Jonas Noreika (8 October 1910 – 26 February 1947), also known by his post-war nom de guerreGenerolas Vėtra (lit. ‘General Storm‘), was a Lithuaniananti-Sovietpartisan, military officer, Nazi collaborator and a prisoner at the Nazi Stutthof concentration camp (1942-45).
In July 1941, he was the leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front in the Telšiai district. Noreika ordered the murder of 1,800 Jews in the Plungė massacre, and later served as governor of the Šiauliai district during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, where he signed orders confining the district’s Jews in a ghetto and confiscating their property. Noreika later became one of 46 Lithuanian authority and intellectual figures who were imprisoned by the Nazis at Stutthof concentration camp from March 1943 until the camp’s dissolution on 25 January 1945 for inciting resistance to Nazi mobilization efforts. During the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Noreika was drafted into the Soviet Army, then worked as a jurist in Vilnius, where he was an organizer of the anti-Soviet Lithuanian National Council. He was arrested by the Soviets in March 1946 and executed on 26 February 1947.
Noreika was born in Šukioniai in western Lithuania in 1910. He studied law at Vytautas Magnus University, and went on to serve in the military. He wrote for the military press and served on a military tribunal, and was later promoted to captain.
In 1933, Noreika published an anti-Semitic booklet titled Hold Your Head High, Lithuanian!!!, which called for a total economic boycott of Lithuanian Jews on nationalistic grounds. In 1939, in the military magazine Kardas, he published an essay, “The Fruitfulness of Authoritarian Politics”, praising the leadership of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Soviet forces occupied Lithuania in June 1940, and Noreika was released into the reserves that October. He is credited as the leading organizer in Samogitia of the underground, anti-Soviet Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF). Noreika was also a prominent publisher in Plungė of underground leaflets, including Brangūs vergaujantys broliai! (‘Dear Slaving Brothers!’, 1941) which called for ethnic cleansing.
Noreika made several trips back and forth to Nazi Germany with the help of former police officer Kazys Šilgalis, and maintained contacts with Pilypas Narutis of LAF Kaunas, Juozas Kilius of LAF Vilnius. However, and Voldemarists Klemensas Brunius and Stasys Puodžius of LAF Königsberg, who were the liaisons with the German army’s high command Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, military intelligence Abwehr, and LAF’s network of messengers.
At the start of the June Uprising in Lithuania, on 22 June 1941, Noreika led a platoon of farmers and youths in Mardosai. German scouts brought him to Memel, where he was given instructions, armbands, and weapons.