"Deportation of 14 June 1941: Crimes against Humanity"
Riga, Latvia, 12-13 June 2001
CONCLUSIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
Twenty-nine presenters - historians, lawyers and other scholars, as well as eyewitnesses to the events from Latvia and nine other countries (Estonia, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, and U.S.A.) gave papers at the conference. They analysed various aspects of the 14 June 1941 mass deportation in Latvia, as well as similar deportations from other Baltic and East European countries occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union. The papers concentrated on the preparation and implementation of the deportations as well as their consequences. The main emphasis was placed on legal, social, ethnic, demographic and geographic aspects of the deportations, as well as on source studies and new research areas.
THE MAIN CONCLUSIONS
- The mass deportation of 14 June 1941 in Latvia, as well as other mass deportations in the occupied Baltic states and other areas incorporated by the Soviet Union, was carried out at the orders and under the leadership of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the ruling party of the USSR - the All-Union Communist (Bolshevik) Party - and the highest levels of the government of the USSR. They are to be considered as an integral part of the official policy of intimidation and terror practiced by the totalitarian Communist regime of the imperial state.
- The deportation of 14 June 1941 was prepared and carried out by the repressive institutions of the USSR: the Peoples Commissariat of State Security and the Peoples Commissariat of the Interior along with their special services in collaboration with institutions of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist (Bolshevik) Party, state administrative institutions, and local collaborators.
- The deportation was mainly directed against persons who, according to formal criteria, had been a priori considered to be unreliable or dangerous to the totalitarian Communist regime: because of their previous position, activities, or their social and economic status, i.e. the political, economic, social, and cultural elites. Their families were deported as well, regardless of their age or gender: among the 15,424 deported on 14 June 1941 46.5% were women, and 10% children below 10.
- The deportation was prepared and carried out by functionaries of varied ethnic origin or nationality; no specific ethnic or national group can be held responsible for the deportation. The 14 June 1941 deportation was directed at the entire ethnically diverse population of Latvia. The brunt of the deportation was borne by the ethnic Latvians, who accounted for more than 81% of the deportees (their percentage in the population was ca. 75). The group with the highest percentage of deportees among their population, however, was the Jews: almost 2% of the Latvian Jews were deported.
- The 14 June 1941 deportation had tragic consequences that have been hard to eradicate. Of each 10 deportees four perished in prisons, hard labour camps or in their places of banishment. Many contracted long-term diseases that were hard to treat. Latvian demographers have calculated the total loss of vitality resulting from the deportation as almost one million human years. Persons who were allowed to return were discriminated against for many years. Confiscated property was not returned. Some of the deportees have not retrieved it up to the present day.
OTHER CONCLUSIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
The conference recognized the fact that the totalitarian National Socialist regime demagogically used the deportations, which occurred shortly before the beginning of the German-USSR war, to promote and justify their own criminal policies in Eastern European states and territories, especially the Holocaust.
The conference concluded that, in the course of investigating the 14 June 1941 deportation, Latvian scholars have contributed several new additions to scholarly knowledge: (1) a detailed structural analysis of the deportation in Latvia; (2) a quantitative analysis of the action in local administrative units; (3) the determination of the routing of the deportees and study of related documentation of the repressive institutions; (4) progress toward investigating historical structural social changes in urban and rural areas caused by the deportation. Scholars from the Baltic and other countries analysed in their papers the reasons and the objectives of the deportations; the terror mechanisms of the totalitarian Communist regime; and various aspects of collaboration in their countries. The comparative typological analysis of the deportations was an essential contribution of the conference. It enabled comparisons of the similarities and differences among the 1941 deportations in various countries as well as among deportations in different years.
The participants of the conference urged continued research and development of concrete research programs on Soviet deportations in the context of the repressive politics practiced by the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Scholarly articles about the deportations must be published in foreign scholarly publications, and information must be made available to international audiences. It was emphasized that there is need to ensure genuine equal scholarly rights and opportunities to access and use documents relating to the development of repressive policies and the functioning of repressive institutions in the archives in Russia and other countries. The desirability of continued exchange of scholarly opinions on this topic in international conferences, in joint document collections, monographs, and other publications was stressed.
The conference also stressed the necessity of continuing the collection of information about the fate of the deportees. Deportations must be taught in schools; teaching materials depicting the inhuman nature of the deportations and the criminal nature of the totalitarian Communist regime must be prepared.
The participants of the conference expressed the opinion that in a democratic society real social integration cannot be achieved by suppressing, selectively presenting or one-sidedly portraying the past, but rather by activating extensive and thorough discussions about these questions as a means of fostering the development of a broad social consensus. At the same time, the conference participants categorically rejected direct or indirect justifications of the policies practiced by the totalitarian regimes as uncritical, unproductive, and amoral. Such justifications are dangerous to democracy, the rights of individuals and nations, and they prepare the soil for the regeneration of totalitarianism in the same or derivative form.
In the course of investigating the archival material concerning the deportations the conclusion has been reached that actions in their places of imprisonment and forced banishment taken against persons deported from Latvia without proper adjudication doubtless correspond to the characteristics of genocide stated in Article 2 of the 9 December 1949 United Nations "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" (which Latvia has acceded to): killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, etc. Dissenting opinions in this regard expressed during the conference, however, indicate the need for further research concerning the nature of the policies carried out against the people of Latvia by the Communist regime and their correspondence to the UN Genocide Convention.
In this connection, and especially in regard to the 4 May 1990 "Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia", which declared the intention to acknowledge the primacy of basic principles of international law over state law, the conference asks the Saeima (Parliament) of the Republic of Latvia to constitute forthwith a commission consisting of competent specialists - lawyers and historians - charged with evaluating the 14 June 1941 deportation in point of international law.
The conference condemns the totalitarian Communist regime as criminal and declares that restoration of the state Communist Party, which was the creator and organizer of this regime, is inadmissible in a democratic society.