Borderland War

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Wars of Ill Bethisad
War logo2.gif
Name(s):Borderland War
Start of hostilities:1942 March 26th
End of hostilities:1942 August 29th
Winning side:Losing side:
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Ethiopian Empire
Republic of Pakštuva
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Buganda (Great Southern Slavic Tsardom)
Resulting treaty/treaties:No treaties as Pakštuva was entirely eliminated. Ethiopia and the kabaka of Buganda signed the treaty of Addis Abeba
Major consequences:Pakštuva ceased to exist and was partitioned by China and Ethiopia with Maasai state established in its part. Slavic rule in Buganda ended and the majority of Buganda territories were transferred to Ethiopia.

Borderland War was a military conflict in which China and Ethiopia attacked independent countries of Pakštuva and Buganda. Pakštuva and Buganda lost the war and were occupied and partitioned by the victors (with a part of each country ramaining nominally inepenent, but with changed government).

The name of the war is drived from the fact that this area was known as the Borderland to the Ethiopians. In Chinese the war is known as the Fierce land war, whereas in Lithuanian (both Reformed and Common) – as the War of Ultimate Defense (Galutinės gynybos karas).

Before the war

Pakštuva became independent in 1940 and this independence was more forced upon it than voluntary. Prior to that Pakštuva was a Lithuanian territory (Naujojo Vilniaus apskritis). After Lithuania was occupied in 1939, Russians atempted to take its overseas territory in Africa as well. However, Lithuanians managed to withstand Russian attack, but had to accept peace treaty under which the country severed ties to Lithuania.

„The Russian bear left this little bit of land for African lions to eat“ – it used to be said by political analsts back then. Because Pakštuva was between two great Empires – China (Chinese East Africa) and Ethiopia. Two empires, that already have conquered territories hundreds times larger in the start of the Second Great War than that of Pakštuva. While Ethiopia and China were allies it was largely their inability to agree upon Pakštuva‘s partition that permited this little state to last for two years.

Chinese and Ethiopian Ultimatum

Secret Treaty of Mogadishu between China and Ethiopia sealed the fate of Pakštuva. Partition of the area was agreed upon and, after the main obstacle was eliminated, only the conquering was left – or so it seemed to the Chinese and Ethiopians.

In March of 1942 Chinese ambassador presented an ultimatum from both countries “to give back the country to the native populations”. After a long deliberation Pakštuva suggested to transform the country into multiethnic and multicultural federative Republic of the Equator. Such suggestion was deemed unacceptable by both Ethiopians and Chinese, and on 26th of March the war began.

Pakštuva goes defensive

“The probability of an Ethiopian attack in the upcoming months is perhaps 40-50%” – a Pakštuvan intelligence officer reported already back in 1940. Joint Ethiopian and Chinese attack was therefore far from surprise for Pakštuvan generals and although Pakštuva did all it could to avoid the war on both fronts and war in general, it had a carefully prepared strategy for such an attack.

The final defensive preparations started immedietly after receiving the ultimatum, but Pakštuvans, still hoping for peace, were trying to avoid anything that could provoke potential enemies. Thus mobilization was declared only in 26th of March, but happened swiftly. Another part of strategy was forged because of experience gained in the African uprisings. Expecting that people of African race will support invading Ethiopians, Pakštuvan soldiers were told to retreat from African population centers along borders and establish along a more defensible frontier. The abandoned territories were however mined – the border mining operatios stated already in 1940 and even to this day these areas remains infested by one of the largest number of mines per square kilometer in the whole world.

„Elsewhere the state boundaries are marked by rivers, lakes and mountain chains. The boundaries of our country shall from now on be marked by the graves of enemies“ – Aitvaras Geležinkelietis told in a public gathering in Naujasis Vilnius at the first days of the war. Indeed, Pakštuva has learned its lessons. Plechavičius knew well enough that he is not going to defeat the enemies, but thought he might be able to inflict casualties great enough to make them abandon costly warfare and choose easier lands to conquer elsewhere. „Nobody here hoped that we will come out from war unscratched, but Pakštuvan survival was certainly seen as a possibility“ – A. Geležinkelietis later wrote in his final book. After all, it was Pakštuvans who made the mighty Russians to agree upon peace treaty only two years ago in the Thunderstorm War.

Not willing Pakštuva to succumb to armed rebellion, already in 26th of March a number of known Panafricanist leaders (who were kept free due to Ethiopian pressure previously) were arrested.

”Every inch requires two dead bodies”

100 thousand Ethiopian and 50 thousand Chinese troops gathered on Pakštuvan borders and in 27th of March crossed the them. Instead of encountering enemy forces Ethiopians found empty lands, yesterday abandoned by Pakštuvan forces, who also swiftly evacuated every Lithuanian and Slav just as it was predetermined in war strategy. Areas were full of looters, who now were destroying property that belonged to those evactuated. Anarchy prevailed here and this was unexpected for Ethiopians.

What was more unexpected was the sheer number of landmines in the area. The mines handicapped soldiers and destroyed artillery units. Going further south the Ethiopians reached well camouflaged bunkers from where Pakštuvan machine-gunners would fire as well snipers would attack. Decoys left by Pakštuvans caused friendly fire. Pro-Pakštuvan Maasais sabotaged enemy activity. It is estimated that in the first ten days of war 100 Ethiopians died or were wounded for a single Pakštuvan casualty. Some other historians estimate this number to be as large as 500. Panic set in among Ethiopian troops. By April 5th already the emperor of Ethiopia decided to send major reinforcements of 300 thousand additional troops, who were recalled from frontlines elsewhere. He couldn‘t risk loosing such a minor war and loosing face in front of the Chinese and his European enemies. „Every inch requires two dead bodies“ were words of an Ethiopian general reportedly told to Emperor. „Every dead body of today will turn into thousands of happy people living there in upcoming generations of liberated Africa“ – this was the supposed answer by the emperor.

On the southern front situation was somewhat different. Chinese chose to invade empty lands rather than major population centers first. Mined they were, but empty plains were less defensible. Moreover, Chinese air force started attempts to destroy the Great Southern Railway. Pakštuvan Air Force was therefore dispatched there. Chinese were technologically superior to Ethiopians and while Pakštuvans managed to inflict great damages the front was moving back far quicker. In the Indian (Lithuanian) Ocean Chinese ships sunk the small Pakštuvan navy and blockaded Naujasis Kaunas port.

While in the north Pakštuvans managed to maintain the frontline stable relatively long, in the south situation was getting worse rapidly. AASFs destroyed 5 Chinese airships, but in mid-April the Railway was far too damaged to continue operating in the east. Using the fact that Chinese concentrated their attack far from the coast however, the Pakštuvans managed to capture Priegliava triangle in early April (the area which was taken by the Chinese two years ago and never returned). While this was only temporary it proved to be a great morale boost for Pakštuvans. Some of those who thought in late March that Pakštuva was doomed, on April 15th were not so sure of that anymore.

”Heart of Africa shall be liberated, whatever the costs” – Ethiopian Emperor

By mid-April deployment of both Ethiopians and the Chinese was increasing. In 1940 and 1941 it was the antagonism between the two partners that saved Pakštuva. In 1942 perhaps this same antagonism did destroy Pakštuva as neither of these powers was willing to loose while the other one could be victorious. China had smaller interest but after learning of Ethiopian defeats and having better successes itself it decided to use the opportunity to show the people of African race that Ethiopia is not invincible (or perhaps that Ethiopia sent in too few soldiers and was sacrificing Pakštuvan natives for military pursuits in the north) and China might be even stronger defender of their interests. A position that could have came helpful in case Allianz won the war and Ethiopia tried to spread Panafricanism into the Chinese part of Africa.

Pakštuvan Air Force lost two airships – one in the north and one in the south, a serious blow to the small air force. The „Sea of Ethiopian soldiers“ (so-called due to their large numbers) finally broke through the defenses and artillery was assembled a few kilometers north of Naujasis Vilnius by late April. The sporadic shelling that started in the 17th of April grew stronger and stronger every day. The government left Naujasis Vilnius in April 20th and many others left as well.

Moreover, Ethiopians declared that they would allow Maasai independence by establishing Maasai as a pro-Ethiopian country, like Mali or the Republic of Egypt, but unlike other areas that were ruled directly by Ethiopia. While many Maasais were still wary of Ethiopians, some started to defect to their cause.

In the south Chinese recaptured Priegliava (April 30rd) and in the central plains marched further north, meeting a stronger opposition near the Great Southern Railroad.

The knot tightens

By the May of 1942 the native unrest grew up. It was decapitated early in war by the execution of its possible leaders, but now it regained strength. Unable to risk the situation that plagued Lithuania in the Slavic Uprisings, Pakštuvan government took a heavy approach against the insurgents and their sympathisers. Ethiopia called this a genocide in their propaganda.

In further reatreats Pakštuvans started using scorched earth tactics, especially when the villages abandoned were not those of Maasais, Lithuanians or the Slavs. The same tactics was used against dens of insurgency.

By May 20th Naujasis Vilnius was effectively a ghost town and perhaps even still calling it a „town“ was an overstatement – so few buildings were left intact under the heavy Ethiopian shelling. On May 25th Ethiopian forces entered Naujasis Vilnius. The capture (or liberation if you use Ethiopian sources) of the capital had a great propagandic importance. However, it went horribly wrong. Pakštuvans set up a trap there. Ethiopians were met again by a familiar cocktail of machine-gun and sniper rifle fire, mines, bombs – but now in an unfamiliar condition of urban warfare. In fact the final remnants of Pakštuvan „urban guerillas“ of Naujasis Vilnius were destroyed or arrested only after the Borderland War officially ended. Several thousands Ethiopian deaths are attributed to them.

Pakštuvan government was in Kalvos at this time. This was the largest city in the central highlands, a region where largest concentration of Lithuanians. And these days Lithuanians made a clear majority there as many refugees came from evacuated (officially or unofficially) regions. The situation reminded that of the Thunderstorm War, when refugees from continental Lithuania were squeezing in Naujasis Vilnius.

On the southern front Chinese were winning a key battle at Antroji. With the fall of Antroji a part of the Great Southern Railway was finally lost, not only damaged, and Pakštuva was effectively cut in half. On the west, meanwhile, Chinese used reinforcements to extend the frontline. Little resistance was met there, although mines and guerillas took their usual tall.

Ethiopians extended the frontline as well, but this was limited by the capture of several townships alongside Pietų Nemunas river.

With the demise of Pakštuvan air force and enemies getting past well defended frontier lands a new type of defense was increasingly popular. It included guerilla warfare, modelled after South African one, and usage of chemical weaponry. Previously chemical weapons were not used because they were banned, but desperate situations required desperate solutions. Still, Pakštuvan government never publically admitted endorsing the use of weapons of mass destruction, and claimed that independent bands of guerilla groups in occupied territories were doing this. In any case, the gas, when used together with meteorological science predicting winds, was effective. It caused thousands of deaths, more importantly, it caused panic. Pakštuvans used to distribute leaflets warning of upcoming gas attacks. In order to conserve the gas these leaflets were frequently false warnings, in that way causing unnecessary panic among enemies.

The final hopes for peace are dashed

In June Pakštuvan leaders were getting understandably pessimistic. They tried to seek contacts to China and suggest peace treaty where Lithuanians would be left a small independent area in central highlands, roughly corresponding in size to their share in Pakštuvan population. Similar independent areas for Slavs and Maasais were also asked for sometimes. China was chosen for cooperation as it was the country that recognized Pakštuva and had no ideological plans for Africa. Additionally, Chinese soldiers were believed to behave better as Ethiopians, perhaps due to angriness for many casualties or because of fanatic Panafricanism, were known to loot, murder and rape those of European race left behind and frequently Maasais as well. Massacre of Plynė (May 10th) became especially infamous (Plynė despite being a border town still had several unevacuated families).

Chinese however did not show a real interest into negotiations, and their troops went through Pakštuvan countryside. Chinese divisions received orders to hold position in the center, but rapidly advanced in the east and the west. In June 10th they reached Ethiopian border in the east that way preventing Ethiopians from capturing any more Pakštuvan territory there. Naujasis Kaunas was besieged from all sides after the capture of Palangėnai . In June 11th Atogrąžos was captured in the west that way capturing Great Souther Railway at yet another place.

Ethiopians, meanwhile, belatedly also tried to occupy more areas and were successful – most of northwestern Pakštuva fell to the Ethiopians in June. The areas were largely empty of Lithuanians or Slavs, who fled to Central Highlands fearing of Ethiopian repressions and believing that even if Lithuanian presence in form of independent or autonomous area could remain in Africa, it certainly would not be in a territorial extent it used to be.

This was the time when order finally fell outside of Central Highlands, with insurgents deposing Pakštuvan officials in some towns. Areas outside the Central Highlands, Ethiopian or Chinese control were effectively in anarchy. Anarchy, that used to be ended only by occupying force, and despite the official intent of liberation, the Ethiopians were not keen to leave large areas in the hands of the locals who deposed the government before them coming. Pakštuvan air force was no more.

The final siege of Kalnadvaris

July the 1st saw the fall of final Pakštuvan area outside the Central Highlands – Naujasis Kaunas was successfully invaded by the Chinese troops.

In the Central Highlands Pakštuvans prepared for the final battle. Government was in Kalnadvaris – a hilltop manor north of Kalvos that was surrounded by AA guns and mines. This manor, which officially belonged to a wealthy Lithuanian banker, was chosen for a purpose of safehouse well before the Borderland War. The hill was criss-crossed by tunnels, ending up in bunkers kilometers away from the main building of manor.

Ethiopians and Chinese started the final siege together. Heavy shelling and aerial bombardment took place. Unconditional surrender was demanded whereas Pakštuvans wanted at least autonomy. Chinese whould have agreed perhaps, but Ethiopians did not. They were angered by the Chinese previous advances that were in breach of the Secret Treaty of Mogadishu. Final sieges reminded of the first days of the war in the north west. Many Ethiopians and Chinese died for every Pakštuvan casualty.

Still, the Central Highlands fell. First minor localities, then Kalvos (Supreme General Povilas Plechavičius was killed in urban warfare there), and eventually Kalnadvaris. The siege of Klanadvaris was especially epic and imortalized by the last work of Aitvaras Geležinkelietis, who died in the siege: „As I am writting these lines, unspeakable thousands of Ethiopians and Chinese are trying to climb this very hill. The mines explode together with their limbs. The crews of bunkers and snipers sow them like reapers. But while a human is million times more powerful than an ant, he couldn‘t hope of stomping every one of them, alone. Same here – the fallen enemies are replaced by additional divisions, while we have no more reserves. Every bunker lost means to us what gassing Addis Abeba would mean to them. And then there are screams. I cannot hear them, but I feel them. The smoke over Kalvos reminds me these screams. The screams of men who are being tortured and their wifes who are enduring rapes and their children who are watching. In my heart, the hope is already dead.“

Bugandan front

At the same time as the war in Pakštuva war also took place in Buganda. Initially the war was slow, but in April kabaka agreed with Ethiopian intervention and so cease-fire was reached. Kabaka then, as requested by Ethiopians and his on his own will perhaps, declared settlement of Slavs in Buganda to be illegal. After the Slavs did not started evacuation Ethiopian armies restarted offensive together with Kabaka‘s forces. Bugandan army was technologically superior to Pakštuvan one due to Russian support in years prior to the war. However, the defensive installations were worse. By June Slavograd fell.


  • Chinese did not evacuate all the additional territories it had occupied in breach of Secret Treaty of Mogadishu. These areas were attached to Chinese East Africa.
  • Ethiopians indeed permitted an independent Maasai state – but only in a part of the area that Pakštuva existed at (blaming the Chinese for not giving the Maasais the remaining area). The Maasai state, while pro-Ethiopian, held relatively cool relations to its northern neighbor and the African Alliance.
  • Kabaka of Buganda lost most of his lands to Ethiopia, but was permitted to retain others. Slavic lands were nationalized in Buganda.
  • Lithuanian and Slavic insurgency, supported by some Maasais, continued in Maasai, Buganda and the areas annexed by Ethiopia and Pakštuva for about six months. Great repressions followed.
This page was created by Abdul-aziz.