THE TRAGEDY OF 1940
The bad example of the governing
methods of the U.S.S.R. created similar totalitarian regimes in Italy, Germany
and Japan. That in turn unleashed the Second World War.
By skilful manuvering the
U.S.S.R. made use of this unique opportunity to take up', at the end of this
war, advantageous strategic positions for a third World War and World
In this programme, the occupation
of the Baltic States and the Partition of Poland was axiomatic and Hitler gave
his sanction to it by the secret agreements of the so-called Ribbentrop-Molotov
Pact of August 23rd, 1939. That is why already in September, 1939, the
operational maps of the Russian General Staff showed the Baltic States as the
Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Soviet Republics.
This programme was carried out
gradually, so as to act for the Anglo-Saxon Allies the part of the noble
"liberator" of the Baltic States. With the so-called Mutual Assistance Pacts
dictated by Moscow and forced on the Baltic States already in September and
October, 1939. Russia obtained military and naval bases in all the important
ports of the Baltic States, in the islands and straits. Thereby the Baltic
States had already lost their freedom of action and sovereignty so frequently
guaranteed to them by Russia in words.
Latvia had no disputes with her
powerful eastern neighbour, the U.S.S.R. Their boundaries were mapped out at
the very beginning of Latvia's independence in a way acceptable to both
TRADE CONCESSIONS TO RUSSIA.
Trade agreements had been
concluded between Latvia and the U.S.S.R., according to which Russia received
very far-reaching concessions on Latvian railways and in Latvian ports. All
Latvian trade agreements contained a Russian clause which recognised Russia
special rights and privileges which did not apply to other countries. In fact,
Latvian terms were so generous that, purely commercially speaking, it was more
advantageous to Russia to send goods to Latvian ports than to use her
own. It was no fault of Latvia that Soviet Russia's transit traffic through the
Baltic States had fallen from 720,000 tons (Estonia 345,788, Latvia 374,885) in
1922 to 80,000 tons in 1938. Methods of economic boycott were used by Soviet
Russia quite continually, in order to create internal difficulties in the
Baltic States and to prepare the ground for the activities of the Russian fifth
In her foreign policy, Latvia
followed the principles of strict neutrality and close cultural and economic
collaboration with her sister republics of Estonia and Lithuania. Her relations
with Soviet Russia were regulated by at least 32 treaties and agreements.
Besides the trade agreements, and the Peace Treaty of 1920, signed in Riga,
which formed the basis of Latvian-Russian relations and according to which
Russia solemnly relinquished all her former rights over Latvian territory and
people for ever, the following may be mentioned:
- The so-called Litvinoff Protocol, signed at Moscow
on February 9th, 1929, under which the anti-war Pact of Paris, known under the
name of the Briand-Kellog Pact, came into force for Eastern Europe.
According to this protocol the U.S.S.R. was obliged vis-a-vis Latvia to
settle any dispute by peaceful means.
- The Non-Agression Treaty of February 5th, 1932,
under which the U.S.S.R. was bound to avoid any act of force and to submit all
disputes which could not be settled in a normal diplomatic way to a mixed
Conciliation Commission. This treaty was entered into for three years, but was
extended on April 4th, 1934, until December 31st, 1945.
- The Convention for the Definition of Aggression,
entered into at London on July 3rd, 1933, which lays down that the State which
first invades the territory of any other State without declaration of war is
acknowledged as Aggressor in international disputes, and no political,
military, or economic arguments can be used in exculpation of such an
- The Mutual Assistance Pact signed in Moscow on
October 5th, 1939, which authorised the U.S.S.R. to establish in Latvia
military bases, but stipulated at the same time the principle of
non-interference in the affairs of Latvian sovereignty, the political
constitution of the State, its economic or social structure, or military
AND RIBBENTROP DECIDE THE FATE OF THE BALTIC STATES.
Nevertheless, the occupation of
all three Baltic States had been decided upon already on August 23rd, 1939,
between Ribbentrop and Molotov, when a Non-Aggression Pact was signed between
Germany and the U.S.S.R. in Moscow, to which was added a secret protocol,
sanctioning the occupation of the Baltic States by the Red Army, leaving the
moment therefor to free option.
In June, 1939, the Russians, for
the purpose of obtaining better conditions from Germany, had begun negotiations
with Britain and France and proposed "Formulæ covering indirect
aggression in the Baltic States." These negotiations came to nothing, as
the Western Democracies did not give their agreement to an occupation of
the Baltic States. As a result of these bickering s with England and France,
the Russians obtained definite promises from the Germans concerning the Baltic
States. Of these, Lord Halifax could not but state: "Herr Hitler bartered what
was not his property - the liberties of the Baltic people."
It had been known for some time
that, apart from the official NonAggression Pact, Ribbentrop and Molotov
had made one or two secret agreements concerning the Baltic States and
Poland. The full details became known on May 22nd, 1946, when the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch published an article by its correspondent at Nuremberg, quoting
the complete text of two secret Soviet-Nazi agreements.
The first of these agreements is
dated Moscow, August 23rd, 1939, and consists of 4 paragraphs. It reads: "On
the occasion of the signing of the Non-Agression Treaty between the German
Reich and the U.S.S.R. the undersigned representatives of the two parties
discussed in a highly confidential conversation the problem of the
demarcation of the spheres of influence of either party in Eastern Europe. This
conversation has the following result: (1) In the case of a
politico-territorial change in the territories belonging to the Baltic
States - Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - the northern frontier of
Lithuania shall form also the demarcation of the spheres of interest
between Germany and the U.S.S.R."
The second Soviet-Nazi agreement
is dated Moscow, September 28th, 1939, and the text runs : "Par. 1 of the
secret protocol of August 23rd, 1939, is modified in that the territory of the
Lithuanian State also shall fall within the sphere of interest of the
U.S.S.R.... As soon as the Government of the U.S.S.R. shall take special
measures on Lithuanian territory for the protection of her interests, the
present German-Lithuanian frontier will be rectified in order to accomplish a
natural and simple frontier ... marked on the attached map."
Immediately after the secret
agreements or, indeed, even before they were actually concluded, the Soviet
High Command ordered military maps (scale 1: 500,000) on which the Baltic
States were marked as Soviet Socialist Republics of Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania. These maps are dated September, 1939.
The conclusion of these two secret
agreements was confirmed by Stalin on October 2nd, 1939, in the Kremlin during
his conversations with the Latvian Foreign Minister, V. Munters, when Stalin
said: "I tell you frankly, a division of spheres of interest has already taken
place. As far as Germany is concerned we could occupy you."
Knowing that he had given consent
to the occupation of the Baltic States by Russia, which he knew would soon take
place, Hitler began the repatriation of the Baltic Germans (Volksdeutsche) from
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. After protracted negotiations, an agreement was
signed between Germany and Latvia in Riga on October 30th, 1939. As a result of
this agreement, at the end of 1939 and the beginning of 1940, 49,885
German-speaking inhabitants of Latvia left the country. The total number of
Germans in Latvia had been 2.96 per cent of the population. German
propagandists were very active in persuading the German Balts, many of whom
were unwilling to "return" to the Fatherland, and openly spoke of Russians who
would come and occupy Latvia very soon. With great glee they described the
atrocities the Russians would perpetrate when they came.
With bitter irony we can now
reflect upon the prophetic foresight of these diligent servants of Goebbels.
They let their youthful fancy roam in the realm of horrors and themselves had
no idea how near the truth they had come and how near their forecasts were to
the things that were to happen. Thus two totalitarian despotisms dug the
grave of the liberty of the Baltic States.