LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 26, No.1 - Spring 1980
Editor of this issue: Thomas Remeikis
Copyright © 1980 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE NAZI-SOVIET PACT OF 1939 AND THE BALTIC STATES
Reactions Forty Years Later
EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION. On August 24,1979, Western news agencies reported from Moscow that a statement on the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939, was released in Moscow by Baltic dissidents. The statement, signed by 45 people from the Baltic republics, called on the parties involved to annul the pact and in effect reestablish the independent Baltic States, which were forcibly occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union as a result of the secret clauses of the pact. The text of the statement has now reached the West and is published here. It should be noted that in addition to the 45 Baits (mostly Lithuanians) who signed the statement, reportedly 35,000 signatures have been collected in Lithuania in support of the demands expressed in the statement. Such a number of supporters, representing more than one percent of the Lithuanian people, under the circumstances of prohibition of political activities, suggests a broad rejection of the legitimacy of Soviet rule over the Baltic nations. It is also significant to note that the leaders of the Russian democratic movement have added their support to the demands of self-determination for the Baltic peoples. The text of their statement is also published here.
The occupation and annexation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union has not been recognized by a number of Western states, including the United States. The latest statement of United States policy toward the Baltic States, also published here, is another reminder that forty years later the consequences of an imperialistic agreement have not been abrogated and, therefore, still constitute a challenge to the principles of international relations enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
1. A STATEMENT OF BALTIC REPRESENTATIVES
The Government of the U. S. S. R.
The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
The Government of the German Democratic Republic
The Governments of all nations which have signed the Atlantic Charter
Mr. Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the UN
In Soviet jurisprudence the term National Sovereignty refers to a nation with all its rights, with political freedom, with a real possibility to determine fully its own destiny, and primarily the potential for self-determination, including the ability to form its own independent state. National sovereignty is characterized by political, territorial, cultural, and linguistic independence manifesting itself in a state with full sovereign rights in all social aspects, with a guarantee of their full realization.
National sovereignty cannot be bestowed nor taken away; it can only be damaged or restored.
In 1919 Lenin acknowledged the de facto existence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had recently seceded from Imperial Russia. In 1920 Soviet Russia concluded peace treaties with these nations, extending to the Baltic States de jure recognition as well. In the name of the Soviet government, Lenin renounced in perpetuity all sovereign rights to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, but nineteen years later Stalin and Hitler infringed on the sovereignty of these nations. August 23rd of this year marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, implementation of which meant the end of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian independence.
On the 23rd of August, 1939, Germany and Soviet Russia signed a non-aggression treaty, including a secret protocol on the division of Eastern Europe into so-called spheres of influence. The aim of the secret Molotov and Ribbentrop talks was to decide the fate of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bessarabia, and Northern Bukovina. Finland, Estonia, and Latvia were to go to the Soviet Union, and Lithuania to Germany.
On September 28, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a treaty of friendship and demarcation. The pact amended the secret protocol of August 23, so that now Lithuania as well was to go to the Soviet Union, with the exception of the left shore of the Šešupė River, which in case of necessity would be occupied by the German armies.
Between the 15th and 17th of June, 1940, on orders of the government of the U. S. S. R., the Red Army effected this case of necessity by occupying the territories of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, including that part of Lithuania which was to have gone to Germany.
On January 10, 1941, the German ambassador to the Soviet Union, Dr. Von Schulenburg, on the one hand, and Chairman Molotov of the Council of People's Commissars of the U. S. S. R. on the other, signed a new secret protocol in which the object of negotiation was the aforementioned district in Lithuania. The German government renounced in favor of the Soviet Union its claims to the territory west of the Šešupė River in return for monetary compensation in the sum of 7.5 million dollars in gold or 31.5 reichsmarks.
The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact turned out to be the conspiracy of the two greatest tyrants in history, Stalin and Hitler, against peace and humanity, which laid the basis for the Second World War. We consider the 23rd of August a day of infamy.
On August 14,1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the U.S.A. and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain signed the so-called Atlantic Charter, consisting of six points. Point 2 proclaimed that the U.S.A. and England "desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned." Point 3 recognizes "the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them." The Soviet Union signed this Charter on the 24th of September, 1941.
In the declaration by the U. S. S. R., it was stated that in foreign affairs ". . . the Soviet Union will follow the principle of national self-determination . . . the U. S. S. R. favors the right of each nation to national independence, territorial integrity, and the right to decide its own social system and that form of government which the people would judge to be necessary for their country's economic and cultural development."
It would be well to recall that according to international law, it is impossible for a nation to practice self-determination if its land is occupied by a foreign army. This is also emphasized in Lenin's Declaration on Peace, which states that if a nation "has not had the opportunity for free elections, without the presence of foreign forces or the influence of an occupying power, the joining of their territory to another country is annexation; namely, it has been taken over by force."
The results of the well-known Munich pact of September 29, 1938, were abrogated by the very fact of Germany's defeat in the war. The government of the Federal German Republic, under pressure from public opinion in Czechoslovakia, admitted the Munich pact to be invalid from the very moment of its signing. However, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact seems juridically to be still in effect. We consider that the silence of the world on this matter supports aggressors past, present, and future.
that the Soviet Union publish the full text of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, including the secret protocols. We wish to recall that Lenin's Decree on Peace declared that the Soviet government renounces secret diplomacy. We also ask for declarations that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was invalid from the moment of its signing;
that the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic declare the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact null and void from the moment of its signing, and we ask them to assist the Soviet government to nullify the consequences of that pact: namely, to withdraw foreign troops from the Baltic States. In order to accomplish this, it would be fitting to create an appropriate commission, to be made up of the representatives of the Moscow, Bonn, and East Berlin governments, to nullify the results of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
We ask the governments signatory to the Atlantic Charter, on the basis of their moral responsibility, to denounce the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its consequences. We would like to call attention to the fact that an action is not an internal affair when it essentially endangers peace and security, trampling accepted international norms. The principle of self-determination of peoples and nations recognizes any method in the struggle against colonialism, which is an international crime. That is why it is just that people around the world support wars of liberation. Furthermore, in accordance with the Declaration on Principles of International Law, every state is obliged to work for and support the realization of the principles of equality and national self-determination.
We remind the Secretary-General of the United Nations that this international organization is the successor of the League of Nations, of which Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were full and active members until the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact went into effect. Consequently, upon you rests the juridical responsibility for the fate of the Baltic States.
that in the next General Assembly of the UN, the consequences of the nullification of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact be taken up. We wish to mention that the principle of self-determination is confirmed in present international law; for instance, such significant documents as the United Nations Charter (paragraphs 1, 13, 55, 76), and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which was adopted in the General Assembly on December 14, 1960; the resolution of December 20, 1965, of the General Assembly, recognizing the rights of colonial areas to independence; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, passed by the 20th Session of the General Assembly on December 21, 1965; the International Covenants on Human Rights, passed by the 21st Session of the General Assembly, December 16, 1966; and the Declaration of Principles of International Law, passed during the 25th Jubilee Assembly, October 24, 1970. These and other United Nations international instruments affirm the rights of peoples to equality and self-determination.
The right of all nations to determine their own destiny; that is, under conditions of complete freedom to choose internal and external political status without external interference, and to realize, in accord with their own wishes, their political, economic, social, and cultural development;
The right of each nation to decide on the disposition of its own resources;
The obligation of each state to foster the principles of equality and self-determination, as presented by the United Nations Charter;
That equality and self-determination have been proclaimed as the main principles in international law in the final documents of the Conference on European Security and Cooperation.
You know, Mr. Secretary-General, that the above-mentioned international documents, which are binding, are being transgressed by some members of the United Nations. We request that the next session of the General Assembly take up the matter of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, since the peoples of these nations have been deprived of their rights and the opportunity to determine their own destiny.
August 23, 1979
Romas Andrijauskas, Stasė Andrijauskienė, Alfonsas Andriukaitis, Edmundas Bartuška, Vytautas Bastys, Vytautas Bogušis, (Rev.) Vladas Bobinas, Romas Vitkevičius, Jonas Volungevičius, Jonas Dambrauskas, Jonas Eišvidas, Rimas Žukauskas, Ivars Žukovksis, Alfredas Zeideks, Juris Ziemelis, Liutauras Kazakevičius, Leonas Laurinskas, Rimas Mažukna, (Rev.) Mocius, Mart Niklus, (Rev.) Napoleonas Narkūnas, Sigitas Paulavičius, Angelė Paškauskienė, Kęstutis Povilaitis, Jadvyga Petkevičienė, Jonas Petkevičius, Jonas Protuse-vičius, Sigitas Randis, Endel Ratas, Henrikas Sambore, Julius Sasnauskas, Leonora Sasnauskaitė, Algis Statkevičius, Kęstutis Subačius, Enn Tarto, Antanas Terleckas, Erik Udam, Ints Calitis, Petras Cidzikas, Arvydas Čekanavičius, Vladas Šakalys, Jonas Šerkšnas, Zigmas Širvinskas, Mečislovas Jurevičius, (Rev.) Virgilijus Jaugelis.
2. A STATEMENT OF RUSSIAN DEMOCRATS
The Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia have been annexed into the Soviet Union in disregard of the wishes of the people of these lands, essentially as a result of the occupation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Army.
Since we support the principles of equal rights and self-determination of all nations, and respect the right of each nation to determine its own destiny, we recognize that in the present historical conditions, the question of self-determination for Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia must be decided by referendum, and that this should be held under conditions in which the people could freely express their wishes and intentions.
We support the Lithuanian, Estonian, and Latvian representatives' call to consider the injustices done to these nations, and their rights to determine freely their own destiny.
3. A STATEMENT ON US POLICY TOWARD THE BALTIC STATES
STATEMENT BY ROBERT L. BARRY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JUNE 26, 1979
I am pleased to be here today to discuss U. S. policy toward Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The Baltic Nonrecognition Policy
As your Committee is aware, the United States has consistently refused to recognize the forcible and unlawful incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union in 1940. As a corollary of this nonrecognition policy, we have recognized and continued to deal with diplomatic representatives holding commissions from the last three independent governments. The Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Charges d'Affaires in the United States enjoy full diplomatic privileges, perquisites, and immunities.
Our nonrecognition policy is manifested in a variety of ways. The Secretary of State annually issues National Day greetings, through the Charges d'Affaires, to the Baltic peoples, and representatives of the Department of State attend the official National Day functions of the three Legations. We also seek to coordinate the actions of other U. S. agencies with respect to such matters as the captions and place names on official U. S. Government maps, so that the U. S. Government speaks with a consistent voice in relation to our nonrecognition policy. We attempt to stay in touch with the Baltic peoples by means of VOA and Radio Liberty radio broadcasts in their native language.
Some Americans are troubled by the fact that we deal with the Soviet Union on particular matters affecting Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. However, this generally involves matters affecting the welfare of individuals. If we wish to assist in the reunification of families by facilitating the departure of family members form the area, we must talk with Soviet officials. Americans wishing to visit the Baltic republics must obtain Soviet visas. The necessity of area, we must talk with Soviet officials. Americans wishing to visit the Baltic republics must obtain Soviet visas. The necessity of dealing with the Soviets on particular topics does not in our view detract from the integrity of our Baltic nonrecognition policy.
Recognition of the Soviet incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is ours to extend or withhold, and we have not extended it. Recognition is not for others to infer or to assume on the basis of particular acts by the United States involving particular individuals or subjects. Contrary interpretations which others may enunciate are not controlling. This is especially the case in light of the fact that we reiterate on all appropriate public occasions our policy of not legally recognizing the forcible incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union.
I understand that you are particularly interested in discussing what measures the United States might take to help the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The Department of State's view is that continuation of our nonrecognition policy remains an appropriate way of expressing nonrecognition of the forcible Soviet incorporation of the three Baltic states. It has been made clear to us repeatedly in the postwar years that many people in the Baltic states look to the U. S. nonrecognition policy as a reminder that we have not forgotten them, and as a symbol of hope for the future. We also believe that the emphasis which this Administration has placed on human rights world-wide meets some of these concerns.
The Baltic Diplomatic Missions
The Baltic Legations in the United States remain important symbols to the Baltic peoples, and our continued recognition and accreditation of the diplomatic representatives of the last independent governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania serve to give tangible expression to our nonrecognition policy. It should be understood that we do not regard the Baltic legations as governments-in-exile. The Baltic Charges d'Affaires are persons who were commissioned diplomatic officers of the last three independent governments in 1940. Their role is to uphold the ideal of a free Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
It is also important to note that the three Baltic Legations are diplomatic entities independent of U. S. Government financing. They are financed by Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian government funds which were blocked in the United States in 1940.
As the corps of diplomats commissioned by the last independent governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania dwindles with the passage of time, the prospect of continued Baltic representation will have to be addressed. Baltic financial resources are also finite and dwindling, especially in the case of Lithuania. The Baltic Charges d'Affaires and interested private citizens have discussed the questions of continued representation and finances with us in recent months. Aspects of these questions will require decisions by the U. S. Government which have not yet been made.
In these remarks I have tried to review our concerns with regard to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, emphasizing the importance that we attach to our policy of nonrecognition of their forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1940. We feel that in the era following the Helsinki Final Act with heightened interest in human rights worldwide, our Baltic policy remains relevant and important to overall U. S. policy interests.
Secret protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939