Lithuanian History: Soviet Era (1940-41/44-91)

Figure 1.--Here we have Lituanian children visiting Britain during the 1960s. We are unsure what to make of them. They are referred to as 'refugee' children. We think they have just arrived from Lithuania. But as far as I know there were no refugee children in Soviet Lithuania at the time. And if there were, it was not the kind of thing the Soviets liked to advertise by sending the children abroad. The way the children are dressed, they look to us more likely to have come from Norway than Lithuania. I supose Sweden is a possibility. The press captain was rather anbiguous. It read, "Refugee children from Lithuania, which was annexed by Stalin to Russia during World War I, arriviung at Liverpool Station yesterday for a two months' holiday with families in Swanage, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight, under the auspices of International Help for Children (IHC)." We at first thought that Liverpool station mean a train station in Liverpool. Actually British train station are more commonly named after their street location. A British reader explains. "What has been strange to me is the wording 'Liverpool Station'. We have been thinking of the city of Liverpool's Lime Street Station. The station here, however, is not in Liverpool. It is the terminus of the East Anglia line. The port of Harwich is on this line. The station is in London. It is called Liverpool Street Station. The children probably arrived on a North Sea ferry docking at Harwich then they caught the boat train to London Liverpool Street Station. They would then have gone to Waterloo for the train to Swanage. At Swanage they could go by ferry to the Isle of Wight." IHC is a British charity begun by Margaret McEwen during World War II (1944). The idea was to provide holidays to needy British and European Children affected by the World War II especially refugees and those thrown into poverty by the effects of war. The first major problem was aiding Dutch children adversely impacted by the German occupation, especially the Hunger Wiunter. IHC was formally organized (1947). A British reader notes that the IHC was active in Norway. It operated for 53 years when it was converted into the Margaret McEwen trust which is involved in other charitable actuvities.

The Red Army seized control of Lithuania (1940). The new Soviet installed puppet government obediently set about applying the Stalin's orders. Cointrol was in the hands of the NKVD. and the NKVD pursued a terrifying regime od arrests and deportations. Part of the Soviet plan was to organize the emogration of ethnic Russians into the country. Many of those arrested were shot, others disappeared into the Gulag. As a result, many Lithuanians saw the NAZIs as liberators when they invaded (June 1941). The German crossed the border as past of Operation Barbarossa (June 1941) and began a region of terror of their own. As part of Generalplan Ost, ethic Lithuninns were slated for death, but immediate killing progranms focused in Jews. The Red Army began to retake Poland and Lithuania with Operation Bagearion (July 1944). The Red Army reimposed Soviet rule (1944-45). Stalin resumed Russian emmigration to Lithuania to change the ethnic ballance. The Soviet seizure of Lithuania and the other Baltic states was never recognized by the United States and other Western European countries. After reoccupying the Baltic states, the Soviets implemented a program of sovietization, which involved extensive industrialisation. The Soviets carried out massive deportations of ethnic Lituanians to stamp out all resistance to collectivisation or support of partisans. Baltic partisans, such as the Forest Brothers, continued to resist Soviet rule through armed struggle for several years, but were finally hunted down an executed. The Soviets had previously carried out mass deportations (1940–41), but the second wave of deportations (1944–55) were even larger greater. The effort was even more pronoubced in Latvia and Estionia. [Hiden & Salmon, p. 130.] Some 245,000 Lithuanians were deported, about the number deported from the three Baltic republic. The conditions of the deportations were harsh. Some 20,000 Lithuanians including 5,000 children perished. [International Commission] Considerably more ethnic Lithuanians died after World War II than during it. [Snyder, p. 80-83.] The effort the change the ethnic compositiion of the Baltic states continued even after the death of Stalin, but the forced deportations were disontinued soon after his death. Soviet authorities attempted, but failed to totally suppress Lithuania's national identity. Underground dissident groups were active in the post-Era after Stalin's death when the draconia NKVS operations were suspended. They began publishing periodicals and catholic literature. [Vasiliauskaitė] While the Soviets cointinued to destroy monuments an artifacts of the indeenbdence era, Lithuanians nationalists quitely wiorked to promote national culture, preserved historical memory, instigated patriotism with the idea of a future independence. Here a major break was the Helsiki Accirds (1970s). Dissidents established the Lithuanian Freedom League under Antanas Terleckas. The Helsinki Group demanded that Lithuania's occupation be recognised illegal and the NAZ-Soviet pact be condemned. [Lietuvos Helsinkio grupė] The KGB continued to supress nationalist movenment, but the Helsinki Accords provided a degree of international cover.


Hiden, Johan and Patrick Salmon. The Baltic Nations and Europe (Revised ed.) ( Harlow, England: Longman, 1994).

International Commission For the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania. Deportations of the Population in 1944-1953, paragraph 14.

Lietuvos Helsinkio grupė. (Dokumentai, atsiminimai, laiškai) sudarė V. Petkus, Ž. Račkauskaitė (Uoka: 1999).

Snyder, Timothy. The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (Yale University Press: 2003).

Vasiliauskaitė, V. Lietuvos Ir Vidurio Rytų Europos šalių periodinė savivalda, 1972–1989 (2006).

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