakštuva on the 25th of September (a move which provoked Ethiopian protests). Although a few Pakštuvan politicians wanted to refuse the Chinese proposal for diplomatic ties due to the Chinese occupation or Priegliava triangle most understood that Chinese support at this time is too imporant for that. The first anniverasry of the start of the Thunderstorm War came but in fear of violence commemorative events were largely not permitted although many people expressed their grief silently by wearing black clothes on the day Lithuania was invaded. Since the Battle of Naujasis Kaunas the levels of insurgency dropped somewhat. Representation of people of African race was increased at all levels in Pakštuva but the appointed politicians were primarilly Maasais. Many Maasai leaders were suspicious of Panafricanism and understood that implementation of it may uproot their dominant position in the region and therefore more or less supported the Pakštuvan administration. Despite of the Ethiopian pressure Povilas Plechavičius made it clear that further strikes or other anti-government activity will be dealt with using a strong-hand approach. Pakštuva adopted a new strategy for countering insurgents which included a wider usage of air force, led by Antanas Audronis. Air force strikes against insurgent villages became almost a daily event. Plechavičius said however that all the people of African race who will work together will be entitled to a fair share of the national wealth. In an attempt to tone down the bad relations with Ethiopia Pakštuva gave amnesty to the fomerly arrested Ethiopian aid workers. Attempting to make the situation less tense Plechavičius gave parole to some insurgents arrested during the Battle of Naujasis Kaunas. These people had to leave the country however.

After Ethiopia entered the Second Great War

  • 1940 October - Ethiopian occupation of Socotra (a Batavian territory) basically meant that Ethiopia entered the Second Great War on the Allianz side. Chinese envoy to Naujasis Vilnius who arrived on 10th of October ensured that the existance of Pakštuva fits Chinese interests and China will not permit Ethiopian invasion. Pakštuvan administration started negotiations for officialising Chinese support and attempted to get public recognition of its neutrality from Chinese authorities. However the Chinese side was not ready to risk further damaging Sino-Ethiopian relations and basically stalled negotiations. Any Pakštuvan attempts to raise the question of the return of Priegliava triangle were denounced by the Chinese. It is assumed by the historians that one of the reasons for the Chinese to keep the triangle was to have the possibility to establish a loyal Maasai state there that would claim the rest of the area in case Pakštuva would be unilaterially occupied by the Ethiopians. Pakštuva however was ready to more or less give up Priegliava in return for Chinese support at this time.
  • 1940 November - Sino-Pakštuvan negotiations ended without reaching any positive results after China refused to withdraw demands for a permision to station Chinese soldiers on Pakštuvan soil in return for a pledge to guard Pakštuvan independence. Ethiopia captured French, Sicilian, Italian and FK ports in mid-November and therefore formally entered the Second Great War. This triggered secret talks between Bugandan Slavs and Pakštuvans for the first time in history. The talks were indirect and were held via Pakštuvan Slav Mikhail Luchenko. Bugandans offered Pakštuvans to agree upon joint strategy in case of an Ethiopian attack and claimed that their sources indicate that Ethiopians are planning to undertake such attack in December. Russian envoy to Naujasis Vilnius also called for a closer cooperation between Buganda and Pakštuva and demanded a greater empowerement of Pakštuvan Slavs (he claimed that without help of local Slavs Pakštuva has no possibility of rebuffing a foe). Pakštuvan government was still wary of Snorist countries (believing that their only goal is to create a unified Snorist state on both coasts of Lake Smetona) and understood that if public would find out about the talks with Buganda it would undermine support for Pakštuvan government among ethnic Lithuanians. Furthermore Pakštuva had access to former Lithuanian intelligence agents in Ethiopia and they did not believe that Ethiopian invasion would happen in a month. Ethiopian press concentrated on the European port cities built on "stolen Ethiopian land" at the time rather than on anti-Pakštuvan propaganda.
  • 1940 December - The idealistic hope for gaining Chinese support that prevailed in Naujasis Vilnius for several months (since the establishment of Sino-Pakštuvan diploamtic ties) had almost dried up. "The key to Pakštuvan survival lies not in Beijing but rather in the ties that connect Beijing to Addis Abeba or, more correctly, lack of such ties where it concerns Eastern Africa" - these words written by Bronius Kazys Balutis in his pro memoria summed up the Pakštuvan situation well enough. Ethiopian annexation of Castillian, Aragonese and Portuguese ports created the belief among Pakštuvans that "Pakštuva will be the next". Airship TVO Tiesa was shot down on 10th of December during the raid on an insurgent base leading to the death of its crew. This became the first casualty of independent Pakštuvan Air Force and damaged the common belief that the air force is undefeatable that reigned since the raid of Slavograd and successful anti-insurgent operations. Ethiopian capture of several Engilsh, French and Cambrian vessels in the Red Sea triggered the start of the secret FK-Pakštuvan negotiations for the possible use of Naujasis Kaunas as a replacement for lost ports on the Ethiopian coast. Any negotiations with the Allies were dangerous for Pakštuva but the country desperately needed foreign economic aid and potential political support. Still it is assumed that several Pakštuvan officials resigned because of the Balutis's desire to conduct these negotiations.
  • 1941 January - Federated Kingdoms recognised Pakštuva and a deal on usage of Naujasis Kaunas port by FK civilian vessels was signed. FK promised to grant economic support in return. This deal is likely to have had secret clauses on Pakštuvan limited permition of secret allied military transit. Such clauses may have even been unwritten due to their danger to Pakštuvan independence. Chinese envoy to Naujasis Vilnius immedietly issued a protest to Povilas Plechavičius and given a similar protest from Ethiopian government but previous expectations by Pakštuvan diplomats that China would limit its protests to diplomatic means were not breached. Povilas Plechavičius ensured the Chinese envoy that "Pakštuva will by no means join the allied side and would immedietly terminate all the agreements with the allied countries in case it would become clear that these countries transport weaponry through the port Naujasis Kaunas". However, as Bronius Kazys Balutis noted in his pro memoria, "This was the time when we risked the most, putting everything at stake. But we understood that without increased foreign support Pakštuva would not survive another year". The agreement was signed three days after Ethiopia invaded Azande Chiefdoms (a French colony) when it was believed that Ethiopia would be busy overtaking French colonies and not seek to occupy Pakštuva.
This page was created by Abdul-aziz.
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