Jonas Deksnys – A Broken Partisan

A compelling description of Britain’s attempts to run agents in the Baltics after WW2 is told in Tom Bower’s 1989 book, The Red Web.

Working with agents in Sweden, the UK sent in boat after boat of Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians to land on the beach of Palanga and make their way inland to determine Soviet military capabilities for the feared and anticipated sweep across the Western Europe.

For their part, the men going in had some of their own ideas. On the one hand, Lithuanian partisans were getting help from no one else, so they took what they could from the Brits as a way back into the countries that were still fighting a failing rearguard battle against the Soviets years after the war ended in the west.

On the other hand, some of those going back in were Soviet agents. Indeed, the whole operation as compromised from the very beginning.

Some of British spies were turned and some were killed, and at least one lived long enough to see independence (I’ll talk a bit more about him next week, when I review the television series, Slaptieji XX a. Archyvai).

Shortly after the British attempts, the Americans got into the act. Although these landings were not compromised from inside, they were no more successful than the British ones.

Bower’s book, fascinating in itself, was one of the building blocks in the late Liutas Mockunas’s book, Pavarges Herojus (The Exhausted Hero).

That book was a valuable source to me in the personality of Jonas Deksnys, initially a hero of the Lithuanian resistance, but a man whose end was worthy of chapter in the work of John Le Carré.

Since Le Carré had not written about him, I did.

Jonas Deksnys was initially a hero of the Lithuanian resistance, but when he went back into Lithuania for the British, he was captured and turned. When his usefulness as over, he spent the last years of his life as a pathetic mooch at the Hotel Neringa bar in Vilnius.