Lithuanian Defense and Intelligence Reaction to Communist Coup in Tallinn

Kęstutis Kilinskas

Lithuanian society openly and widely spoke about the communist attempt to seize power in Tallinn in 1924. The most influential newspapers and politicians made comments about the reasons, process, victims and failure of the couop. In public space, ther was clearly understood that inspiration, plan and weapons for coup came from Russia. All the information in newspaper about the event in Tallinn was based on Latvian newspapers, which reacted much more actively – people organized demonstration to support Estonians in Riga, President of Latvia and commander of military forces analyzed possible options to help Estonians and send supportive note. Government of Lithuania and society was not so supportive to Estonia as Latvia. The most sensitive and active reaction to coup was made by Lithuanian Defence and Intelligence institutions.

Lithuanian military forces used intelligence information about events in Tallinn based on reports of the Lithuanian diplomatic envoy  Jurgis Aukstuolaitis in Estonia. Lithuanian military authority, events in Tallinn, perceived as a communist ability to expand power in the whole Baltic states, that communist are still funded and are eager to make military revolts in future. Therefore Commander of Lithuanian military forces increased the level of awareness of the 5 infantry regiment, which was located in Kaunas and it was left on alert until the January 1925, in order to help police to suppress possible uprising. At the same time they established much tougher control of soldiers in military units. Lithuanian communist party intensified propaganda among the soldiers and some of them (which were suspected having relations with communist party, at that time there was no clearance procedure for conscripts) were arrested. On January of 1925 in the Headquarters of Lithuanian army prepared plans how to react to similar communist event in Lithuania which would be explained during the conference. Controversial fact is that plan was used against democratically elected Lithuanian government by the officers - organizers of the coup d’etat of 1926.

Lithuanian defense institutions reacted to coup in Tallinn so sensitively because there was the second communist attempt to seize power in Baltics using military forces after they gained independence. The first attempt to inspire communist uprising in Lithuania happened on 22 – 24 of February 1920. That time communist penetrated Lithuanian military forces and inspired armed revolt in Kaunas garrison, which was suppressed after the heavy fight by reliable to government units. So far as I understand the process of coup in Tallinn, there is potential to compare two of those coup in order to reveal the Bolshevik strategy and tactics to penetrate military forces in Baltics.


Sylwia Szyc