Timeline of the occupation of the Baltic states

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Timeline of the occupation of the Baltic States lists key events in the military occupation of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by the Soviet Union during the Second World War.


  • August 23, 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed. A secret protocol of the pact places Estonia, Latvia, and Finland in Soviet sphere of interest. Poland was split up between Soviet and Nazi interests.
  • September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invades Poland. This events signifies start of World War II in Europe.
  • September 14, 1939, Polish submarine Orzeł enters Tallinn harbour, crew interned.
  • September 17, 1939, Soviet Union invades Poland, still working together with Nazi Germany within the MRP framework.
  • September 18, 1939, the Polish submarine Orzeł escapes from Tallinn, sets course to England.
  • September 22, 1939, Soviet Army captures Polish town of Wilno (now Vilnius).
  • September 24, 1939, Soviet Union demands establishment of Russian military bases in Estonia, using the Orzeł incident as the pretext and threatening invasion in case of noncompliance.
  • September 28, 1939, Molotov-Ribbentrop pact amended pursuant to German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty; most of Lithuania now falls into the Soviet sphere of influence.
  • September 28, 1939 Estonia submits to Soviet ultimatum, accepts military bases.
  • October 2, 1939, Soviet Union demands establishment of Russian military bases in Latvia, threatening invasion in case of noncompliance.
  • October 5, 1939 Latvia submits to Soviet ultimatum, accepts military bases.
  • October 5, 1939, Soviet Union begins negotiating with Finland for bases and territory exchanges.
  • October 10, 1939 Lithuania accepts Soviet bases. Soviet Union transfers Vilnius, previously Wilno of Poland, to Lithuania.
  • October 18, 1939, First Red Army units enter Estonia.
  • November 13, 1939, Finland rejects Soviet ultimatum.
  • November 30, 1939 Soviet Union invades Finland. Winter War starts.
  • December 1, 1939 Terijoki Government, Soviet puppet government of Finland created in the Terijoki county captured from Finland.
  • December 14, 1939 League of Nations expels Soviet Union for its illegal war against Finland.


  • January 29, 1940, Soviet Union "forgets" Terijoki government.
  • March 13, 1940 Winter War ends with Moscow Peace Treaty.
  • April 9, 1940, Germany invades Denmark and Norway.
  • June 10, 1940, Germany occupies Norway.
  • June 14, 1940, Germany captures Paris.
  • June 14, 1940 Soviet Union begins air and naval blockade of Estonia.
  • June 14, 1940, Soviet air force shoots down Finnish civilian plane "Kaleva" flying from Tallinn to Helsinki.
  • June 14, 1940 Soviet Union gives ultimatum to Lithuania to form a new government and allow free access for Red Army. The president of Lithuania, Antanas Smetona, proposes armed resistance. Failing to secure support from government or armed forces, he decides to leave the country, so that he could not be used to legalise the occupation.
  • June 15, 1940 Soviet Union occupies Lithuania. President Smetona flees through Germany first to Switzerland then to USA, 1941, where he dies on January 9, 1944, in Cleveland. Prime minister Antanas Merkys yields to Soviet demands, attempts to catch Smetona. Vladimir Dekanozov lands in Kaunas to supervise annexation of Lithuania.
  • June 15, 1940, at 03:00 Soviet troops storm and capture Latvian border posts Masļenkos (Maslenkis) and Smaiļi.
  • June 16, 1940 Similar ultimatums were given to Estonia and Latvia.
  • June 16, 1940, Prime minister of Lithuania Antanas Merkys removes Antanas Smetona from the post of president and, contrary to Lithuanian constitution, assumes presidency himself.
  • June 17, 1940 Estonia and Latvia submit to Soviet demands and are occupied. Prime minister of Lithuania Antanas Merkys assigns Justas Paleckis as new prime minister, resigns and is arrested.
  • June 18, 1940, Sweden and Germany sign treaty allowing transit of German soldiers from Norway using Swedish territory.
  • June 19, 1940, A demonstration is staged in Vilnius in support of Soviet Army.
  • June 20, 1940, New Latvian government of Moscow-approved ministers is formed.
  • June 21, 1940, New Estonian government containing only left-wing activists is formed. Soviet Union arrange a number of Red Army backed support demonstrations in several cities.
  • June 22, 1940, France surrenders to Nazi Germany.
  • July 8, 1940, Sweden and Germany sign treaty allowing transit of German war material between Norway and ports in Southern Sweden.
  • July 11, 1940, Baltic Military District is created by Soviet Union at Riga, on the territories of theoretically still independent states
  • July 14, 1940 – July 15, 1940, Mock elections in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where non-communist candidates were disqualified, harassed and beaten. Results of Latvian "elections" published in advance in London by accident.
  • July 17, 1940, The acting president of Lithuania, Antanas Merkys, is imprisoned and deported to Saratov, Soviet Union. He dies March 5, 1955.
  • July 21, 1940 – July 23, 1940 New Soviet-backed Estonian assembly transforms Estonia according to Soviet style, disregarding existing constitutional framework for government restructuring.
  • July 21, 1940 New Latvian Saeima accepts wide nationalisation and Sovietization decrees.
  • July 22, 1940, The president of Latvia, Kārlis Ulmanis, is arrested and deported to Russia, never returning. He died in a prison in Krasnovodsk on September 20, 1942.
  • July 23, 1940, Heads of Baltic diplomatic missions in London and Washington, D. C. protest against Soviet occupation and annexation of their countries.
  • July 23, 1940 Sumner Welles' (US Under-Secretary of State) Declaration. United States applies the precedent of earlier Stimson Declaration to Baltic states, pursuing a policy of non-recognition of annexation of the Baltic States de jure. Most other Western countries maintain similar position until restoration of Baltic states' sovereignty in 1991.
  • July 30, 1940, The president of Estonia, Konstantin Päts, is imprisoned by NKVD and deported to Russia where he dies in the mental hospital of Kalinin on January 18, 1956.
  • August 3, 1940 Soviet Union annexes Lithuania.
  • August 5, 1940 Soviet Union annexes Latvia.
  • August 6, 1940 Soviet Union annexes Estonia.
  • September 6, 1940, Soviet Union acquires troop and material transfer rights from Finland between Hanko and Soviet border.
  • September 22, 1940, Germany acquires troop and material transfer rights from Finland between northern Norway and ports of Gulf of Bothnia.
  • November 12, 1940, Germany refuses Soviet Union demands for right to handle Finland as they will in negotiations in Berlin.
  • December 16, 1940, The Russian SFSR penal code is applied to retroactively in Estonia, applying to acts committed before 21 June 1940.


  • January 10, 1941, Soviet Union and Germany make an agreement for late resettlement of Baltic Germans from Latvia and Estonia.
  • June 14, 1941 First mass deportations from Estonia (10 000), Latvia (15 000) and Lithuania (18 000) to sparsely populated areas of Siberia.
  • June 15, 1941, The Governor of New York, Herbert Lehman, declares 15 June to be Baltic States Day.
  • June 22, 1941 Germany enacts Operation Barbarossa, invades Soviet Union. In Soviet historiography, start of World War II as the Great Patriotic War.
  • 24/25 June 1941 Soviet authorities massacre political prisoners in Rainiai, Lithuania.
  • June 25, 1941 Continuation War breaks out between Finland and Soviet Union.
  • June 2, 1941, General mobilisation is announced in the Soviet Union.
  • July 4, 1941 Mass deportations from Estonian islands.
  • July 7, 1941, German forces reach Southern Estonia.
  • July 9, 1941 Soviet authorities leave Tartu after executing 199 political prisoners, among them women and at least one child.
  • July 10, 1941, German forces reach Tartu.
  • July 17, 1941 State Commissariat Ostland formed in Riga, Hinrich Lohse appointed State Commissar.
  • July 21, 1941, Stalin seeks Churchill's de jure recognition of the Soviet Union's new western border, Churchill does not respond.
  • August 14, 1941 Roosevelt and Churchill announce the Atlantic Charter.
  • August 31, 1941, Mainland Baltics now fully occupied by German forces.
  • September 20, 1941 Heinrich Himmler visits Estonia.
  • November 25, 1941, US deputy Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, re-affirms the US policy in regard to non-recognition of Baltic annexation.
  • December 19, 1941 Alfred Rosenberg, the German State Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, enacts civil labour obligation for all residents of the occupied territories aged 18–45.
  • December 1941 Within six months of German occupation, 10000 people, including 1000 Estonian Jews, are either imprisoned or executed.


  • January 20, 1942 Heydrich declares at the Wannsee Conference that Estonia is "Judenfrei".
  • February 25, 1942 German law comes into force in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but are only applied to ethnic Germans.
  • March 16, 1942 Goebbels writes in his diary that the Baltic people are naïve to believe that the Germans will allow them to re-establish national governments.
  • March 30, 1942 Himmler proposes plan to Germanise the Eastern Territories including establishing German settlements after the war.
  • May 20, 1942 Molotov visits London, Great Britain refuses to recognise the legality of the new western border of the Soviet Union.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael L. Dockrill, B. J. C. McKercher, Diplomacy and World Power: Studies in British Foreign Policy, 1890-1950, Cambridge University Press 1996, p226