Skip to comments.VE Day Marks Start of Tyranny in Baltics
Posted on 05/06/2005 5:16:18 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
VILNIUS, Lithuania May 5, 2005 For most of the world, Victory in Europe Day signifies triumph over the horrors of the Third Reich, but for Baltic states it also marks the beginning of a new tyranny: 50 years of occupation by the Soviet Union.
The memories remain so raw that the leaders of Lithuania and Estonia have turned down invitations to attend commemorations in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
"We are happy that the Second World War is over on May 8, but May 9 is the beginning of 50 years of slavery. I simply cannot ignore the facts and go over there and stand and simply dishonor the lives we have lost in these 50 years," Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus told Associated Press Television News.
A secret 1939 pact between Germany and the Soviet Union ended two decades of independence for the Baltic states and much of Central and Eastern Europe, paving the way for Soviet domination of the small Baltic countries.
After the Red Army occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1940, more than 200,000 people were herded into cattle cars and exiled to Siberia, viewed by Josef Stalin as enemies of the government. Many were never heard from again.
The Soviet occupation was so harsh that the invading German army was greeted with flowers, hugs and kisses.
"We thought they were saviors because they drove the Soviets away," said Balys Gajauskas, a retired legislator and former head of a commission that investigated the KGB's Soviet-era activities. Gajauskas was just a teenager when Soviet forces occupied Lithuania but remembers vividly the arrests and the fear.
"People fled to the forests to escape being taken," he said. "They only came back when the Nazis arrived."
In 1944, the Red Army drove out the Nazis, and Lithuania once again fell under Soviet rule.
"It's almost as if they came back determined to finish what they had started" said Gajauskas.
In a new wave of terror, which lasted until Stalin's death in 1953, some 350,000 Lithuanians were packed into cattle cars and shipped off to Siberia. Over the same period, more than 15,000 suspected of anti-Soviet activity were brought for questioning to the KGB headquarters in the capital.
The result of our weakness at Yalta...
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