Riflemen of Kelmė region
The formation and existence of the Riflemen’s Union is closely related to Kelmė region. In the course of ongoing battles for the independence, self-defense squads of partisans, that were fighting against the looting gangs, began to gather, as well as the soviet and Bermontian forces. Enemies attacking from all
directions resulted in the appearance of riflemen. On the 27 th of June, 1919, the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union was established in Kaunas. In September of the same year, Vladas Putvinskis-Pūtvis (1873–1929), who’s origin was from Kelmė region, was elected as Union’s leader. His perseverance led to the merge of different squads of riflemen and partisans, who previously had been acting separately, into one organization. In addition to military training, the riflemen were extensively involved in nationwide spread of culture, and were actively engaged in sports.
Not only V. Putvinskis-Pūtvis, but also his whole family became involved in the work of the riflemen. His wife Emilija Putvinskienė-Pūtvienė (Gruzdytė) was the honorary leader of riflewomen. His son Stasys Putvinskis-Pūtvis, a former Minister of Agriculture of Lithuania, was elected as a member of the Center Board of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union. The oldest daughter Onutė Tercijonienė, a well-known pedagogue and public figure, became involved in the sanitary activities of the Riflemen’s Union, was the first commander of the Kaunas squad women's division, also was publishing her articles in the magazines “Motina ir vaikai” (“Mother and children”), “Trimitas” (“Trumpet”), “Šaulė” (“Riflewoman”), “Šeima” (“Family”). Daughter Sofija Mantautienė (Marcinkevičienė) was a leader of Riflemen’s Union’s women in 1938, was giving lecture and collaborating with the press. Daughter Emilija became engaged into riflemen’s activities in 1922, when she was still a gymnasium pupil. In 1929-1930 she was a leader of riflewomen of Kelmė. During the same years she became an organizer and a president of riflewomen of Vytautas Magnus University, and actively collaborated with the press.
Son Vytautas Putvinskis-Pūtvis was a board leader of the Kelmė squad of the Riflemen’s Union during 1927-1934, took care of the construction of the riflemen’s hall in Kelmė, led the riflemen’s Graužikai unit. During his leadership time, impressive public youth parties (gegužinės) with artistic plays, attractions and dances
were held annually on the Graužikai hill.
The exhibition was prepared in the framework of the project „Centennial of Lithuania in the exhibits of Lithuanian museums”, which is supported by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The project is dedicated to commemorate and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Restoration of the Lithuanian state.