Discovery of a Historical Site

Antanas Kraujelis-Siaubūnas

The partisans were the heroes of free Lithuania in the not-so-distant past

A bunker-hideout used by Antanas Kraujelis-Siaubūnas, Lithuania’s last anti-Soviet partisan to die fighting, has been located by the country’s state-funded Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania (LGGRTC). The bunker, built in 1960, was found by archaeologists at a homestead owned by Antanas Pinkevičius who was married to a sister of Kraujelis’ wife, according to the Centre. Pinkevičius had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for aiding the partisans. As Pinkevičius was building the house, Kraujelis dug out the hideout, and a bread oven was constructed above to conceal it. An extra shaft was attached to the oven vent to provide air. Its sides were made of rocks, which kept it from collapsing over the years.

Kraujelis became a partisan in 1948, and cleverly evaded capture, changing locations many times, finally settling in Papiškiai in the Utena district (northeastern Lithuania) with his relatives, where he used the hideout “as needed”. In December 1964, the KGB got wind of his location and searched the place thoroughly, but did not find Kraujelis’ hideaway. He left at Christmas and did not return until February 1965. On March 16 he asked his wife Janina to bring in the skis that were hidden under the snow near the spring, across the road from the house. This was his mistake.

The hideout measured 94x132x69 cm (37x52x27 inches). Photos courtesy of the LGGRTC

There were three houses with windows facing the spring, from which the KGB were observing the Pinkevičius house. They noticed that the skis had been removed and came to the homestead the next morning in force with KGB agents and soldiers. His wife said that they had barely finished breakfast when they saw the homestead being surrounded, with the KGB poking though the outbuildings and looking for a hidden exit from the house. Once they came inside they began tearing up the floor around the stove, as if they knew there was a hide-out there. They finally noticed saw that the flooring behind the stove was different and ordered Pinkevičius to open it up. Kraujelis shot at them from inside it, injuring two Soviet officers and his brother-in-law, then threw out a hand-grenade. They all fled the house to avoid the explosion, but the grenade failed. Meanwhile Kraujelis leapt out of the hole, threw his papers into the fire and managed to scramble up to the attic, where they finally found him, and went in shooting. He fought back, injuring several Soviet officers, then, in the partisan tradition,  turned his gun on himself before he could be taken alive.

The remains of Antanas Kraujelis were found on June 13, 2019 at the Vilnius Orphans’ Cemetery after several decades of searching initiated by Kraujelis’ relatives, historians and archeologists.  

His remains were buried during an official ceremony in the Military Section of the Antakalnis cemetery in Vilnius on October 26, 2019.

Adapted from