Jonas Zemaitis (also known under his codename Vytautas; March 15, 1909 in Palanga – November 26, 1954 in Moscow) was one of the leaders of armed resistance against the Soviet occupation in Lithuania and acknowledged as the Head of State of contemporary occupied Lithuania.
Zemaitis was born to Jonas Zemaitis and Petronele Dauksaite. Despite the fact that his father was non-religious, Zemaitis was christened in Palanga's church. From 1910 to 1917 he lived with his parents in Lomża, Poland, where his uncle A. Dauksa owned a large dairy farm. In Lomża, Zemaitis attended primary school while his parents were working. In 1917, Zemaitis returned to Lithuania and settled down in the Siluva region, in the village of Kiaulininkai, where his grandparents lived. In 1921, he finished Raseiniai Gymnasium First Class. In 1926, started studying in Kaunas Military School. In 1929 he finished this school and became a lieutenant. Zemaitis started soldiering in The Second Flock Of Artillery as a commander. 1936 - 1938 Zemaitis studied in Fontainebleu school of artillery (Ecole d’Artillerie de Fontainebleau). After the pupillage Zemaitis acquired the rank of captain and directed to flocks of Lithuania military forces.
After the USSR occupation of Lithuania in 1940, Zemaitis continued his active service in the 617th flock of artillery, where he held the position of head of swarm school. At the beginning of the war between the USSR and Nazi Germany waylayed Zemaitis in the ground of VarEna. After receiving the order to retreat to the east, Zemaitis and a group of soldiers consciously fell behind and surrendered to the captivity of Germans. He did not want to serve the Nazis, and therefore he retired and settled down in Kaunas. He worked as a technician of peat extraction.
Jonas Zemaitis Monument in front of the Ministry of National Defence, Vilnius.
In 1944 he joined the Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force, organized by Povilas PlechaviCius. After the force was disbanded by the Nazis, Zemaitis went into hiding. When the Red Army returned to Lithuania, Zemaitis joined the Lithuanian Freedom Army and the Lithuanian partisans, steadily rising to a position of leadership. In February 1949 he established the Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters and became its chairman; he worked to continue partisan resistance to Soviet occupation and legitimize the actions of the partisans. In December 1951 he was stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage and became paralyzed. In May 1953 his place of hiding was discovered by Soviet agents and he was arrested. After being transported to Moscow, he was interrogated by Lavrentiy Beria and was executed in the Butyrka prison in 1954.
Jonas Zemaitis is the namesake of the General Jonas Zemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania. In 1995 a documentary Ketvirtasis Prezidentas (The Fourth President) was released about his life.
Posthumously Jonas Zemaitis-Vytautas was awarded the rank of Brigadier General and was officially named as the fourth President of Lithuania in March 2009.