Latvian National Foundation, second edition, 1982

Historical Introduction

Part 3Soviets Invade, Install Puppet Government, Stalin Hails Himself as Liberator

October 31, 1939
USSR Supreme Council calls fears of Baltic sovietization "all nonsense"
The general tone and contents of Molotov's official declarations now underwent a marked change. If prior to the Soviet-Finnish war the Russian Foreign Commissar still hoped for a compliant attitude of Finland and, on October 31, 1939, at a meeting of the USSR Supreme Council declared that "all nonsense about sovietizing the Baltic countries is only in the interest of our common enemies and of all anti-Soviet provocateurs", he, after peace with Finland, did not hesitate to allude, in his speech of March 25, 1940, the Kremlin's intention of annexing the Baltic States. Among other things he stated that ". . . the execution of the pacts progressed satisfactorily and created conditions favourable for a further improvement of the relations between Soviet Russia and these States."
Molotov was right. In the few months, during which the land, air and naval forces of the Red Army had Installed themselves in their new bases in Latvia, circumstances took a favourable turn for the realization of the further plans of the Kremlin. The ports of Liepaja and Ventspils were in the hands of the Soviets. The outlet of the Gulf of Riga was within the compass of their long-range guns at Pitrags. Each Russian military unit in Latvia had a NKVD section attached to it which was taking up contact with the illegal communist party in the country and beginning to put into effect the Serov Instruction No. 001223. With a view to extending the net of agents, USSR requested and received permission for the admission to Latvia of 300 "technicians", allegedly for construction work of the Soviet bases. No doubts ever existed about the real nature of these men.
Immediately after Molotov's above-mentioned speech, the Soviet press started attacks, in March and April, on the Latvian Government and there appeared floods of proclamations inviting to overthrow the Government. The next phase was marked by a series of strikes in Riga and Liepaja, inspired by the NKVD, which however failed to develop into a general strike. Thereupon the Soviet Legation officially rebuked the "irresponsible element which spoils the good neighbourly relations".
May-June, 1940
Stalin/Molotov concoct and provoke incidents which they use to justify Baltic invasion under "mutual assistance pact"
However, seeing the successful advance of the German army in Belgium and France where it moved from victory to victory, Stalin decided to wait no longer and to show his hand. On May 28, 1940, the Lithuanian Minister in Moscow received a note from Molotov which dealt with the alleged kidnapping of two Soviet soldiers in Vilna. Referring to its pacts, the Lithuanian Government suggested to clear up this matter by a mixed Soviet-Lithuanian commission. Moscow rejected this proposal and, on the day after the fall of Paris, on June 14 delivered an ultimatum to Lithuania, in which the Baltic States were accused of conspiracy against the USSR. As early as June 15, the Red Army occupied Lithuania, and shot, on the same day, some Latvian frontier guards in order to provoke an incident.
June 16, 1940
Estonia and Latvia receive ultimatums and capitulate
On June 16, similar ultimata, demanding the establishment of Soviet-approved governments and the right of passage for troops from the USSR, were received by Latvia and Estonia. The answer had to be given within six hours. These ultimata were an act of brutal violation, being an infringement of the stipulations of the mutual assistance pact and non-aggression treaties. However, being aware of their complete isolation and inability to fight against the predominance of the Red Army, both Latvia and Estonia accepted the dictation of the Kremlin.
June 17, 1940
Red Army invades Latvia
What followed was a political farce staged by Moscow. On June 17, motorized units of the Red Army invaded Latvian territory, coming from the east and south (Lithuania), occupied bridges, post, telegraph and broadcasting offices. Not provided for in the ultimatum was the arrival, in Riga, of Deputy Commissar Vishinski who introduced himself to State President Ulmanis as a special envoy of the Soviet Government. On June 19, he once more called on the President, handing over an enumeration of the members of the new Cabinet which, he assured, had been approved by Moscow and which was unalterable. Actually, this list had been drawn up by Vetrov, second secretary at the Soviet Legation in Riga, who was Vishinski's political advisor.
To conceal for a while the true designs, the new "People's Government" consisted of politically naive and insignificant pressmen, with A. Kirchensteins, an ambitious veterinary surgeon and professor of microbiology, who had for several years been in Vetrov's "influence sphere", as Premier.
June 20, 1940
Kremlin installs puppet government in Latvia, Stalin honors himself as liberator
July 1940
Opposition candidates deported to Russia
When the new pro-Soviet Government took over office on June 20, "processions of thanksgiving" were organized in honour of Stalin, the "liberator", and the "victims of the plutocrats terror" - members of the illegal communist party, arrested for subversive activity - were released from prison. They totalled in Latvia to some 300. On July 5 a decree was issued, announcing new parliament elections according to the Latvian Constitution of 1922 which provided that every 100 voters could put up a list of their candidates. In order to participate in the elections with a list of their own, the Latvian democratic parties joined into the block of the National Committee, worked out their programme and duly informed Vishinski about it. But already on July 9, by order of V. Lacis, Minister of Internal Affairs, the electoral board of the National Committee was closed by the police while its most conspicuous candidates were arrested and deported to Russia.
July 14-15 1940
Elections staged and rigged
Moscow had decided that the election of the puppet parliament, in all three Baltic States should take place simultaneously, on July 14-15, 1940, and with only one, the "Working People's Union's" list, approved Moscow. There were only bolsheviks and their left fellow-travellers on that list. Although a considerable number of Baltic citizens boycotted the elections by abstaining from voting or dropping invalidated voting cards at the polls, the TASS news agency announced that in each of the three republics 95-97% of the electorates had voted.
  According to documents and the material of the electoral commissions, found after the Red Army was repulsed, the outcome of the voting proved to be a simple falsification by the Moscow emissaries. Also Paleckis, President of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, made the statement at a secret meeting that only 16 to 18 percent of valid voting cards were submitted at the polls.
  One proof of the staging by the Kremlin of the Baltic parliamentary elections and "legislative" activity is the complete synchronization of these procedures. Another is provided by the fact that the first parliamentary sessions were arranged in theatres and initiated by slogans and resolutions which were passed in chorus. Every single part, performed by the "people's representatives", was prearranged and elaborated on the programme which was worked out by the Soviet Legations and no delegate was given permission to speak outside the order laid down in advance. The votes were not scrutinized and not only did the official deputies vote, but the whole assembly, among which were a great many specially invited Soviet citizens, took part in the voting by a raising of hands. The deputies had been warned that any member withholding his vote or counter-voting would be taken charge of by the NKVD.
July 21, 1940
Latvian puppet government petitions Stalin to join the Soviet Union
The three single-list Diets had to meet on July 21 and to vote on a multitude of sovietization and nationalization decrees. Not the least modifications or amendments were allowed to be made by the three puppet parliaments. Although the new Premier Kirchensteins, the legalized central organ of the Latvian Bolshevik party "Cina" and the rest of the communist-controlled press had been unanimous in assuring during the election period that all rumours about the incorporation of Latvia were nothing but provocations and that the "People's Parliament" would strictly observe the stipulations of the pact of October 5, 1939, one of the first items of the "Saeima's" agenda, much to the surprise of the voters, was the proclamation of the Latvian Soviet Republic and the "unanimous" resolution of the assembly to beg Stalin to include Latvia as a federal republic in the Soviet Union. In his raptures with these successful performances Vishinski quite forgot that according to the Latvian Constitution this question could only be decided by a referendum. Nor did the other two emissaries of the Kremlin, Zhdanov at Tallin and Dekanozov at Kaunas, keep this fact in mind either.
...Timeline...Molotov–Ribbentrop PactMolotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939. Text of the secret protocol carving up Eastern Europe between Stalin and Hitler. The First Months of the WarThe First Months of the War, Mr. Munters Speaks at the University, 1940. Foreign Minister Vilhelms Munters' speech at the University of Latvia, asking, infamously : "I should like to ask, where now is the sovietisation against which we were warned...?" Letters on Birch Bark In Siberia Written Letters on Birch Bark, UNESCO Latvia. Birch bark was often the only material to write on. Background on deportations, the letters, and a gallery of photos. EXTERNAL SITE Holocaust in Latvia (HAOLUSA.ORG) Prof. Andrew Ezergailis' web site on the Holocaust in LatviaScholarship on the Holocaust in Latvia: essays, letters, reviews. Prof. Ezergailis is the pre-eminent scholar in this field. EXTERNAL SITE Soviet War NewsThe Soviet Union, Finland, and the Baltic States. Soviet Information Bureau. Soviet War News, 1941. In a monograph published after the Winter War and toward the end of its first occupation of the Baltic states, the Soviet Union blames the Finns and Balts for their troubles, only the Soviets have consistently engaged in "neighbourly relations," rebuffed by its neighbors at every turn. A classic study in Stalinist propaganda and a version of history still familiar in official Russian rhetoric. These Names AccuseThese Names Accuse—Nominal List of Latvians Deported to Soviet Russia in 1940-41, second edition with supplementary list. Latvian National Foundation, Stockholm. 1982. (1942) History leading up to and including the Soviet invasion of the Baltics, the first Soviet occupation, and the first mass deportations of 1941. The originally compiled list of names was published in Riga in 1942. Documents, photographs, list of names (in progress). A Shepherd DiedViens Gans Nomira (A Shepherd Died). Margarita Kovaļevska, illustrator. 1942. A miniature booklet of a folk song, published by Tautas Palīdzība (Peoples' Aid) in war-time Latvia and given out for donations to help the orphaned and widowed, illustrated by a popular Latvian pre-war and diaspora artist—and who dated Peters' father while they studied together at the Academy of Art. Behind the Polish-Soviet BreakBehind the Polish-Soviet Break, Alter Brody, introduced by Corliss Lamont. Soviet Russia Today, New York. 1943. After the Poles rightfully blamed the Katyn massacre on the Soviets, the USSR denounced (per Molotov's letter, included) the accusation as a "Hitlerite slanderous fake." Within two weeks the USSR severed relations with the Polish Government-in-Exile. Beyond alleging Polish lies, Alter Brody's monograph goes on to characterize the Polish people as an ungrateful scourge upon history—portending the post-WWII portrayal of anti-Soviet Eastern European nationalists as fascists. Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943. Latvian Legation, Washington, DC. 1944. The Latvian diplomatic corps reports on Latvia's third year under Nazi occupation, recounting still-fresh events. What Latvian Wishes From This War?What Latvian Wishes From This War? Alfreds Bīlmanis. Latvian Legation, Washington DC. 1944. As head of the Latvian Foreign Ministry's press division, Alfreds Bīlmanis (1887-1948) actively promoted independent Latvia's interests abroad. His war-time monograph, subtitled: "Background, Current Situation, Hopes for the Future"—written while there was still hope for Latvia's post-war freedom—dispels still-prevalent misunderstandings regarding the historical inter-relationships of the Baltics, Europe, and Russia. Zedelgem POW Camp 2227Zedelgem POW Camp 2227Latvians whose only "crime" was to fight to free their homeland after multiple invasions are called Nazis and shot as target practice. Today, official Russia and others invested in the "Latvians are Nazis" meme keep the lie alive.
Copyright © 1982, The Latvian National Foundation. The Latvian National Foundation, Box 108, S-101 21 Stockholm, Sweden, retains all rights. Materials from "These Names Accuse" reproduced by express permission. For personal and academic research use only. Republication is prohibited.

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