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The Soviet occupation of the Baltic states covers the period from the Soviet–Baltic mutual assistance pacts in 1939, to their invasion and annexation in 1940, to the mass deportations of 1941.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 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.
In September and October 1939 the Soviet government compelled the much smaller Baltic states to conclude mutual assistance pacts which gave the Soviets the right to establish military bases there. Following invasion by the Red Army in the summer of 1940, Soviet authorities compelled the Baltic governments to resign. The presidents of Estonia and Latvia were imprisoned and later died in Siberia. Under Soviet supervision, new puppet communist governments and fellow travelers arranged rigged elections with falsified results. Shortly thereafter, the newly elected "people's assemblies" passed resolutions requesting admission into the Soviet Union. In June 1941 the new Soviet governments carried out mass deportations of "enemies of the people". Consequently, at first many Balts greeted the Germans as liberators when they occupied the area a week later.
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.
Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering a total area of 45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi), water 2,839 km2 (1,096 sq mi), land area 42,388 km2 (16,366 sq mi), and is influenced by a humid continental climate. The official language of the country, Estonian, is the second most spoken Finnic language.
Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.
After the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939, in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact the Soviet forces were given freedom over Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, an important aspect of the agreement to the Soviet government as they were afraid of Germany using the three states as a corridor to get close to Leningrad. 31 The Soviets pressured Finland and the Baltic states to conclude mutual assistance treaties. The Soviets questioned the neutrality of Estonia following the escape of a Polish submarine from Tallinn on 18 September. A week later, on 24 September 1939, the Estonian foreign minister was given an ultimatum in Moscow. The Soviets demanded the conclusion of a treaty of mutual assistance to establish military bases in Estonia. The Estonians had no choice but to allow the establishment of Soviet naval, air and army bases on two Estonian islands and at the port of Paldiski. The corresponding agreement was signed on 28 September 1939. Latvia followed on 5 October 1939 and Lithuania shortly thereafter, on 10 October 1939. The agreements permitted the Soviet Union to establish military bases on the Baltic states' territory for the duration of the European war, and station 25,000 Soviet soldiers in Estonia, 30,000 in Latvia and 20,000 in Lithuania from October 1939.:
The Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war. On 17 September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, sixteen days after Germany invaded Poland from the west. Subsequent military operations lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly approved by Germany following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively. The pact was also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the Hitler–Stalin Pact, or the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact.
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in Harju County. From the 13th century until 1918, the city was known as Reval. Tallinn occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) and has a population of 453,033.
In 1939 Finland had rejected similar Soviet demands for Finland ceding or leasing parts of its territory. Consequently, the Soviet Union attacked Finland, starting the Winter War in November. The war ended in March 1940 with Finnish territorial losses exceeding the pre-war Soviet demands, but Finland kept its sovereignty. The Baltic states were neutral in the Winter War and the Soviets praised their relations with the USSR as exemplary.
Finland, officially the Republic of Finland is a country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is a Nordic country and is situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.
The background of the Winter War covers the period before the outbreak of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939–1940, stretching from Finland's Declaration of Independence in 1917 to the Soviet-Finnish negotiations in 1938–1939. Before its independence, Finland was an autonomous grand duchy inside Imperial Russia. During the ensuing Finnish Civil War, the Red Guards, supported by the Russian Bolsheviks, were defeated. Fearful of Soviet designs, during the 1920s and 1930s, the Finns were constantly attempting to align themselves with Scandinavian neutrality, particularly with regard to Sweden. Furthermore, the Finns engaged in secret military co-operation with Estonia in the 1930s.
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organisation.
The Soviet troops allocated for possible military actions against the Baltic states numbered 435,000 troops, around 8,000 guns and mortars, over 3,000 tanks, and over 500 armoured cars.On 3 June 1940 all Soviet military forces based in Baltic states were concentrated under the command of Aleksandr Loktionov. On 9 June the directive 02622ss/ov was given to the Red Army's Leningrad Military District by Semyon Timoshenko to be ready by 12 June to a) capture the vessels of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian navies in their bases or at sea; b) capture the Estonian and Latvian commercial fleets and all other vessels; c) prepare for an invasion and landing in Tallinn and Paldiski; d) close the Gulf of Riga and blockade the coasts of Estonia and Latvia in the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea; e) prevent an evacuation of the Estonian and Latvian governments, military forces and assets; f) provide naval support for an invasion towards Rakvere; and g) prevent Estonian and Latvian airplanes from flying either to Finland or Sweden.
Aleksandr Dmitrievich Loktionov was a Soviet general.
The Leningrad Military District was a military district of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In 2010 it was merged with the Moscow Military District, the Northern Fleet and the Baltic Fleet to form the new Western Military District.
Semyon Konstantinovich Timoshenko was a Soviet military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union.
On 12 June 1940, according to the director of the Russian State Archive of the Naval Department Pavel Petrov (C.Phil.) referring to the records in the archive,the Soviet Baltic Fleet was ordered to implement a total military blockade of Estonia. On 13 June at 10:40 AM Soviet forces started to move to their positions and were ready by 14 June at 10 PM: Four submarines and a number of light navy units were positioned in the Baltic Sea, in the Gulfs of Riga and Finland to isolate the Baltic states by the sea; a navy squadron including three destroyer divisions was positioned to the west of Naissaar in order to support the invasion; the 1st marine brigade's four battalions were positioned on the transport ships Sibir, 2nd Pjatiletka and Elton for landings on the islands Naissaare and Aegna; the transport ship Dnester and destroyers Storozevoi and Silnoi were positioned with troops for the invasion of the capital Tallinn; the 50th battalion was positioned on ships for an invasion near Kunda. 120 Soviet vessels participated in the naval blockade, including one cruiser, seven destroyers, and seventeen submarines, along with 219 airplanes including the 8th air-brigade with 84 DB-3 and Tupolev SB bombers and the 10th brigade with 62 airplanes.
The Baltic Fleet is the fleet of the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea.
Naissaar is an island northwest of Tallinn in Estonia. The island covers an area of 18.6 square kilometres. It is 8 kilometres long and 3.5 kilometres wide, and lies about 8.5 kilometres from the mainland. The highest point on the island is Kunilamägi, which is 27 metres above sea level. The island consists predominantly of coniferous forest and piles of stones and boulders. As of 2005, the island had a population of ten. Now the island has three dozen or so permanent residents and some summer residents. Administratively the island is divided into three villages: Lõunaküla (Storbyn), Tagaküla (Bakbyn) and Väikeheinamaa (Lillängin).
Aegna is an Estonian island in the Bay of Tallinn in the Baltic Sea. Administratively it is part of the city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia and is a sub district of the Kesklinn district.
On 14 June 1940 the Soviets issued an ultimatum to Lithuania. The Soviet military blockade of Estonia went into effect while the world's attention was focused on the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany. Two Soviet bombers downed the Finnish passenger airplane "Kaleva" flying from Tallinn to Helsinki carrying three diplomatic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki. The US Foreign Service employee Henry W. Antheil Jr. was killed in the crash.
Molotov had accused the Baltic states of conspiracy against the Soviet Union and delivered an ultimatum to all Baltic countries for the establishment of Soviet-approved governments. Threatening invasion and accusing the three states of violating the original pacts as well as forming a conspiracy against the Soviet Union, Moscow presented ultimatums, demanding new concessions, which included the replacement of their governments and allowing an unlimited number of troops to enter the three countries.
The Baltic governments had decided that, given their international isolation and the overwhelming Soviet forces on their borders and already on their territories, it was futile to actively resist and better to avoid bloodshed in an unwinnable war.The occupation of the Baltic states coincided with a communist coup d'état in each country, supported by the Soviet troops.
On 15 June the USSR invaded Lithuania.The Soviet troops attacked the Latvian border guards at Masļenki. On 16 June 1940 the USSR invaded Estonia and Latvia. According to a Time magazine article published at the time of the invasions, in a matter of days around 500,000 Soviet Red Army troops occupied the three Baltic states – just one week before the Fall of France to Nazi Germany.
Soviet troops in the hundreds of thousands entered Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.The Soviet military forces far outnumbered the armies of each country.
Most of the Estonian Defence Forces and the Estonian Defence League surrendered according to the orders of the Estonian Government and were disarmed by the Red Army.Only the Estonian Independent Signal Battalion stationed in Tallinn at Raua Street showed resistance to the Red Army and "People's Self-Defence" Communist militia, fighting the invading troops on 21 June 1940. As the Red Army brought in additional reinforcements supported by six armoured fighting vehicles, the battle lasted several hours until sundown. Finally the military resistance was ended with negotiations and the Independent Signal Battalion surrendered and was disarmed. There were two dead Estonian servicemen, Aleksei Männikus and Johannes Mandre, and several wounded on the Estonian side and about ten killed and more wounded on the Soviet side. The Soviet militia that participated in the battle was led by Nikolai Stepulov.
Governments in exile - with legations in London - were recognised by a number of Western governments throughout the Cold War. With the reestablishment of independence by the Soviet Republics leaving the USSR, these governments in exile were integrated into the new governing establishments.
Political repressions followed with mass deportations of around 130,000 citizens carried out by the Soviets. 48 The Serov Instructions, "On the Procedure for carrying out the Deportation of Anti-Soviet Elements from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia", contained detailed procedures and protocols to observe in the deportation of Baltic nationals.:
The Soviets began a constitutional metamorphosis of the Baltic states by first forming transitional "People's Governments."Led by Stalin’s close associates, and local communist supporters as well as officials brought in from the Soviet Union, they forced the presidents and governments of all three countries to resign, replacing them with the provisional People's Governments.
On 14–15 July, following illegal amendments to the electoral laws of the respective states, rigged parliamentary elections for the "People's Parliaments"were conducted by local Communists loyal to the Soviet Union. The laws were worded in such a way that the Communists and their allies were the only ones allowed to run. The election results were completely fabricated: the Soviet press service released them early, with the results having already appeared in print in a London newspaper a full 24 hours before the polls closed. The "People's Parliaments" met on 21 July, each with only one piece of business—a request to join the Soviet Union. These requests carried unanimously. In early August, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR "accepted" all three requests. The official Soviet line was that all three Baltic states carried out socialist revolutions and voluntarily requested to join the Soviet Union.
The new Soviet-installed governments in the Baltic states began to align their policies with current Soviet practices.According to the prevailing doctrine in the process, the old "bourgeois" societies were destroyed so that new socialist societies, run by loyal Soviet citizens, could be constructed in their place.
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.
The Singing Revolution is a commonly used name for events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The term was coined by an Estonian activist and artist, Heinz Valk, in an article published a week after the 10–11 June 1988, spontaneous mass evening singing demonstrations at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.
The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Latvia or Latvia, was a republic of the Soviet Union.
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.
Jüri Uluots was an Estonian prime minister, journalist, prominent attorney and distinguished Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Tartu.
Estonia–Russia relations refers to bilateral foreign relations between Estonia and Russia. Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian SFSR were established on 2 February 1920, when Bolshevist Russia recognized de jure the independence of the Republic of Estonia, and renounced in perpetuity all rights to the territory of Estonia, via the Treaty of Tartu (Russian–Estonian). At the time, the Bolsheviks had just gained control of the majority of Russian territory, and their government's legitimacy was being hotly contested by Western powers and the Russian White movement.
During World War II, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed several countries effectively handed over by Nazi Germany in the secret protocol Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. These included Eastern Poland, as well as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, part of eastern Finland and eastern Romania. Apart from Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and post-war division of Germany, USSR also occupied and annexed Carpathian Ruthenia from Czechoslovakia in 1945.
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.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, concerning the partition and disposition of sovereign states, including Estonia, and in particular its Secret Additional Protocol of August 1939.
State continuity of the Baltic states describes the continuity of the Baltic states as legal entities under international law while under Soviet rule and German occupation from 1940 to 1991. The prevailing opinion accepts the Baltic thesis of illegal occupation and the actions of the USSR are regarded as contrary to international law in general and to the bilateral treaties between the USSR and the Baltic states in particular.
The Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 refers, according to the European Court of Human Rights, the Government of Latvia, the United States Department of State, and the European Union, to the military occupation of the Republic of Latvia by the Soviet Union ostensibly under the provisions of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany.
Relevant events began regarding the Baltic states and the Soviet Union when, following Bolshevist Russia's conflict with the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia—several peace treaties were signed with Russia and its successor, the Soviet Union. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Soviet Union and all three Baltic States further signed non-aggression treaties. The Soviet Union also confirmed that it would adhere to the Kellogg–Briand Pact with regard to its neighbors, including Estonia and Latvia, and entered into a convention defining "aggression" that included all three Baltic countries.
The Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Lithuania before midnight of June 14, 1940. The Soviets, using a formal pretext, demanded to allow an unspecified number of Soviet soldiers to enter the Lithuanian territory and to form a new pro-Soviet government. The ultimatum and subsequent incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union stemmed from the division of Eastern Europe into the German and Russian spheres of influence in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. Lithuania, along with Latvia and Estonia, fell into the Russian sphere. According to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty of October 1939, Lithuania agreed to allow some 20,000 of Soviets troops to be stationed at several bases within Lithuania in exchange for a portion of the Vilnius Region. Further Soviet actions to establish its dominance in its sphere of influence were delayed by the Winter War with Finland and resumed in spring 1940 when Germany was making rapid advances in western Europe. Despite the threat to the independence, Lithuanian authorities did little to plan for contingencies and were unprepared for the ultimatum.
Timeline of the occupation of the Baltic States lists key events in the military occupation of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by the Soviet Union and by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The Sovietization of the Baltic states refers to the sovietization of all spheres of life in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania when they were under control of the Soviet Union. The first period deals with the occupation from June 1940 to July 1941 when the German occupation began. The second period covers 1944 when the Soviet forces pushed the German out, until 1991 when independence was declared.
The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Estonia or Estonia was an unrecognized republic of the Soviet Union, administered by a subordinate of the Soviet government. The ESSR was initially established on the territory of the Republic of Estonia on 21 July 1940, following the invasion of Soviet troops on 17 June 1940, and the installation of a puppet government backed by the Soviet Union, which declared Estonia a Soviet constituency. The Estonian SSR was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet state on 9 August 1940. The territory was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 and administered as a part of Reichskommissariat Ostland.
The background of the occupation of the Baltic states covers the period before the first Soviet occupation on 14 June 1940, stretching from independence in 1918 to the Soviet ultimatums in 1939–1940. The Baltic states gained their independence during and after the Russian revolutions of 1917; Lenin's government allowed them to secede. They managed to sign non-aggression treaties in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the treaties, the Baltic states were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940 in the aftermath of the German–Soviet pact of 1939.
The Soviet Union occupied most of the territory of the Baltic states in its 1944 Baltic Offensive during World War II. The Red Army regained control over the three Baltic capitals and encircled retreating Wehrmacht and Latvian forces in the Courland Pocket where they held out until the final German surrender at the end of the war. The German forces were deported and the leaders of Latvian collaborating forces were executed as traitors. After the war, the Soviet Union reestablished control over the Baltic territories in line with its forcible annexations as communist republics in 1940.
The Soviet–Estonian Mutual Assistance Treaty, also known as the Bases Treaty was a bilateral treaty signed in Moscow on 28 September 1939. The treaty obliged both parties to respect each other's sovereignty and independence, and allowed the Soviet government to establish military bases in Estonia. These bases facilitated the Soviet takeover of the country in June 1940.
The Soviet–Latvian Mutual Assistance Treaty was a bilateral treaty signed in Moscow on October 5, 1939. The treaty obliged both parties to respect each other's sovereignty and independence, while in practice allowed the Soviet government to establish military bases in Latvia, which facilitated the Soviet invasion of that country in June 1940.