Latvian National Foundation, second edition, 1982

Historical Introduction

Part 5"Enemies of the People" Tortured and Mutilated By the NKVD, Deportations

The Cheka's successor, the NKVD, continues to operate without regard to the law This, however, was only the facade of the Soviet State, painted in bright colours to catch the eyes of the onlookers from the western world. In fact, the Cheka, NKVD-or-NKGB, became the actual ruler of the occupied countries, superior to all other branches of Government, Party and the Red Army. This institution had laws of its own and methods, elaborated during a 30 years' practice which no Constitution of Stalin's ever mentioned anywhere. Thus, for example, in its Order dated April 25, 1941, under No.0023, the Lithuanian NKGB advises all its district branches: "The existence of a large contingent of persons, subject to operative accounting under Order No. 001223 of the NKVD of the USSR, dated October 11, 1939, regardless of concrete data concerning their anti-Soviet activities, obligates the NKGB at the present time to specify separately in its accounting work and screening of the counter-revolutionary and hostile elements, the categories of particularly dangerous persons, whose accounting must be organized in first priority order and within the shortest time possible."
  This group of particularly dangerous individuals comprised the leaders of the former political parties of the Baltic States, the chairman of the parliaments, heads of police, commanding officers of the army and the Home Guard and other leading persons who had held administrative key positions during the period of independence and who still enjoyed the loyalty of their adherents and former subordinates. According to the Order No. 001223, these persons had to be eliminated without noise and panic, so as not to permit any demonstrations and other excesses by a certain part of the surrounding population inimically inclined toward the Soviet administration. All arrests took place by night or late in the evening. The arrested were removed to the NKVD where they were made to fill in questionnaires, containing innumerable questions, with the view of recording their social origin, education and activity before the occupation.
  Then followed the interrogation which was combined with psychical [i.e., mental] and physical torture.
June, 1941
Red Army retreats, the NKVD leaves its sickening tracks
When, in June 1941, the Red Army retreated from the Baltic area, on the premises of the NKGB were found a variety of instruments which were used for extorting confessions from the prisoners. Without enumerating all the devilish devices of torturing, let us mention the ordinary equipment of the working cabinet for interrogation of the NKVD, or NKGB: instruments to break the bones of shins and arms, to squeeze testicles, to pierce the soles of feet and to pull off nails and skin from hands, to squeeze the main nose ligament until the victim bleeds profusely, electrical appliances, etc. The corpses which were left in the courtyards of the NKVD prison and exhumed from mass-graves show that before being shot the "enemies of the people" were mutilated to an extent which in many cases made it quite impossible for relatives to identify the NKVD victims. As a matter of course, the interrogation and sentencing were not carried out publicly, but in great secrecy by special NKGB tribunals.
  Among the papers of the NKGB, there have survived several lists, bearing the signature of Shustin, Commissar of State Security of the LSSR, on death sentences passed in Riga. These lists usually end with a resolution which reads as follows: "Considering the social danger they represent, all must be shot." On some of these lists, in special columns, the crimes of the condemned have been formulated in a few words, as, for instance: "Did not join singing the Internationale on the 1st of May; has fought in the Latvian Army against the bolsheviks; member of a student fraternity; former policeman; descendant of a kulak; awarded the Order of Lacplesis (Bear-killer); formerly adjutant of the State President; exploited man-power other than his own, etc."
  The registration, carried out by the Latvian Red Cross in the summer of 1942, evinced that during the first Russian occupation of Latvia no less than 7,161 political criminals were in prison, amongst them 404 women and 17 children and 179 old people over 60 years of age. Actually, the number of prisoners was by far larger, because many prisoners were reported as missing. Of these prisoners 979 were killed, the rest sentenced and deported to forced labour camps in Russia. The deportation of smaller groups began as early as towards the end of 1940, while the first larger transport of prisoners left for the autonomous republic of Komi on April 25, 1941. Others followed until June 24, with different polar regions as destination. During the whole period of Latvia's independence the total number of political prisoners did not exceed 300 to 400 and of these, as a matter of course, no one was ever sentenced to death, capital punishment being abolished in Latvia.
June 13,14, 1941
Mass deportations to Siberia...
The large deportation scheme, carried out in all three Baltic countries on the night from June 13 to June 14, 1941, had a purely administrative character and had been carefully prepared during the whole previous year according to Serov's Order No. 001223 already mentioned before. This measure was conceived not for the liquidation of individual leading persons, but with the view of exterminating a whole class, the so-called "bourgeoisie". Several days before it was implemented, all available lorries were mobilized and ordered to wait at the police, NKVD and party offices. Before this scheme was put into effect the drivers, among themselves, had already been hinting that a "hunt for the bourgeois" was under preparation. These lorries, manned with armed chekists, militia-men and members of the Communist party who were provided with special lists approved in Moscow, raided, in the dead of night, town flats and country farms, carrying out domiciliary searches, reading their warrants of deportation and telling the people to be ready for departure in an hour's time or even less. According to the instructions, the deportees from the towns were allowed to take with them their belongings not exceeding 100 kg in weight (all personal cash, a whole family's food ration for a month, cooking appliances, footwear, clothes and linen). In the country, people could also take some working tools (axes, saws) with them. If, during the search, arms, foreign currency or counter-revolutionary literature were found, a report was drawn up. Persons to be arrested who offered armed resistance, were separated from the rest and handed over to the NKVD. After these formalities were settled the arrested families were taken to railway stations where trains, composed of goods-vans with grated window-openings and - as the only convenience - a hole sawn in the floor of the van, were already waiting.
...and the forcible separation of deported families While preparing for departure, the families of the deportees were made to believe that they would be all sent together to one place. However, this was a cunning trick, because Order No. 001223 provided that "In view of the fact that a large number of deportees must be arrested and distributed in special camps and that their families must proceed to special settlements in distant regions, it is essential that the operation of removal of both the members of the deportee's family and its head shall be carried out simultaneously, without notifying them of the separation confronting them. . . The convoy of the entire family to the station shall be effected in one vehicle and only at the station of departure shall the head of the family be placed separately from his family in a car specially intended for heads of families." These trains were escorted by a NKVD officer, specially appointed for this task, and by a military convoy. Since the deportation took place in the hottest season, deportees in the crammed wagons suffered horribly from thirst and diseases caused by the unsanitary conditions on the trains.
...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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