28. Soviet Union/Latvia (1940-1991)


Crisis Phase (August 5, 1940-May 6, 1945):  The Soviet Union formally annexed Latvia on August 5, 1940.  Some 35,000 Latvians were killed or deported during the Soviet occupation between 1940 and 1941.  Some 134,000 Latvians fled as refugees to western European countries, mostly to Germany and Sweden.  Germany troops occupied Latvia beginning on June 23, 1941.  German troops entered Riga on July 1, 1941, and German troops completed their occupation of Latvia on July 8, 1941.  Latvia became part of the German province of Ostland on July 28, 1941.  Some 10,600 Latvian Jews in Riga were killed by the German government.  Soviet troops re-occupied Latvia beginning on July 17, 1944.  Soviet troops re-captured Riga on October 13, 1944.  Some 50,000 Latvians were deported to Siberia in January 1945.  Some 45,000 individuals were killed during the crisis.

Conflict Phase (May 7, 1945-December 31, 1952):  Latvian nationalists declared the independence of the Republic of Latvia on May 7, 1945.  Soviet troops completed their occupation of Latvia on May 8, 1945.  Latvian nationalists rebelled against Soviet troops between 1945 and 1949, resulting in the deaths of some 2,300 Latvians.  Some 100,000 Latvians were deported to Siberia between 1945 and 1949, including some 43,200 Latvians deported on March 25-29, 1949.

Post-Conflict Phase (January 1, 1953-September 6, 1991):  The European Parliament (EP) condemned the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries on January 12, 1983.  On July 23, 1988, Latvians demonstrated in Riga against the 1940 annexation of Latvia by the Soviet Union. The Latvian Supreme Council annulled the 1940 annexation of Latvia by the Soviet Union on May 4, 1990. Four individuals were killed in political violence in Riga on January 14-20, 1991. Some 74 percent of Latvians voted in favor of independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum on March 3, 1991. Some 65 observers monitored the referendum. Latvia formally declared its independence from the Soviet Union on August 21, 1991, and the USSR State Council accepted Latvia’s independence on September 6, 1991.

[Sources: Banks and Muller, 1998, 524-528; Bilmanis 1951; Ference, 1994, 337-391; Keesing’s Record of World Events, January 1991.]