Monument to soldiers of the Lithuanian Territorial Defence Force
The monument to soldiers of the Lithuanian Territorial Defence Force (architect Algis Mikėnas, sculptor Juozas Šlivinskas) was erected on 18 June 2004 in Paneriai on the initiative of this defence force union and the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania.
It contains the following inscription: “ON THIS SPOT, ON 17–21 MAY 1944, THE SS TROOPS OF THE GERMAN ARMY EXECUTED 86 SOLDIERS OF THE LITHUANIAN TERRITORIAL DEFENCE FORCE”.
On 1 February 1944, with the permission of the Nazi Germany SS and police headquarters, General Povilas Plechavičius started forming a military unit to fight Soviet and Polish partisans in Eastern Lithuania. The territorial unit was to consist of 20 battalions of 800 troops each. A total of 13 battalions of 750 troops each were formed. Lithuanians were secretly hoping that the unit would become the core of the future Lithuanian army.
In April–May, seven battalions of the Territorial Defence Force were redeployed to Eastern Lithuania which was controlled by many well-organised units of the Home Army supported by the local population. In a short space of time, the poorly trained, under-armed, under-equipped and scattered battalions of the Defence Force suffered severe defeats.
On 9 May 1944, General Povilas Plechavičius was ordered to transfer the battalions under his command to the Ostland SS and area commissioners, to rename them ‘Police Auxiliary Battalions’ and to make them wear SS police uniforms. When Povilas Plechavičius disobeyed the order, he was summoned to SS headquarters together with the Chief of the Defence Force headquarters, Urbonas on 15 May 1944, and arrested, and the headquarters in Kaunas were occupied. A total of 52 officers of the Territorial Defence Force (including chief commanders) were incarcerated at the Nazi concentration camp in Salaspils; 106 troops were transported to the Nazi concentration camp in Stutthof; 983 troops were brought to the Nazi concentration camp in Oldenburg; 3,500 troops were taken to the anti-aircraft defence service in Germany; and 86 soldiers were shot to death in Paneriai and Marijampolė.