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.
Sovietization is the adoption of a political system based on the model of soviets or the adoption of a way of life, mentality, and culture modelled after the Soviet Union. This often included adopting Cyrillic script, and sometimes also Russian language.
Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea 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 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.
Population transfer in the Soviet Union refers to forced transfer of various groups from the 1930s up to the 1950s ordered by Joseph Stalin and may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories.
The so-called Serov Instructions was an undated top secret document, signed by General Ivan Serov, Deputy People's Commissar for State Security of the Soviet Union (NKGB). The instructions detailed procedures on how to carry out the mass deportations to Siberia of June 13–14, 1941, which occurred throughout the Baltic States during the first Soviet occupation, in 1940–1941.
The local Communist parties emerged from underground with 1500 members in Lithuania, 500 in Latvia and 133 members in Estonia.
The Soviets began a constitutional metamorphosis of the Baltic states by first forming transitional "Peoples Governments."Led by Stalin’s close associates, 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.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.
In late June and early July, the cabinets announced that the Communist Parties were the only legal political parties.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. Police forces were replaced by specially recruited militias. Formed "Peoples Armies" were rapidly Sovietized in preparation for their eventual absorption into the Red Army.
The World Organization of the Scout Movement is the largest international Scouting organization. WOSM has 170 members. These members are recognized national Scout organizations, which collectively have over 50 million participants. WOSM was established in 1922, and has its operational headquarters at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and its legal seat in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the counterpart of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).
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. The former official name Red Army continued to be used as a nickname by both sides throughout the Cold War.
On July 14–15, 1940, rigged parliamentary elections for the "People's Parliaments"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. 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.
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.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.
Immediately after the elections, NKVD units under the leadership of Ivan Serov arrested more than 15,000 "hostile elements" and members of their families. 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. 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. 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. A Lithuanian government official claimed to have seen a Soviet document suggesting that 700,000 deportations were envisaged from Lithuania alone. :48Arrests and deportations began slowly, partly because of the language problems, as not enough Soviet officials were capable of reading the local language documents. :
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."
The new Soviet-installed governments in the Baltic states began to align their policies with current Soviet practices. 46According 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 reconstituted parliaments quickly proclaimed the nationalization of large industries, transportation, banks, private housing, and commerce in general. 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). 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. :
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.The Red Army quickly absorbed the military forces of the Baltic states. Soviet security forces such as the NKVD, imposed strict censorship and press control. 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.
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,in accordance with the principles of the Stimson Doctrine (Sumner Welles' Declaration of July 23, 1940 ), as well as most other Western countries 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.
Diplomatic and consular representations of the Baltic States continued to function between 1940 - 1991 in some Western countries (United States, Australia, Switzerland). –1991, i.e., until the restoration of independence of the Baltic States.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 1940
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" [ citation needed ], as well as from the British (MI6), American, and Swedish secret intelligence services.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
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.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, 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
The Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania or Act of March 11 was an independence declaration by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted on March 11, 1990, signed by all members of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania led by Sąjūdis. The act emphasized restoration and legal continuity of the interwar-period Lithuania, which was occupied by the USSR and lost independence in June 1940. It was the first time that an occupied state declared independence from the dissolving Soviet Union.
Soviet deportations from Estonia were a series of mass deportations by the Soviet Union from Estonia in 1941 and 1945–1951.
During World War II, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed several countries effectively handed over by Nazi Germany in the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. These included the eastern regions of Poland, as well as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, part of eastern Finland and eastern Romania. Apart from the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and post-war division of Germany, the 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 6 August 1940. The territory was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 and administered as a part of Reichskommissariat Ostland.
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.
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 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.
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.
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[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.