Guerrilla war in the Baltic states

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Guerilla war in the Baltic states
Part of Occupation of the Baltic states
Ants Kaljurand.jpg
Mugshot of Ants Kaljurand, a famous Estonian resistance fighter of the Forest Brothers, taken in the Soviet Union some time before his death in 1951.
Date1940–1956
Location
Result

Soviet victory

  • Defeat of national partisans
Belligerents

Forest Brothers

Supported by:
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg  Soviet Union
Strength
~50,000 partisans Unknown
Casualties and losses
Flag of Estonia.svg 561 killed, 4,285 injured
Flag of Latvia.svg 1,458 killed, 5,052 injured
Flag of Lithuania.svg 20,103 killed [1] [2]

Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet armed forces:
In Lithuania:
13,000 killed [3]
In Latvia:
1,562 killed, 560 wounded [4]
In Estonia:
unknown

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4,000 pro-Soviet collaborators killed by Forest Brothers [5]

The Guerrilla war in the Baltic states or the Forest Brothers resistance movement was the armed struggle against Soviet rule that spanned from 1940 to the mid-1950s. [6] After the occupation of the Baltic territories by the Soviets in 1944, an insurgency started. According to some estimates, 10,000 partisans in Estonia, 10,000 partisans in Latvia and 30,000 partisans in Lithuania and many more supporters were involved. This war continued as an organised struggle until 1956 when the superiority of the Soviet military caused the native population to adopt other forms of resistance. While estimates related to the extent of partisan movement vary, but there seems to be a consensus among researchers that by international standards, the Baltic guerrilla movements were extensive. Proportionally, the partisan movement in the post-war Baltic states was of a similar size as the Viet Cong movement in South Vietnam. [7]

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Occupation of the Baltic states period in history of the Baltic States (1940–1991)

The occupation of the Baltic states involved the military occupation of the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—by the Soviet Union under the auspices of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in June 1940. They were then incorporated into the Soviet Union as constituent republics in August 1940, though most Western powers never recognised their incorporation. On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and within weeks occupied the Baltic territories. In July 1941, the Third Reich incorporated the Baltic territory into its Reichskommissariat Ostland. As a result of the Red Army's Baltic Offensive of 1944, the Soviet Union recaptured most of the Baltic states and trapped the remaining German forces in the Courland pocket until their formal surrender in May 1945. The Soviet "annexation occupation" or occupation sui generis of the Baltic states lasted until August 1991, when the three countries regained their independence.

Baltic states Countries east of the Baltic Sea

The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term used for grouping the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or language. The three countries do not form an official union, but engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation.

See also

Forest Brothers

The Forest Brothers were Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans who waged a guerrilla war against Soviet rule during the Soviet invasion and occupation of the three Baltic states during, and after, World War II. Similar anti-Soviet Eastern European resistance groups fought against Soviet and communist rule in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and western Ukraine.

Operation Priboi was the code name for the Soviet mass deportation from the Baltic states on 25–28 March 1949. The action is also known as the March deportation by Baltic historians. More than 90,000 Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, labeled as enemies of the people, were deported to forced settlements in inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union. Over 70% of the deportees were women, and children under the age of 16.

Related Research Articles

Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army and an insurgency or resistance movement militias who often have status of unlawful combatants.

A resistance movement is an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to withstand the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability. It may seek to achieve its objectives through either the use of nonviolent resistance, or the use of force, whether armed or unarmed. In many cases, as for example in Norway in the Second World War, a resistance movement may employ both violent and non-violent methods, usually operating under different organizations and acting in different phases or geographical areas within a country.

Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic union republic of the Soviet Union

The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Latvia or Latvia, was a republic of the Soviet Union.

Soviet partisans Wikimedia list article

The Soviet partisans were members of resistance movements that fought a guerrilla war against the Axis forces in the Soviet Union, the previously Soviet-occupied territories of interwar Poland in 1941–45 and eastern Finland. The activity emerged after the Nazi German Operation Barbarossa during World War II, and according to Great Soviet Encyclopedia it was coordinated and controlled by the Soviet government and modelled on that of the Red Army. The partisans made significant contributions to the war by frustrating German plans to exploit occupied Soviet territories economically, gave considerable help to the Soviet Army by conducting systematic strikes against Germany's rear communication network, disseminated political work among the local population by publishing newspapers and leaflets, and succeeded in creating and maintaining a feeling of insecurity among German forces.

Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation, disinformation and propaganda, to hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns. In many countries, resistance movements were sometimes also referred to as The Underground.

A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity. The term can apply to the field element of resistance movements, examples of which are the civilians who opposed Nazi German, Fascist Italian and Ustaše Croatian rule in several countries during World War II.

German occupation of Latvia during World War II

The occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany was completed on July 10, 1941 by Germany's armed forces. Latvia became a part of Nazi Germany's Reichskommissariat Ostland—the Province General of Latvia. Anyone not racially acceptable or who opposed the German occupation, as well as those who had cooperated with the Soviet Union, were killed or sent to concentration camps in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost.

A large number of Latvians resisted the occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany. The Latvian resistance movement was divided between the pro-independence units under the Latvian Central Council and the pro-Soviet units under the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement in Moscow. Around 22,000 deserted both from the Red Army and German Army during 1943–45 in Latvia. Daugavpils was the scene of fierce Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Many local Latvians were actively involved in the resistance movement against the ethnic policies of the German occupation regime. Žanis Lipke risked his life to save more than 50 Jews. 134 Latvians later have been honored with the title Righteous Among the Nations.

Resistance in Lithuania during World War II

During World War II, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union (1940–1941), Nazi Germany (1941–1944), and the Soviet Union again in 1944. Resistance during this period took many forms. Significant parts of the resistance were formed by Polish and Soviet forces, some of which fought with Lithuanian collaborators. This article presents a summary of the organizations, persons and actions involved.

German occupation of the Baltic states during World War II

The occupation of the Baltic states by Nazi Germany occurred during Operation Barbarossa from 1941 to 1944. Initially, many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians considered the Germans as liberators from the Soviet Union. The Balts hoped for the restoration of independence, but instead the Germans established a provisional government. During the occupation the Germans carried out discrimination, mass deportations and mass killings generating Baltic resistance movements.

Anti-Soviet partisans

Anti-Soviet partisans may refer to various resistance movements that opposed Soviet Union and its satellite states at various periods during the 20th century.

The Soviet partisans in Latvia were Soviet partisans who were deployed to Latvia and attempted to wage guerrilla warfare against the German armed forces during the German occupation of Latvia. Partisan activity was singularly unsuccessful in Latvia due to the general resistance of the population to the Soviet regime that the partisans represented.

Latvian partisans

Latvian national partisans were the Latvian national partisans who waged guerrilla warfare against Soviet rule during and after Second World War.

Lithuanian partisans

The Lithuanian partisans were partisans who waged a guerrilla warfare in Lithuania against the Soviet Union in 1944–1953. Similar anti-Soviet resistance groups, also known as Forest Brothers and cursed soldiers, fought against Soviet rule in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Galicia. It is estimated that a total of 30,000 Lithuanian partisans and their supporters were killed.

Soviet re-occupation of Latvia in 1944

The Soviet re-occupation of Latvia in 1944 refers to the military occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union in 1944. During World War II Latvia was first occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944 after which it was re-occupied by the Soviet Union.

German occupation of Lithuania during World War II

The occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany lasted from the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 to the end of the Battle of Memel on January 28, 1945. At first the Germans were welcomed as liberators from the repressive Soviet regime which occupied Lithuania prior to the German arrival. In hopes of re-establishing independence or regaining some autonomy, Lithuanians organized their Provisional Government. Soon the Lithuanian attitudes towards the Germans changed into passive resistance.

The Soviet partisans in Estonia were Communist partisans who attempted to wage guerrilla warfare against the German armed forces during the German occupation of Estonia. Partisan activity was singularly unsuccessful in Estonia due to the general resistance of the population to the Soviet regime that the partisans represented. The majority of partisans sent in by the Soviets were quickly picked up by the local Estonian militias.

The Central and Eastern European anti-Communist insurgencies fought on after the official end of the Second World War against the Soviet Union and the communist states formed under Soviet occupation and support.

References

  1. Lietuvos istorijos atlasas. Compiled by Arūnas Latišenka. Briedis. 2001. p. 25
  2. Clodfelter, p. 538
  3. Clodfelter, p. 538
  4. Plakans, Andrejs. The Latvians: A Short History, 155. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1995.
  5. Clodfelter, p. 538
  6. Statiev, Alexander (2010). The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Ziemele, Ineta (2005). State Continuity and Nationality: The Baltic States and Russia. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 25. ISBN   90-04-14295-9.