Volume 27, No.3 - Fall 1981
Editor of this issue: Saulius Sužiedėlis
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1981 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.



Editor's Note: In 1944 the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the present CIA, circulated a confidential study on the wartime population losses in those areas of Eastern Europe annexed by the USSR during 1939 and 1940. This report, entitled "Wartime Population Changes in Areas Incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939-1940," was found among the papers of the late Col. Kazys V. Grinius, a former Lithuanian army officer and onetime military attaché in Berlin. Section One of the 37-page study deals with some population estimates of all the areas incorporated into the USSR during 1939 and 1940. Section Two, the major part of the report, describes in some detail the demographic problems of eastern Poland. Section Three concerns the formerly Romanian regions of Northern Bukovina (incorporated into the Soviet Ukraine) and Bessarabia (now the Moldavian SSR). Section Four, about a fourth of the document, reveals OSS data on the Baltic States and Finland. Sections One and Four, as well as the Summary and Conclusions, are presented below in their entirety.

The estimates of wartime population changes have varied over the years, a result of both genuine difficulties in gathering data and the desire to manipulate these figures for political effect. No attempt has been made here to analyze the figures or compare them with other sources.* This document is" presented for its intrinsic historical value. The memorandum itself is presented here without editorial comment and only a few changes in format. A few minor spelling corrections and current place names have been added to the original text and are indicated. The footnotes have been renumbered, but have otherwise been left unedited. The "R and A" references clearly refer to other OSS Research and Analysis Branch reports. The Summary and Conclusions have been placed at the end, rather than at the beginning, as in the original.

When comparing the population estimates with more recent studies, it must be remembered that this memorandum was produced in August of 1944, before a more exact estimate of population losses could have been made. It should also be remembered that, while the report correctly infers that the Baltic area suffered relatively less than the other Soviet-occupied territories during the 1939-1944 period (for example, eastern Poland), the violent imposition of Soviet rule in the region, especially in Lithuania between 1944 and 1952, cost at least several hundred thousand more victims.


Research and Analysis Branch
R % No. 2325



A quantitative study of the population changes that have occurred in Soviet-incorporated Poland, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland from 1939 to July 1944

22 August 1944


A. Introduction

The obstacles in the way of securing an estimate of wartime population changes in the Baltic countries are similar to those encountered in working with Soviet-incorporated Poland. The Baltics have been under foreign occupation for the past four years. They have been fought over several times during this period, and their inhabitants have been subject to deportation, evacuation, mobilization, execution and the hazards of battle. It should be noted that the present estimates carry the population changes only through 1 July 1944, and do not include the drastic effects of the subsequent Russian invasion.

B. Lithuania (See Table 1)

1. Population changes, 1939-1941. According to the Lithuanian Central Statistical Bureau, Lithuania had a population of 2,421,570 prior to the outbreak of war. On 10 October 1939 Lithuania signed a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union whereby the city of Wilno [Vilnius] and the entire Wilno [Vilnius] district, containing a population of 457,500, were ceded to Lithuania. The total population of Lithuania as of 31 December 1939 thus became 2,879,070.1

At the time of the Soviet-German partition of Poland in September 1939, 14,000 Polish soldiers fled into Lithuania and were interned there.2 About 25,000 civilian refugees from Poland, of whom 10,000 were Jews, also fled to Lithuania.3 Under the terms of the Soviet-German agreement of 10 January 1941, 21,343 persons in the former Lithuanian Memel [Klaipėda] region and the once Polish district of Suwalki opted in favor of Soviet citizenship and were transferred to the Soviet Union. Of this number 11,995 were Lithuanians who probably settled in Lithuania proper.4

Table 1.


Population of Lithuania, 1939

Population of the City of Wilno [Vilnius] and
the Wilno [Vilnius] District

Total population, 1939

Changes between 1939 and June 1941:

Add: Polish soldiers interned
        Polish civilian refugees
        Lithuanians from Memel [Klaipeda]












Deduct: Repatriated Germans
            Evacuees into the Soviet Union





Population of Lithuania, June 1941

Changes between July 1941 and July 1944:

Add: Returned repatriated Germans








Deduct: Deportation of workers to Germany





Population, July 1944



The agreement of 10 January 1941 also provided for the repatriation of Germans. By 25 March 1941, 50,471 persons have left Lithuania for the Reich.5An additional 35,000 persons were evacuated or deported to the Soviet Union two weeks before the outbreak of the Russo-German war, and another 30,000 left immediately afterwards, among them about 10,000 Jews.6

2. Population changes 1941-July 1944.

a. Increases. Of the 50,471 repatriated Germans who left Lithuania in March 1941, 36,000 were ordered to return to Lithuania after its conquest by the Germans, and by July 1943, from 18,000 to 20,000 had actually been resettled once again.7

A recent report indicates that the registration of Lithuanians who wished to be repatriated from Russia had been started. The total number of families slated for return was between 15,000 and 20,000.8 Since this plan is of such recent origin, it is likely that the rapid Soviet advance prevented its consummation.

b. Decreases. Reports on the number of Lithuanian workers deported to Germany are in conflict. It has been stated that as of December 1943 "the total number of Lithuanian workers, both volunteers and forced laborers, in the Reich may be estimated at fifty thousand."9 This figure seems somewhat low in the light of other estimates which indicate the following growth in the number of Lithuanians working in Germany: 28,000 by February 1943, 80,000 by October 1943, and 90,000 by February 1944.10 It seems likely that by July 1944 at least 100,000 Lithuanians had been sent to Germany to bolster up the labor force.

German efforts to create a Lithuanian army to be used outside the country met with little success." However, in February 1944,11 batallions of Lithuanian troops, comprising about 30,000 men, were forced to fight Russian partisans in eastern Lithuania and to act as internal police. Faced with a critical shortage of military manpower, the Germans subsequently attempted to incorporate these battalions into the Waffen-SS,12 a move which the troops met with armed revolt. Several battalions stationed in the Wilno [Vilnius] area were disarmed, while the remaining battalions, stationed in northern Lithuania, were warned in time and withdrew to the woods with their arms and ammunition.13

Further German attempts to transport Lithuanian conscripts to Finland were reported to have failed completely.14 Since these efforts at military mobilization did not result in any withdrawal of manpower from Lithuania, there is no effect upon the population balance. The Russians have reported the existence of a Lithuanian Division in the Red Army.15 It is not known whether this division consists of persons evacuated from Lithuania on the eve of the German invasion or of men who entered the Soviet Union after the German occupation of Lithuania. The probabilities are in favor of the former, so that no additional allowance need be made.

In April 1940 the Jews in Lithuania proper, excluding the district of Memel [Klaipėda] which was incorporated into Germany in March 1939, numbered 183,555.16 The cession of Wilno [Vilnius] to Lithuania added another 80,000,17 bringing the total to approximately 263,000.

Ten thousand Jewish refugees from Poland entered Lithuania in September 1939,18 while a like number were evacuated into the Soviet Union in June 1941.19 Thus at the time of the German invasion there were 263,000 Jews in Lithuania. The majority were eventually killed, total executions by the end of 1943 mounting to an estimated 170,000.20 Additional executions took place in 1944, so that the total number of persons executed, including both Jews and non-Jews, may have reached 200,000 by July 1944.21

3. Natural Population Changes. Wartime conditions have undoubtedly reduced the prewar Lithuanian rate of natural increase, which was 8.8 per 1,000.22 It may safely be assumed that natural population factors since 1939 have contributed insignificantly, if at all, to growth of the Lithuanian population.

C. Latvia (See Table 2)

According to official figures, the population of Latvia in December 1938 was 1,995,000.23

Table 2.


Total population, December 1938 

Population changes, 1939 to June 1941:
Deduct: Repatriated Germans
Evacuees to the Soviet Union




Population, June 1941

Less: Deportation of workers to Germany
Military casualties




Population, July 1944



1. Decreases Between 1939 and June 1941. In accordance with an agreement concluded between Latvia and Germany on October 1939 and the resettlement treaty of 10 January 1941 between Germany and the Soviet Union,24 about 64,000 Germans were repatriated from Latvia.

It is reliably estimated that evacuees to the Soviet Union in June 1941 numbered 60,000, including 15,000 Jews.25 The Latvian Red Cross has charged that during the Russian occupation, 1,488 Latvians were executed and 34,340 deported to the Soviet Union, of whom only 2,902 succeeded in returning home.26 If 15,000 Jews are added to the claimed number of deportees, the resultant total would be almost 50,000 which is in substantial agreement with the figure of 60,000 given by Kulischer.

2. Decreases Between June 1941 and July 1944.

a. It is estimated that 60,000 persons were deported from Latvia for work in Germany.27

b. German efforts at military mobilization resulted in the formation of a Latvian Legion, which was expanded into two divisions early in 1943. During the winter of 1944 many of these troops saw heavy action on the Volkhov and Narva fronts.28 While there are no data on casualties among these troops, it is not unlikely that the number of men killed and captured reached 5,000.

It is also known that the Germans ordered the calling up of the classes of 1906 to 1914 and 1919 to 1921 in the beginning of February 1944, which was completed by the end of the month.29 However, Latvian circles are reported to believe that many of these men have deserted,30 so that it is not known how many actually became members of military units. There was also some recruitment of boys 14 to 16 years of age chiefly for police batallions.31 Latvian political youth leaders who received special training in Germany were reported returning to Lativa to lead these battalions.32 Whatever the number mobilized, there is no indication that they were taken out of Latvia, and thus did not constitute a population drain.

c. There were 93,479 Jews in Latvia in 1935, representing 4.79 percent of the entire population.33 On this basis the number of Jews in Latvia as of December would have been approximately 95,600. Deducting the 15,000 Jews evacuated into the Soviet Union, an estimated 80,000 were left when the Germans entered. Some 24,000 Jews were executed by the Germans by November 1942.34 On the assumption that executions continued at the same rate after 1942, the number of Jews killed by July would reach 50,000.

There are only scattered data on the execution of non-Jews. It was reported in May 1944 that a village in northeastern Latvia had been razed and it(s) 300 inhabitants killed as a German reprisal for partisan activities. This is allegedly the sixth "Lidice" action in Latvia, although the German-controlled press has confirmed the razing of only three other villages.35 Soviet sources claim that the German governor destroyed 150,000 Latvians by March 194436 but there appears to be little substantive confirmation of this charge. In the absence of specific information relating to large scale executions of non-Jews, no allowance is made.

3. Natural Increase. The peacetime Latvian rate of population growth was quite low: 4.6 per thousand in 1939 and 3.4 per thousand in 1941.37 It was probably subject to a further decrease between 1941 and 1944, and thus would not have been a significant factor in population change.

D. Estonia (See Table 3)

The population of Estonia on January 1 1939 was 1,134,000.38

1. Decreases in Population Between 1939 and June 1941. As a consequence of treaties concluded between Germany and Estonia on 15 October 1939 and between Germany and the Soviet Union on 10 January 1941, 16,000 Germans were repatriated from Estonia.39 It is generally agreed that about 61,000 persons, including 5,000 Jews, were evacuated into the Soviet Union shortly before the outbreak of the Russo-German war.40

2. Decreases in Population Between June 1941 and July 1944.

a. It is reliably estimated that about 15,000 Estonians were working in Germany at the beginning of 1944.41 There is some indication that deportation of Estonian workers to Germany continued during the Spring and Summer of 1944,42 but there are no quantitative estimates of the total deported by July 1944. In any event the additional number could not have been more than a few thousand.

By April 1944, the Germans had deported 2,000 political prisoners from Estonia. Of these 700 were Estonians and the rest Estonian citizens of Russian origin.43

Table 3.


Population, 1 January 1939

Changes between 1939 and June 1941:

Deduct: Repatriated Germans

Evacuees to the Soviet Union





Population, June 1941

Less: Deportees to Germany
Military casualties




Population, July 1944



It has been reported recently that Estonian youths were being mobilized for labor service in Germany. The 1926 and 1927 age groups had been called up, and the former were supposed to leave for Germany during June 1944. Preparations for the mobilization of younger age groups were also being made.44

While the total number of persons included within these groups of deportees is not available from any single source, an allowance of 20,000 to cover civilian workers, political prisoners and mobilized men seems to be reasonable.

b. Recruiting of volunteers for military service began in 1941, and resulted in the formation of an Estonian Legion, said to number 20,000 men, which has seen considerable action on the eastern front.45 Parts of the Legion, such as the SS Narva Battalion, are known to have sustained heavy casualties.46 Although there is no precise information on the total number of casualties sustained, a figure of 5,000 appears reasonable in view of the length of service of these units.

c. The Germans introduced military conscription in October 1943 for the purpose of raising 15,000 men, primarily for internal police duty. Whether this goal was reached is not known, but it is reported that half the men mobilized were sent home for lack of arms.47 Mobilization was apparently resumed in 1944 to raise units which could be thrown against the advancing Russians. There are reports of a new unit being sworn in and despatched immediately to the front, while others were to be trained and sent to the Narva and Peipus fronts when available.48 Whatever the success of these mobilization(s), there seems to have been no withdrawal of the units from Estonia.

d. An Estonian Rifle Corps was incorporated into the Red Army in February 1942, composed of officers and men of the prewar Estonian army who either retreated with the Russians in 1941 or subsequently found their way into the USSR.49 In all probability the majority of these men are already included among the evacuees who entered Russia in 1941.

e. There were 4,302 Jews in Estonia in 1934, constituting 0.38 percent of the entire population.50 If this ratio is applied to the 1939 population, the estimated Jewish population of Estonia in 1939 was 4,309. Some 5,000 Jews were evacuated into the Soviet Union,51 including some Polish Jewish refugees. It thus appears that the bulk of the Estonian Jews managed to escape the Germans.

There are indications, however, that significant executions have occurred among the non-Jews. The Russians assert that up to February 1942 over 20,000 Estonians had been killed by the Germans.52 Another report states that between 1 February and 31 March 1944 over 10,000 farmers and other resistance elements were shot on orders from Himmler.53 In May 1944 a Riga newspaper reported the extermination of a large underground organization, twenty of whose leaders were executed.54 In sum, it appears that as many as 15,000 Estonians have been executed by the Germans for oppositionist activities.

3. Natural Population Change. In 1939 the rate of increase of the Estonian population was 1.2 per thousand; in 1940 the statistics show a net decrease of 4.1 per thousand.55 While there may have been a further decline after 1941, the total effect upon population would have been negligible.

E. Finland

The Soviet-incorporated portions of Finland contained a population of approximately half a million prior to the Soviet occupation.56 After the treaty of peace between Russia and Finland, 479,000 Karelians left their homes and moved to unoccupied Finland.57

The Finns claim that by July 1943, some 260,000 persons had been resettled in Karelia.58 It is likely that these people will be forced to move once more, and that the Soviets will gain little in terms of population from the permanent incorporation of Finnish Karelia.59


Summary and Conclusions

1. During 1939 and 1940 the three Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and parts of Poland, Rumania and Finland were incorporated into the Soviet Union. The total population of these areas in 1939 was 22.7 million persons. It is estimated that by 1944 the total population in the same territory had decreased by 4.9 million persons, leaving a balance of 17.8 million.

2. The population loss was unevenly distributed among the different areas. Soviet-annexed Poland, where the war had the most profound repercussions, suffered the greatest proportionate loss: more than a quarter of its prewar population. Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, also hard hit, lost more than a fifth of their prewar populations. The Baltic countries, which were relatively unscathed until the current Soviet offensive, emerged with a population one-tenth less than at the time of annexation. Still further decreases may be expected as a result of military activities after July 1944.

3. From the Soviet point of view, not all of the 4.9 million population decline represents a loss.60 It is estimated that 1.8 million persons entered the pre-1939 Soviet Union either as evacuees or as military or political prisoners. Furthermore, many of the labor deportees and prisoners of war taken to Germany and other Axis territory, estimated to total 1.5 million persons, may be repatriated after the war.

4. The incorporated areas have suffered irreparable population losses of 1.9 million persons, consisting of about 1.1 million executions, an excess over births of 500 thousand civilian dead from natural causes, 250,000 repatriated Germans and 60,000 military casualties.


Table 4 sets forth the population changes in each of the incorporated areas from 1939-1940 to July 1944. The prewar figures were taken from Wirtschaft und Statistik, October 1940, No. 19, p. 450, with a slight change to adjust for the transfer of Wilno [Vilnius] from Poland to Lithuania in 1939.

Table 4.



Prewar populiation

Population, July 1944

Bessarabia and Nothern Bukovina








There were originally 500,000 inhabitants in the Soviet-annexed portion of Finland. Practically all were evacuated to Finland when Russia assumed sovereignty over the area. Although some may have returned subsequently, it is likely that they will be re-evacuated should the area be ceded permanently to Russia.

The prewar population data shown in Table 4 correspond closely to the figures cited by Molotov at the Seventh Congress of the Supreme Soviet:

The entry of the Baltic republics into the USSR means that the Soviet Union is increased by the 2.880 million population of Lithuania, the 1.950 million population of Latvia, and the 1.120 population of Estonia. Thus, together with the population of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, the population of the Soviet Union is increased by approximately 10 million persons. If to this is added the more than 13 million population of Eastern (?) Ukraine and Eastern (?) Belorussiya [Belorussia], the result is that during the past year the Soviet Union increased by more than 23 million persons.61

(Editor's note: The questionable reference above must be to the western Ukrainian and Belorussian lands that formed part of Poland before the German and Soviet invasions of September 1939).

 * For a general overview of this period and a suggested bibliography see Encyclopedia Lituanica, IV (Boston, 1975), 322-324.
1 R and A No. 1735, p. i.
2 Kulischer, Eugene M. The Displacement of Population in Europe, Montreal, 1943, p. 50.
3 R and A No. 1735, p. i.
4 R and A No. 1735, p. 17.
5 Ibid., pp. i-ii.
6 Kulischer, op. cit., p. 63.
7 R and A No. 1735, p. ii and p. 12.
8 Airgram A-543, Stockholm, 9 June 1944.
9 R and A No. 1735, p. ii.
10 R and A No. 1623.
11 News Digest, 28 June 1944.
12 R and A No. 1785.15, p. 20, and News Digest, 7 June 1944.
13 News Digest, 7 June 1944 and Airgram A-531, Stockholm, 6 June 1944.
14 News Digest, 3 July 1944.
15 Joint Press Reading Service, 3 June 1944.
16 Scandinavian-Baltic Section, Survey Report, 1942.
17 The American Jewish Committee, Statistics of lews 1940, p. 598.
18 R and A No. 1735, p. i.
19 Kulischer, op. cit., p. 63.
20 R and A No. 1735, p. ii.
21 Cable No. 2525, Moscow, 12 July 1944.
22 F. W. Notestein and Others, The Future Population of Europe and the Soviet Union, League of Nations, 1944, p. 87.
23 Scandinavian-Baltic Section, Survey Report, 1942.
24 Kulischer, op. cit., pp. 12-13.
25 Kulischer, op. cit., chart facing p. 170.
26 News Digest, 17 September 1943.
27 Material in files of Labor Supply Section, Economics Subdivision, Europe-Africa Division, OSS.
28 R and A No. 1785.16, p. 19.
29 R and A No. 1785.15, p. 19.
30 R and A No. 1785.16, p. 22.
31 R and A No. 1785.15, p. 20.
32 Cable No. 2508, Stockholm via London, 7 July 1944.
33 The American-Jewish Committee, Statistics of Jews 1940, p. 602.
34 PM, 26 November 1942, report of Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress.
35 R and A No. 1785.16, p. 22.
36 War and the Working Class, No. 5, 1 March 1944.
37 Notestein, op. cit., p. 87.
38 Scandinavian-Baltic Section, Survey Report, 1942.
39 Kulischer, op. cit., pp. 12-13.
40 Ibid., chart facing p. 170; News Digest, 21 Sept. 1943.
41 Material in Labor Supply Section, Europe-Africa Div., OSS.
42 Daily Digest of World Broadcasts, 7 February 1944.
43 News Digest, 6 July 1944, 10 July 1944.
44 News Digest, 6 June 1944.
45 R and A No, 1785.15, p. 18.
46 News Digest, 28 June 1944.
47 R and A No. 1785.15, pp. 18-19.
48 News Digest, 6 July 1944.
49 R and A No. 1785.17, p. 24.
50 The American-Jewish Committee, Statistics of Jews 1940, p. 602.
51 Kulischer, op. cit., chart facing p. 170.
52 Cable No. 2015, Moscow, 22 November 1943.
53 OSS No. 33345, 1 June 1944.
54 R and A No. 1785.16, pp. 20-21.
55 Notestein, op. cit., p. 87.
56 Wirtschaft und Statistik, October 1940, No. 19, p. 450.
57 Cable No. 1319, Helsinki, 7 December 1943.
58 FCC, Daily Report, 17 July 1943.
59 Cable No. 1157, Stockholm, 5 April 1944.
60 The losses actually total 5.2 million persons. The difference of .3 million represents refugees and other migrants who entered the incorporated area after 1939.
61 S. Sulkevitch, Territoriya i Naseleniye, 1940, p. 6.