Summary of Conclusions of the International Conference "Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States 1944

02.12.2014. 19:09


International Conference
"Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States 1944-1959:
Policies and their Consequences"

13 and 14 June 2002


The international conference "Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States1944-1959: Policies and their Consequences" took place in Riga, 13 and 14 June 2002. Thirty-five papers were presented by historians, law specialists, economists, demographers and other scholars from six states (Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Sweden). Conference papers analyzed the political power structure of the USSR occupation regime and various aspects of the regime-s politics and policies as applied to the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) after World War II and the consequences of these politics and policies.

The occupation regime-s structure and functioning, as well as problems concerning research methods, terminology and sources were analyzed.

The repressive economic, political, cultural, educational and religious policies of the Communist (Soviet) occupation regime in the Baltic states were addressed. Armed and unarmed resistance to the regime, as well as the attitude of exile Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians in the West toward the regime was the topic of several papers.

The presentations and discussions also pointed to future research needs and desiderata for each of the Baltic states and the Baltic region.

Main Conclusions of the Conference 

  • The victory of the anti-Nazi alliance and the defeat of Germany in World War II did not restore to the Baltic peoples the desired national independence and democracy. It brought reoccupation - the replacement of the National Socialist occupation regime with the Communist occupation regime.
  • The occupation power expropriated and denied the right to private property. Individuals were persecuted and sentenced even for having owned property. Mass deportations and such mass social experiments as collectivization were carried out.
  • The policies of the occupation power in the Baltic states were executed on the orders and under the leadership of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the ruling and only political party - the All Union Communist (Bolshevik) Party, later the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - and the highest state institutions of the USSR.
  • The so-called "Soviet power" was a cover for the unrestricted dictatorship of the top nomenclature of the Communist Party. The institutions of state rule and administration of the so-called "Baltic Soviet Republics" were in truth merely institutions of self-administration empowered by the occupation power.
  • Although the Communist regime was modified and became seemingly liberalized after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the regime-s essential character did not change.
  • The Communist regime in the occupied Baltic states committed war crimes and genocide directed at various political and social groups. Actions taken against the people of the Baltic states during the mass deportations of 1941 and 1949 possess characteristics of genocide as defined in the United Nations- 9 December 1948 Genocide Convention.
  • Mass repressions carried out against various population groups in the Baltic states continued until 1953, when they were replaced with political persecution and repressions directed against individuals.
  • Because of the policies of the occupation power, each of the Baltic states lost a considerable number of inhabitants, especially the intellectually and economically most active part of the population.
  • The Baltic states suffered huge material losses because of the unequal dependent financial situation and the ineffective economic system enforced by the USSR.
  • The USSR stationed a large military contingent in the Baltic states and directed the migration of hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the Baltic states, especially Latvia and Estonia, from other Soviet republics. As a result of the migration policies, for example, the percentage of Latvians as the titular nation decreased from 77% in 1935 (the last census in independent Latvia) to 52% in 1989 (the last Soviet census). In several Latvian and Estonian cities and districts the titular nation assumed the status of a national minority in its own country.
  • By encouraging colonization and russification, by exerting its power over the church and by establishing total ideological control over all intellectual and cultural life of the society, the occupation regime strived to destroy the identity of the Baltic nations.
  • More than ten years after the end of World War II, close to 80,000 national partisans were engaged in armed resistance against the occupation regime in all of the Baltic states, especially in Lithuania. Unarmed resistance continued after the end of armed resistance.
  • During this period, the sovereignty of the Baltic states was continuously represented and the striving of the Baltic nations for freedom maintained by Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian diplomatic representatives and exile organizations in the democratic countries. The independence of the Baltic states was also supported by those democratic nations that did not recognize de jure the occupation of the Baltic states and their incorporation in the USSR.

Historiographic Conclusions 

  • Since the renewal of independence, a reevaluation of the history and historiography of the Baltic states has begun. New research topics have been developed, and new sources have been introduced into historical research.
  • Research on twentieth-century Latvian history, especially up to 1956, has been carried out successfully not only by research institutions but also archives, museums and recently-founded higher education institutions.
  • Conference participants consider it highly desirable to establish a chair at the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia for the epoch since 1945, thus a chair for contemporary history of Latvia in international context.
  • Within the scope of the conference, scholars have so far concentrated on the economic and social policies of the occupation power, on the repressions and victims of the Communist regime, on armed resistance. Significant research has been the result. Database projects necessary for research of this period have been worked out and the development of these databases has started.
  • Conference participants consider it necessary to encourage scholarly discussions about problems of terminology, methodology, chronology and sources of twentieth-century Baltic history.
  • Conference participants stressed the need to continue research on the repressive politics and policies of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes. These must be expanded to include detailed research on other topics during the entire period of Baltic occupation until August 1991. Concrete research projects must be worked out and databases developed. International cooperation and coordination in this work must be strengthened. There is need for historical surveys based on archival documents and analyses of databases to make research results available to readers in the Baltic states and elsewhere.
  • Conference participants urge research and higher education institutions to become more active in encouraging younger scholars to participate in research projects dealing with the politics and policies of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes.