Disinfo: Name of the “Iron Wolf” NATO exercises in Lithuania is a reference to fascism and Adolf Hitler


The “Iron Wolf” was the name of a Lithuanian fascist union, which was established in 1927 under the authoritarian rule of Antanas Smetona. The decision to call the NATO exercises taking place in Lithuania with this name is a provocation – this signal is clearly aimed against Russia.

All allusions concerning the “wolf” are a reference to Adolf Hitler, as his headquarters were called Wolfschanze (Wolf’s Lair).


This message is a part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism – it continuously accuses the Baltic states of their support for the Nazi or Fascist ideology. Any disagreement with the official Kremlin’s view on the history of the Baltic states is automatically labelled by Russia as support for “Nazism”.

The Iron Wolf is a mythical character from a medieval legend of the founding of the city of Vilnius. The name of the Iron Wolf holds one of the most important units of the Lithuanian Army - Mechanised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf”.

A Lithuanian paramilitary organization “Iron Wolf” (“Geležinis Vilkas”) existed in 1927-1934 – it united mainly young army officers. In 1934, the followers of the “Iron Wolf” tried to implement the coup d'état against President Smetona – the coup failed, and the organization was destroyed by the Lithuanian authorities. Thus, this organization stopped to exist very quickly after Hitler came to power in Germany.
The claim that “any allusions concerning the “wolf” is a reference to Adolf Hitler as his headquarters were called Wolfschanze (Wolf's Lair)” cannot be taken seriously – it is a common word used all over the world without any alleged references to Hitler.

In other words, the name of NATO exercises “Iron Wolf” clearly refers to the well-known legend about the Iron Wolf, a mythical founder of the city of Vilnius (not depending on the grammar form of this name in Lithuanian – “Geležinis Vilkas” or „Geležinio Vilko”).

See other cases on the Baltic states – Baltic states are perpetuating the myth of Soviet occupation; Estonian authorities paying tribute to Hitler’s Cross of Liberty; Baltic states benefited from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.


  • Reported in: Issue 173
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/11/2019
  • Language/target audience: Polish
  • Country: Russia, Baltic states, Lithuania
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Historical revisionism, Lithuanian military, Military exercise, Adolf Hitler, NATO, Nazi/Fascist


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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