• Telšiai Military Volunteers - Defenders of Lithuania’s Independence

      Telšiai Military Volunteers - Defenders of Lithuania’s Independence

      Documents and photographs from the period of re-establishement of independent State of Lithuania (1990-1994) are presented in this virtual exhibition. These historical valuables were donated to the Samogitian Museum "Alka" by the national defence volunteers of Telšiai Infantry Company. Images from January Events of 1991, moments from the swearing-in of national defence volunteers, and memorial sites for those who died in action can be seen in these photographs. Details about the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service and requirements for the national defence volunteers of Telšiai Infantry Company are among the documents of this exhibition.

      After declaring the Act of March 11, 1990, Sąjūdis (the Reform Movement of Lithuania) invited volunteers who were willing to defend independence of Lithuania to be registered. Already in the summer of the same year the first national defence volunteers of Telšiai Infantry Company were sworn-in. These volunteers were of very diverse background. Former political prisoners, participants of armed resistance during the after-war, and members of the Riflemen’s Union joined arms with younger generation born under the Soviet regime in order to contribute to the reinforcement of the independence of Lithuania. During that year more than 30 men joined Telšiai national defence volunteers unit.

      Zenonas Kojelis was an alumnus of Telšiai Teachers' Seminary. He was called-up to the Soviet Army, graduated from military school, and taught military training at Telšiai schools. In April of 1990 he was appointed as an instructor at Telšiai region Department of National Defence. Later he became the superintendent of Telšiai town and brought together the first volunteers. Already in September these volunteers went to Šiauliai for the Border Guard Service. Some of them later became gunsmiths and mine-clearance personnel.

      In early 1991 Telšiai national defense volunteers were among those who defended the Supreme Council of Lithuania and other public buildings. They also contributed to the development of the structures of national defense, guarded the state border, helped to organize mass events, and took care of proper arrangement and commemoration of memorial places for those who were killed or died in action while protecting Lithuania’s independence.

      The Samogitian Museum "Alka" participate in the project "Digitization of Lithuania’s State Building Documentary Heritage and Publication of it at the National and International Portals" coordinated by the Lithuanian Museums' Centre for Information, Digitisation, and LIMIS (the branch of the Lithuanian Art Museum). The Museum invited everyone to share their valuable objects which are connected with the re-establishment of the State of Lithuania with society and make them publicly available. Vytautas Kybartas, Juozas Kučinskas, Vaclovas Ringys, and Pranas Jocys, volunteers of Telšiai Infantry Company, accepted Museum’s invitation. Some of photographs and documents which they donated to the Museum are displayed in this stand.

      Written by:
      Irma Kontautienė
      Loreta Norvaišienė

Objects of the exhibition

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