Annexation of the Baltic States
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbasePer the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between the Soviet Union and Germany on 23 Aug 1939, Latvia and Estonia were in the Soviet sphere of influence while Lithuania was in the German sphere of influence. During the course of the joint Soviet-German invasion of Poland, territories were traded, resulting in all three Baltic States falling within the Soviet sphere of influence. As early as 24 Sep 1939, the Soviet Union began asserting pressure on Estonia, demanding territory for the Soviet military to establish bases. Similar pressures were placed on Latvia and Lithuania in early Oct. By creating political instability through these demands, the Soviet Union successfully toppled some governments, and slowly maneuvered to place Soviet-friendly politicians at the top of the three Baltic States.
ww2dbaseIn Jun 1940, the Soviet Union further increased the pressure. After mobilizing troops on the Baltic States' borders, on 14 Jun a demand for Lithuania to establish a Soviet government was issued, while Soviet forces blockaded Estonia. On 15 Jun, Soviet troops invade Lithuania, while Soviet and Latvian troops exchanged fire near Maslenki, Latvia. The main invasion of Estonia and Latvia began on the following day. Sporadic fighting would continue for days to come, but for the large part the Soviet forces occupied the three countries with relative ease by the end of the day on 17 Jun. In Jul, plebiscites were held in the three countries, and all three nations expressed their wish to join the Soviet Union; the elections were widely recognized as fixed. The annexation of the three countries was completed in early Aug, when Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, in that order, joined the Soviet Union.
ww2dbaseSuspicious of their German allies, Soviet forces would begin constructing defenses in the Baltic States against a potential German invasion before the end of 1940.
William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Last Major Update: Jan 2012
Annexation of the Baltic States Interactive Map
Annexation of the Baltic States Timeline
|24 Sep 1939
|The Soviet Union gave an ultimatum to the Estonian Foreign Minister in Moscow, Russia, demanding land to build a Soviet minitary base in Estonia.
|28 Sep 1939
|Estonia and the Soviet Union signed a 10-year mutual assistance pact which allowed Soviet troops to be stationed in Estonia.
|29 Sep 1939
|Adolf Hitler issued a repatriation order for the 86,000 ethnic Germans living in Estonia and Latvia, knowing that the Soviet Union would soon demand the Baltic States.
|5 Oct 1939
|Soviet Union forced Latvia to agree to allow Red Navy units to base in her Baltic harbors.
|10 Oct 1939
|Soviet Union forced an agreement on Lithuania allowing Red Army bases in that country.
|29 Oct 1939
|Soviet troops began occupying bases in Latvia while preparing for war with Finland.
|3 Jun 1940
|Soviet troops began the preparation for the invasion of the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
|6 Jun 1940
|The Kremlin issued an ultimatum to Latvia, demanding it the allow Soviet occupation.
|9 Jun 1940
|The Soviet Union issued the order for its military to complete preparations for the invasion of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia by 12 Jun 1940.
|12 Jun 1940
|The Soviet Baltic Fleet received orders to blockade Estonia.
|13 Jun 1940
|Soviet troops began amassing on the borders of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
|14 Jun 1940
|The Soviet Union presented an ultimatum to Lithuania, forcing it to allow the establishment of a new Soviet government. Meanwhile, Soviet aircraft and warships blockaded the Estonian coast, shooting down a Finnish passenger aircraft (killing 9, including American and French diplomats) shortly after takeoff at Tallinn to show that the threat was not empty.
|15 Jun 1940
|Soviet troops engaged Latvian border guards at Maslenki, Latvia.
|15 Jun 1940
|Soviet troops began the occupation of Lithuania; the United States refused to recognize the Soviet occupation.
|16 Jun 1940
|The Soviet invasion of Latvia and Estonia began.
|17 Jun 1940
|Soviet troops entered Latvia and Lithuania without little resistance. In Estonia, although a Signal Battalion would resist in Tallinn until 21 Jun, the government, along with the Army and the Estonian Defence League militia organization, surrendered to Soviet occupation. NKO Commissar Semyon Timoshenko ordered the disbanding of the military organizations of the Baltic States, leaving the task of border protection to NKVD troops. In North America, the United States refused to recognize the Soviet occupation of the two Baltic countries.
|21 Jun 1940
|The Estonian Independent Signal Battalion engaged in fighting with Soviet troops at Raua Street in Tallinn, Estonia. The Estonians would be defeated during the night.
|15 Jul 1940
|The Soviet Union announced that recently held plebiscites in Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia revealed that the three Baltic States show near-unanimous support for joining the Soviet Union.
|21 Jul 1940
|The Soviet Union revealed the result of plebiscites in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania held on 14 Jul 1940, claiming that the citizens of the three countries approved the Soviet annexation of their countries. The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was declared.
|3 Aug 1940
|Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic became a member nation of the Soviet Union.
|5 Aug 1940
|The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic was officially incorporated into the Soviet Union.
|9 Aug 1940
|The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic was officially incorporated into the Soviet Union.
|11 Aug 1940
|With the three Baltic States now annexed by the Soviet Union, Vyacheslav Molotov asked Germany to recall their ambassador to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia within the next two weeks, and to close the embassies by 1 Sep 1940.
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