Sovietization of the Baltic states

Last updated

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.

Contents

Immediate post occupation

Plaque on the building of Government of Estonia, Toompea, commemorating government members killed by communist terror PlaqueMemorizingEstonianGovernment.jpg
Plaque on the building of Government of Estonia, Toompea, commemorating government members killed by communist terror

After the Soviet invasion of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania in 1940 the repressions followed with the mass deportations carried out by the Soviets. The Serov Instructions, "On the Procedure for carrying out the Deportation of Anti-Soviet Elements from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia", contained detailed instructions for procedures and protocols to observe in the deportation of Baltic nationals.

The local Communist parties emerged from underground with 1500 members in Lithuania, 500 in Latvia and 133 members in Estonia. [1]

Transitional governments 1940

The Soviets began a constitutional metamorphosis of the Baltic states by first forming transitional "Peoples Governments." [2] Led by Stalin’s close associates, [3] the local communist supporters and those brought in from Russia, forced the presidents and governments of all three countries to resign, replacing them with the provisional People's.

The Soviets did not immediately install the virtually unknown leaders of the tiny existing Communist parties in each state, but rather put together a broadly left-wing coalition while simultaneously having Soviet emissaries present lists for cabinet installations about which even minor changes would not be sanctioned. [2] The new cabinets at first denied any intention of setting up Soviet regimes, not to mention incorporation into the Soviet Union, instead claiming only to remove "fascist" politicians from office. [4]

In late June and early July, the cabinets announced that the Communist Parties were the only legal political parties. [4] All non-Communist controlled public activity was proscribed, while political, social ideological and religious groups which could be subsumed into the Communist fronts were disbanded, including even the Boy Scouts. [5] Police forces were replaced by specially recruited militias. [6] Formed "Peoples Armies" were rapidly Sovietized in preparation for their eventual absorption into the Red Army. [6]

Rigged elections 1940

On July 14–15, 1940, rigged parliamentary elections for the "People's Parliaments" [7] were conducted by local Communists loyal to the Soviet Union. Because of newly installed election restrictions, only the Communists and their allies were effectively allowed to run. [7] [8] The election results were completely fabricated to give the Communists large majorities: the Soviet press service released them early, with the result that they had already appeared in print in a London newspaper a full 24 hours before the polls closed. [9] [10]

The new assemblies met for the first time in late July, in each case with a single order of business—petitions to join the Soviet Union. This belied claims prior to the elections that no such action would be taken. [8] In each case, the petitions passed. In due course, the Soviet Union "accepted" all three petitions and formally annexed the three countries. The Soviet Union, and later Russia, used these votes to buttress its claim that the Baltic peoples had voluntarily requested to join the Soviet Union after carrying out socialist revolutions in their countries.

Public tribunals were also set up to punish "traitors to the people": those who had fallen short of the "political duty" of voting their countries into the USSR. [11]

Mass deportations 1940–1941

Memorial to deported Latvian children who died in exile, 1941-1949 MirLatBern.jpg
Memorial to deported Latvian children who died in exile, 1941-1949

Immediately after the elections, NKVD units under the leadership of Ivan Serov arrested more than 15,000 "hostile elements" and members of their families. [12] Arrests and deportations began slowly, partly because of the language problems, as not enough Soviet officials were capable of reading the local language documents. [13] :47 In the first year of Soviet occupation, from June 1940 to June 1941, the number confirmed executed, conscripted, or deported is estimated at a minimum of 124,467: 59,732 in Estonia, 34,250 in Latvia, and 30,485 in Lithuania. [14] This included eight former heads of state and 38 ministers from Estonia, three former heads of state and 15 ministers from Latvia, and the then president, five prime ministers and 24 other ministers from Lithuania. [15] A large-scale operation was planned for the night of 27–28 June 1941. It was postponed until after the war when the Germans invaded the USSR on June 22, 1941 Operation Barbarossa. [12] A Lithuanian government official claimed to have seen a Soviet document suggesting that 700,000 deportations were envisaged from Lithuania alone. [13] :48

According to historian Robert Conquest, the selective deportations from the Baltic States represented the policy of "decapitation" of the nation by removing its political and social elite, "as was later evidently to be the motive for the Katyn massacre." [16]

Soviet governments 1940–1941

The new Soviet-installed governments in the Baltic states began to align their policies with current Soviet practices. [17] 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. [17] The reconstituted parliaments quickly proclaimed the nationalization of large industries, transportation, banks, private housing, and commerce in general. [17] Although land was now considered the property of the people, for the time being, the regimes expropriated only those holdings comprising 30 or more hectares (about 66 acres). [18] Around 100,000 ethnic German citizens were allowed to sell their land and property and leave the Baltic counties, and if they were racially acceptable, were resettled in Poland and given land and businesses in exchange for the money they had received from the sale of their previous possessions. [13] :46

By creating large numbers of small, nonviable farms, the Soviet regime intended to weaken the institution of private landholding so that later collectivization, a program of agricultural consolidation that was undertaken in the USSR a decade earlier with horrifying results, could be presented as an efficient alternative. [18] The Red Army quickly absorbed the military forces of the Baltic states. [18] Soviet security forces such as the NKVD, imposed strict censorship and press control. [18] In each of the new republics, churches and ecclesiastical property were nationalized, religious education and religious publications were forbidden, seminaries and monasteries were seized (often for the Red Army), and many clergymen were arrested. [18]

Western protests 1940

Between July and August 1940, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian envoys to the United States and the United Kingdom made official protests against Soviet occupation and annexation of their countries. The United States, [19] in accordance with the principles of the Stimson Doctrine (Sumner Welles' Declaration of July 23, 1940 [10] [20] ), as well as most other Western countries [21] [22] never formally recognized the annexation, but did not directly interfere with Soviet control. The Baltic States continued their de jure existence in accordance with international law. [23] [24]

Diplomatic and consular representations of the Baltic States continued to function between 1940 - 1991 in some Western countries (United States, Australia, Switzerland). [25] Members of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian diplomatic services in Western countries continued to formulate and express the official opinion of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and protected the interests of these countries and their citizens abroad between 19401991, i.e., until the restoration of independence of the Baltic States.

World War II 1944 re-occupation

The Soviet Union reoccupied the Baltic states as part of the Baltic Offensive in 1944, a twofold military-political operation to rout German forces and the "liberation of the Soviet Baltic peoples" [26] beginning in summer-autumn 1944, lasting until the capitulation of German and Latvian forces in Courland pocket in May 1945. An insurgency continued, resisting Soviet rule via armed struggle for a number of years. The Forest brothers, as they were known, enjoyed the material support among the local population[ citation needed ], as well as from the British (MI6), American, and Swedish secret intelligence services.

On January 12, 1949, in an effort to end the insurgency, the Soviet Council of Ministers issued a decree "on the expulsion and deportation" from Baltic states of "all kulaks and their families, the families of bandits and nationalists", and others. [12] More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been deported from the Baltic in 1940-1953. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulag. 10 percent of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to labor camps, [12] effectively breaking the back of the insurgency.

After World War II, as part of the goal to more fully integrate Baltic countries into the Soviet Union, mass deportations were concluded in the Baltic countries and the policy of encouraging Soviet immigration to the Baltic states continued. [27]

Independence 1991

In July 1989, following the dramatic events in East Germany (the fall of the Berlin Wall), the Supreme Soviets of the Baltic countries adopted a "Declaration of Sovereignties" and amended the Constitutions to assert the supremacy of their own laws over those of the USSR. Candidates from the pro-independence party Popular Fronts gained majority in the Supreme Councils in 1990 democratic elections. The Councils declared their intention to restore full independence. [27]

Soviet political and military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the governments. In 1991, Baltic countries claimed de facto independence. International recognition, including that of the USSR, followed. The United States, which had never recognized forcible annexation of the Baltic countries by the USSR, resumed full diplomatic relations with the republics. [27]

See also

Related Research Articles

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.

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 annexed into the Soviet Union as constituent republics in August 1940, though most Western powers and nations 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.

Forest Brothers resistance against the Soviet Union during and after World War II

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

Jüri Uluots Estonian prime minister

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.

Soviet deportations from Estonia were a series of mass deportations by the Soviet Union from Estonia in 1941 and 1945–1951.

State continuity of the Baltic states Legal continuity of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania under international law

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.

Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 Military occupation of the Republic of Latvia by the Soviet Union

The Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 refers to the military occupation of the Republic of Latvia by the Soviet Union under the provisions of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany and its Secret Additional Protocol signed in August 1939. The occupation took place according to the European Court of Human Rights, the Government of Latvia, the United States Department of State, and the European Union. In 1989, the USSR also condemned the 1939 secret protocol between Nazi Germany and herself that had led to the invasion and occupation of the three Baltic countries, including Latvia.

Latvian partisans

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

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.

Baltic–Soviet relations

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.

Soviet ultimatum to Lithuania

The Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Lithuania before midnight of June 14, 1940. The Soviets, using a formal pretext, demanded that an unspecified number of Soviet soldiers be allowed to enter the Lithuanian territory and that a new pro-Soviet government be formed. The ultimatum and subsequent incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union stemmed from the division of Eastern Europe into the German and Soviet spheres of influence agreed in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. Lithuania, along with Latvia and Estonia, fell into the Soviet sphere. According to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty of October 1939, Lithuania agreed to allow some 20,000 Soviets troops to be stationed at bases within Lithuania in exchange for receiving 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 country’s 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.

Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic union republic of the Soviet Union

The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic was a republic of the Soviet Union. 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 an illegitimate communist government backed by the Soviet Union, which declared Estonia a Soviet constituency. The Estonian SSR was subsequently incorporated into the Soviet Union as a Soviet Republic on 6 August 1940. The territory was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 and administered as a part of Reichskommissariat Ostland.

Background of the occupation of the Baltic states

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.

Baltic states under Soviet rule (1944–1991)

This Baltic states were under Soviet rule from the end of World War II in 1945, from Sovietization onwards until independence was regained in 1991. The Baltic states were occupied and annexed, becoming the Soviet socialist republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. After their annexation by Nazi Germany, the USSR reoccupied the Baltic territories in 1944 and maintained control there until the Baltic states regained their independence nearly 50 years later in the aftermath of the Soviet coup of 1991.

Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (1940)

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.

Baltic Legations (1940–1991) missions of exiled diplomatic services from 1940 to 1991

The Baltic Legations were the missions of the exiled Baltic diplomatic services from 1940 to 1991. After the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states in 1940, the Baltic states instructed their diplomats to maintain their countries' legations in several Western capitals. Members of the Estonian diplomatic service, the Latvian diplomatic service and the Lithuanian diplomatic service continued to be recognised as the diplomatic representatives of the independent pre-World War II states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, whose annexation by the Soviet Union was not recognised by the United States, the United Kingdom, or France. The legations provided consular services to exiled citizens of the Baltic states from 1940 to 1991.

Parliamentary elections were held in Estonia on 14 and 15 July 1940 alongside simultaneous elections in Latvia and Lithuania. The elections followed the Soviet occupation of the three countries, and were rigged. The Estonian Working People's Union, a Communist front group, was the only party allowed to run, and won all 80 seats with 92.8% of the vote. The newly elected People's Parliament declared the Estonian SSR on 21 July and requested admission to the Soviet Union the following day. The request was approved by the Soviet government on 6 August.

1940 Latvian parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in Latvia on 14 and 15 July 1940, alongside simultaneous similarly undemocratic and anticonstitutional elections in Estonia and Lithuania, following the Soviet occupation of the three countries. The Communist Party of Latvia was legalised and renamed the "Working People's Bloc" (Darba ļaužu bloks). It was the sole permitted participant in the election, as an attempt to include the Democratic Bloc on the ballot was suppressed, and the main figures of the bloc either arrested and deported or shot shortly after, while a few managed to escape the repression by fleeing from the country.

Latvia–Taiwan relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Latvia and Taiwan

Sino-Latvian relations date back to August 16, 1923 when the Republic of China recognized Latvia de jure. After the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940, the ROC is one of the few countries that did not recognize Latvia's incorporation into the Soviet Union.

References

Citations
  1. O'Connor, Kevin (2003). The history of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 117. ISBN   0-313-32355-0.
  2. 1 2 Misiunas & Taagepera 1993 , p. 20
  3. in addition to the envoys accredited in Baltic countries, Soviet government sent the following special emissaries: to Lithuania: Deputy Commissar of Foreign Affairs Dekanozov; to Latvia: Vishinski, the representative of the Council of Ministers; to Estonia: Regional Party Leader of Leningrad Zhdanov. "Analytical list of documents, V. Friction in the Baltic States and Balkans, June 4, 1940 – September 21, 1940". Telegram of German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office. Retrieved 2007-03-03.
  4. 1 2 Misiunas & Taagepera 1993 , p. 23
  5. Misiunas & Taagepera 1993 , p. 24
  6. 1 2 Misiunas & Taagepera 1993 , p. 25
  7. 1 2 Misiunas & Taagepera 1993 , pp. 26–7
  8. 1 2 Attitudes of the Major Soviet Nationalities, Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973
  9. Mangulis, Visvaldis (1983). "VIII. September 1939 to June 1941". Latvia in the Wars of the 20th century . Princeton Junction: Cognition Books. ISBN   0-912881-00-3.
  10. 1 2 Švābe, Arvīds. The Story of Latvia. Latvian National Foundation. Stockholm. 1949.
  11. Justice in The Baltic at Time magazine on Monday, Aug. 19, 1940
  12. 1 2 3 4 Stephane Courtois; Werth, Nicolas; Panne, Jean-Louis; Paczkowski, Andrzej; Bartosek, Karel; Margolin, Jean-Louis & Kramer, Mark (1999). The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Harvard University Press. ISBN   0-674-07608-7.
  13. 1 2 3 Buttar, Prit. Between Giants. ISBN   978 1 78096 163 7.
  14. Dunsdorfs, Edgars. The Baltic Dilemma. Speller & Sons, New York. 1975
  15. Küng, Andres. Communism and Crimes against Humanity in the Baltic States. 1999 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2001-03-01. Retrieved 2018-05-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (1986)
  17. 1 2 3 O'Connor 2003 , p. 117
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 O'Connor 2003 , p. 118
  19. see, for instance, "Concurrent Resolution of the House and Senate: H. CON. RES. 128" (PDF). July 25, 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-09. [e]xpressing the sense of Congress that the Government of the Russian Federation should issue a clear and unambiguous statement of admission and condemnation of the illegal occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  20. Then acting U.S. Secretary of State, Sumner Wells, described Soviet activities in the Baltic states as: "the devious process where under the political independence and territorial integrity of the three small Baltic republics - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - were to be deliberately annihilated by one of their more powerful neighbors."
  21. Dehousse, Renaud (1993). "The International Practice of the European Communities: Current Survey". European Journal of International Law. 4 (1): 141. Archived from the original on 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  22. European Parliament (January 13, 1983). "Resolution on the situation in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania". Official Journal of the European Communities. C. 42/78."whereas the Soviet annexations of the three Baltic States still has not been formally recognized by most European States and the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Vatican still adhere to the concept of the Baltic States".
  23. Van Elsuwege, P. (2003). "State Continuity and its Consequences: The Case of the Baltic States". Leiden Journal of International Law. 16 (2): 377–388. doi:10.1017/S0922156503001195.
  24. Malksoo, Lauri; Williams, Paul R.; Mälksoo, Lauri; Malksoo, Lauri (2005). "Illegal Annexation and State Continuity: The Case of the Incorporation of the Baltic States by the USSR". The American Journal of International Law. American Society of International Law. 99 (3): 734–736. doi:10.2307/1602324. JSTOR   1602324.
  25. Juda, Lawrence (1975). "United States' nonrecognition of the Soviet Union's annexation of the Baltic States: Politics and law". Journal of Baltic Studies . 6 (4): 272–290. doi:10.1080/01629777500000301.
  26. Д. Муриев, Описание подготовки и проведения балтийской операции 1944 года, Военно-исторический журнал, сентябрь 1984. Translation available, D. Muriyev, Preparations, Conduct of 1944 Baltic Operation Described, Military History Journal (USSR Report, Military affairs), 1984-9, pp. 22-28
  27. 1 2 3 Background Note: Latvia at US Department of State
Bibliography