Latvian Deportees of the 1940s: Their Release and Rehabilitation
Following the division of the Baltic states between the USSR and Nazi Germany during the Second World War, the hitherto independent state of Latvia became an integral component of the Soviet sphere of influence. The Red Army first entered the country in June 1940, when a ‘socialist revolution’ was staged by pro-Moscow forces, and in early August, Latvia, along with Estonia and Lithuania, was ‘voluntarily’ incorporated into the Soviet Union. The new regime’s attempts to establish a Sovietised system were not supported by the mass of the people, not least because the practices were accompanied by violent repressions. War hostilities started on Latvian territory in the summer of 1941, when Nazi forces promptly occupied the entire land for more than three years. This was followed in 1944 by Soviet re-occupation, re-Sovietisation efforts and reprisals against the native population. The scale and character of the repression, as well as the intensity and shape of Latvian resistance, differed from the Stalinist period to Khrushchev’s ‘Thaw’ to the Brezhnevite ‘era of stagnation’, but harmony between the communist regime and the local community was never attained. Taking advantage of a weakened Soviet government, Latvia, together with the other Baltic nations, demanded its freedom and peacefully achieved independence in 1991. Recovery and the restoration of the democratic parliamentary republic was followed by the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia and accession to the European Union in 2004.
KeywordsLife Story Oral History Communist Regime State Archive Labour Camp
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