Timeline of the occupation of the Baltic states

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The timeline of the occupation of the Baltic states lists key events in the military occupation of the three countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – by the Soviet Union and by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Contents

1939

1940

1941

1942

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic</span> Constituent republic of the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1941 and 1944 to 1990

The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Lithuania or simply Lithuania, was de facto one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union between 1940–1941 and 1944–1990. After 1946, its territory and borders mirrored those of today's Republic of Lithuania, with the exception of minor adjustments of the border with Belarus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Occupation of the Baltic states</span> 1940–91 Soviet occupation of the Baltic states

The three independent Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – were invaded and occupied in June 1940 by the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Stalin and auspices of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact that had been signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in August 1939, immediately before the outbreak of World War II. The three countries were then annexed into the Soviet Union in August 1940. The United States and most other Western countries never recognised this incorporation, considering it illegal. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antanas Merkys</span>

Antanas Merkys was the last Prime Minister of independent Lithuania, serving from November 1939 to June 1940. When the Soviet Union presented an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding that it accept a Soviet garrison, President Antanas Smetona fled the country leaving Merkys as acting president. Merkys ostensibly cooperated with the Soviets, and illegally took over the presidency in his own right. After three days, Merkys handed power to Justas Paleckis, who formed the People's Government of Lithuania. When Merkys attempted to flee the country, he was captured and deported to the interior of Russia, where he died in 1955.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military history of Latvia during World War II</span>

After the occupation of Latvia by the USSR in June 1940, much of the previous Latvian army was disbanded and many of its soldiers and officers were arrested and imprisoned or executed. The following year Nazi Germany occupied Latvia during the offensive of Army Group North. The German Einsatzgruppen were aided by a group known as Arajs Kommando in the killing of Latvian Jews as part of the Holocaust. Latvian soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict against their will, and in 1943 180,000 Latvian men were drafted into the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS and other German auxiliary forces.

The People's Seimas was a puppet legislature organized in order to give legal sanction the occupation and annexation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union. After the Soviet ultimatum in June 1940, a new pro-Soviet government was formed, known as the People's Government. The new government dismissed the Fourth Seimas and announced elections to the People's Seimas. The elections were heavily rigged, and resulted in a chamber composed entirely of Communists and Communist sympathizers. The new parliament unanimously adopted a resolution proclaiming the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and petitioned for admission to the Soviet Union as a constituent republic. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR accepted the Lithuanian petition on August 3, 1940. The People's Seimas adopted a new constitution, a close copy of the 1936 Soviet Constitution, on August 25 and renamed itself to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stasys Raštikis</span> Lithuanian general (1896–1985)

Stasys Raštikis was a Lithuanian military officer, ultimately obtaining the rank of divisional general. He was the commander of the Lithuanian Army from September 21, 1934, to April 23, 1940.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania</span> 1990 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union by Lithuania

The Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania or Act of March 11 was an independence declaration by Lithuania 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 Soviet Union and annexed in June 1940. In March, 1990, it was the first of the 15 Soviet republics to declare independence, with the rest following suit over the ensuing twenty-one months, concluding with Kazakhstan's independence in 1991. These events led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">State continuity of the Baltic states</span> Legal continuity of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

The three Baltic countries, or the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – are held to have continued as legal entities under international law while under the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1991, as well as during the German occupation in 1941–1944/1945. 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 three Baltic countries in particular.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">German–Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty</span> 1939 secret addition to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

The German–Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty was a second supplementary protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939. It was a secret clause as amended on 28 September 1939 by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union after their joint invasion and occupation of sovereign Poland. It was signed by Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, the foreign ministers of Germany and the Soviet Union respectively, in the presence of Joseph Stalin. Only a small portion of the protocol, which superseded the first treaty, was publicly announced, while the spheres of influence of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union remained secret. The third secret protocol of the Pact was signed on 10 January 1941 by Friedrich Werner von Schulenburg and Molotov, wherein Germany renounced its claims to portions of Lithuania, only a few months before their anti-Soviet Operation Barbarossa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty</span> 1939 treaty allowing Soviet troops and military bases within Lithuania

The Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty was a bilateral treaty signed between the Soviet Union and Lithuania on October 10, 1939. According to provisions outlined in the treaty, Lithuania would acquire about one fifth of the Vilnius Region, including Lithuania's historical capital, Vilnius, and in exchange would allow five Soviet military bases with 20,000 troops to be established across Lithuania. In essence the treaty with Lithuania was very similar to the treaties that the Soviet Union signed with Estonia on September 28, and with Latvia on October 5. According to official Soviet sources, the Soviet military was strengthening the defenses of a weak nation against possible attacks by Nazi Germany. The treaty provided that Lithuania's sovereignty would not be affected. However, in reality the treaty opened the door for the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania and was described by The New York Times as "virtual sacrifice of independence."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet ultimatum to Lithuania</span> 1940 demand of the Soviet Union

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kazys Skučas</span> Lithuanian politician and general

Kazys Skučas was a Lithuanian politician and General of the Lithuanian Army. Skučas was the last Minister of the Interior of independent Lithuania. He was a target of anti-Lithuanian Soviet propaganda in the days leading to the 1940 Soviet ultimatum and occupation of Lithuania. Right after the Red Army invaded Lithuania on 15 June 1940, Skučas was directed to leave the country by the then-President Antanas Smetona but was arrested at the border several days later by the then acting Lithuanian President Antanas Merkys and handed over to the Russians, transported to Moscow, and executed in 1941.

The timeline of the Winter War is a chronology of events leading up to, culminating in, and resulting from the Winter War. The war began when the Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939 and it ended 13 March 1940.

The People's Government of Lithuania was a puppet cabinet installed by the Soviet Union in Lithuania immediately after Lithuania's acceptance of the Soviet ultimatum of June 14, 1940. The formation of the cabinet was supervised by Vladimir Dekanozov, deputy of Vyacheslav Molotov and a close associate of Lavrentiy Beria, who selected Justas Paleckis as the prime minister and acting president. The government was formed on June 17 and, together with the People's Seimas (parliament), transitioned independent Lithuania to a socialist republic and the 14th republic of the Soviet Union thus legitimizing the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. The People's Government was replaced by the Council of People's Commissars of the Lithuanian SSR on August 25. Similar transitional People's Governments were formed in Latvia and Estonia.

The timeline of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is a chronology of events, including Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact negotiations, leading up to, culminating in, and resulting from the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The Treaty of Non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was signed in the early hours of 24 August 1939, but was dated 23 August.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Background of the occupation of the Baltic states</span>

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. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia gained independence in the aftermath of the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the German occupation which in the Baltic countries lasted until the end of World War I in November 1918. All three countries signed non-aggression treaties with the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. Despite the treaties, in the aftermath of the 1939 German–Soviet pact, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were occupied, and thereafter forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, in 1940.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (1940)</span> Forced annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the USSR (1939–41)

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet–Estonian Mutual Assistance Treaty</span> 1939 treaty allowing Soviet troops and military bases within Estonia

The Soviet–Estonian Mutual Assistance Treaty, also known as the Bases Treaty was a bilateral treaty between the Soviet Union and Estonia, 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Soviet–Latvian Mutual Assistance Treaty</span> 1939 treaty allowing Soviet troops and military bases within Latvia

The Soviet–Latvian Mutual Assistance Treaty was a bilateral treaty between the Soviet Union and Latvia, 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 the country in June 1940.

References

  1. Michael L. Dockrill, B. J. C. McKercher, Diplomacy and World Power: Studies in British Foreign Policy, 1890-1950, Cambridge University Press 1996, p226