The psychobabbling food-loving seamstress.

The Baltic State’s 1939 – 1991

Posted in Uncategorized by Ambs on December 8, 2009

So… Anyone who knows me well enough by now, would know how badly I want to make my way to Latvia and Estonia.  Mostly for the fact that it is where my family heritage lies.  My Nanna and Grandad were Estonian and Latvian respectively, and were forced out of their countries during the second world war.
Unfortunately I never really got to speak to my Nanna about what she saw during the war.  I do know that by the end of the war she new how to speak, Estonian, Latvian, German, Russian and English.  That she spent a majority of the war in “labour camps” throughout Estonia, Latvia, Russia, and finally in Germany, after being captured in a forest, where her father was trying to hide her (it was the last time she saw her father).  She met my Grandfather in either one of those camps or in a Refugee camp (I think it may have been the latter).  I remember it being described to me that she saw him from afar and knew she liked him (sounds like I may have picked up her romanticized view of the world!).   My grandfather on the other hand was a part of the Latvian Army, fighting off the Soviets (who illegally invaded Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania after the German/Russian non-aggression pact was signed).  I vaguely remember a story being told by my grandfather about walking for twelve days and eating rations, they saw no one, and then they were captured (I think?  Mum?  Tonia?).  Nanna was about 18 or 19, and I’m not sure how old Grandad was, I think he was about 20 or 21.

I have been messaging a friend and asking her about her experiences in Bosnia during the Bosnian/Seb War. Also profusely apologising for not actually understanding what she was going through when we were younger.  I used to live in my own little world (sometimes I still do!).
Anyhow, countering this, she admitted to not knowing abut the Human Rights violations by the Russians in the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), during their occupation from 1939 – 1991.

I’m trying to be as accurate as I can, but I’m sure I’ll miss a fair amount of information.

Such was the instability at the time, The Baltic States were invaded by the Soviets Twice and the Nazis once.

The first Soviet Occupation lasted from 1940-1941.  From the giving of orders to the all out invasion, it took about 6 days for The Soviets to take control of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  They had annexed them from the rest of the world.   From what I can gather, many people were caught and deported under The Serov Instructions, which detailed the procedures and protocols  in which to deport non-Soviet Nationals.  Most non-Soviet nationals were deported to Siberia, many of them lost their lives in inhumane conditions.
So, when the Nazi’s invaded The Soviet Union in 1941….
….the Nazi’s invaded from Poland, the people were over-joyed as they thought they were being liberated from Russian Rule, unfortunately not.  The German’s policy was harsh, and deported thousands of Jews (along with Estonian’s(apparently conceived as the most Aryan of the three states), Latvians and Lithuanians) to labour and death camps.  Lithuania was one of the most heavily hit area’s by the Nazi’s.  With the Nazi invasion of Poland the Jewish population in Lithuania grew from 160,000 to 250,000.  By the end of the Nazi occupation in 1944, 95 – 97% of the Jewish Population had been killed.  It was the highest Genocide rate in Europe.
IN 1944, as it was becoming more apparent that The Germans were going to be defeated, The Latvians joined the Germans to fight off the invading Soviets, the Estonians went to help the Finnish, and The Lithuanians joined the Germans as well.  They thought this would help them with their call for independence as states.  The Soviets invaded in 1944, and stayed in power until 1991, after the wall fell in 1989.

In this very dark period of Baltic history, the Soviets used threats of violence, mass deportations and torture to bring the Baltic states into alignment with their views.  A perfect description of what happened in rural Estonia is written about here.
Russification had taken full hold by now:
The Learned Estonian Society, the Tartu Art Institute, and the Estonian State Theatre Institute were closed down, and scientists and university lecturers were dismissed from their posts. Books were burnt, monuments demolished and cemeteries ravaged; a total ideological control was set up to keep an eye on the entire intellectual life of the country. Intellectuals were made to serve Stalinist propaganda: to produce songs, works of art and plays extolling the virtues of the Stalinist regime. In the course of this ‘cultural revolution’, the occupation powers tried to root out everything that reminded people of independent Estonia; even the traditional administrative system was changed”, quote from Estonica.

During The Soviet annexation and occupation from 1944 to 1991, The Soviets bought in any measures they could to keep the people in line.
According to Article 58 of the 1926 Criminal Code of Soviet Russia, anyone could be accused of anti-Soviet activities, counter revolutionary crimes or of being  disloyal to the Soviet regime.  Article 58 was applied retroactively to include crimes committed before Soviet rule was established.
More details descriptions of crimes of deportation, death and torture can be found on The Three Occupations of Latvia.

More coming soon, I need to actually get some sleep this evening!

Amendment:  After thinking and looking back over the stories that I have listened to through my family, I have amended about when my Grandparents were captured.  Knowing that Nanna was about 19 when she was captured and taken away.  Granddad was about 21, and that they both ended up in Germany, and from both descriptions, Germany was coming from one direction, and Russia from the other.  I would not be surprised if they were captured when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.