"Latvia"
50 Years of Terror Tyranny and Oppression 1940–1991
Home      25 March 1949 Stalins Soviet KGB Mass Deportations of Latvian
 
   
 
25 March 1949 Stalin's Soviet Union KGB Mass Deportations of Latvian 
 
       
                                                                             Railway Transports Carriages used for the Mass Deportation of Latvian people in the night on 25 March 1949 
 
Mass deportations to remote faraway places in Siberia, was one of the most used tools, by the Soviet Union leaders to take complete control over the society and strengthen their power. Deportations to Siberia, was already practiced by the Czarist government, but on much lower scale. Joseph Stalin was sent to Siberia many times, but could leave his captivity without getting caught. However, the Soviet deportations were on a much larger scale; whole families were deported to tightly guarded camps in places with horrid weather, with no chance to escape.
 
Latvia faced the first deportation during the night of the 13th and 14th of June 1941, when 15 424 people were sent to GULAG. Most of them were members of the national elite, statesman, scientists, artists and businessman. The goal of this deportation was to remove all potential anti-Soviet elements from Latvia. On the 5th and 6th of February 1945, the so-called “German operation” took place, where German nationals from Riga and the countryside were sent to the Komi Autonomous Socialist Republic.
 
The next and largest deportation of the Latvian people took place in the winter and spring 1949. The target of this deportation was former wealthy farmers or “kulaks” as the Soviets called them. The goal was to prepare Latvia for complete agricultural collectivization and also get rid of the national resistance.
 
Agricultural collectivization was carried out first in the Soviet Union in the early thirties, causing famine and large decrease of the agricultural production. However, this kind of Stalinist model managed to survive and now at the end of the forties such model was enforced in Latvia. One of the elements of this model was the elimination of kulaks as a class that got nothing to with the deeds of the single person.
 
Stalin himself explained the importance of the fight against the “kulaks”. “But what to do with the kulak expropriation policy, should we in regions with full collectivization allow the kulak expropriation? Many sides are asking that. Funny question. The kulak expropriation was impossible, as long as we kept restricting the kulak exploiting tendencies, as long as we were unable to make a decisive strike on them, as long as we were unable replace the kulak farms with the kolkhozes. Then the policy that forbids any kulak expropriation was rightful and needed. But now? Now it’s different. Now we have the chance to begin the decisive attack against the kulaks, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace their farms with kolkhozes. Now the kulak expropriation is no longer a simple administrative step. Now the kulak expropriation is part of the founding and developing the kolkhozes. No less funny is the second question: should we allow kulak in kolkhoz? Of course, he must not be allowed into kolkhoz. Cannot because he is the deadliest enemy of the kolkhoz movement” Stalin said this in thirties and his vision in Russia and Ukraine were realized causing great destruction. Now it was the Latvian turn for this.
 
In the spring of 1947 The Central Committee of All Russia Communist party made the decision to begin the collectivization in the three Baltic States. Until the 25th of March 1949, 1,443 kolkhozes were established. That was far too small for the Soviet needs, because Latvian farmers resisted the entry into collective farms. Latvians had centuries of private farming traditions and the Soviet collectivization been rouge for them. Kolkhozes could only suit the needs of the countrymen who had no land of their own or paid servants in the private farms who wanted to take away the property from their masters.
 
On  the 27th of August 1947, the LSSR Council of Ministers imposed heavy taxes on the kulak farms. 10,432 such farms were put on the pressure. The reason for this was to make the private farmers bankrupt and force them to join the kolkhozes. Until the 1st of February 1949, 713 kulaks were jailed for not paying taxes. In 1948, 444 horses, 6,282 cows and 10,579 pigs were taken away by the state.
 
But, that was not enough as more horrid plans were set to deport kulaks to Siberia. Until the 15th of September 1948, 1027 kulak families were counted and so-called 5,000 legalized bandits "members of the national resistance movement", but overall 14,206 people with anti-Soviet past were found in the countryside. On the 21st of September 1948, the LSSR attorney "Mishutin" suggested to the first secretary of the Latvian Communist party "Jānis Kalbērziņš" to make preparations for deporting the anti-Soviet elements. On the 17th of January 1949, the First Secretary of the Estonian Communist party "Nikolai Karotamm" reported to Stalin that at the time of spring sowing the kulaks should be deported from all three Baltic States. On the 18th of January Kalnbērziņš along with his Lithuanian colleague were called to meet Stalin in private. On the 29th of January USSR Council of Ministers made a top-secret decision "nr. 390-138" to make mass deportations at the end of March 1949. The responsibility was given to the Soviet Ministry of Interior. The intended number of deported people was more than 29,000 families from all three Baltic States.
 
In Latvia the list was prepared according to agricultural census in 1939 and the war tribunal verdicts for the nationalists. The list was approved by the LSSR State Security Minster Alfons Noviks and LSSR attorney Mishutin. In the 17th of March the top secret order was given to deport the kulaks from Latvia. Later the nationalists were included. Their property was meant to be confiscated and chosen place of captivity was the regions of Amur, Omsk and Tomsk.
 
On the night of the 24th and 25th of March at Riga and Provincial Centers the last instructions were given to local officials. Operative groups were assembled and spread out in every region.
 
On  the 25th of March the deportation was carried out in all Latvia. Whole families were taken away from their homes and loaded in the cargo and cattle trains. According to the Latvian State Archive data 29,252 kulaks and 12,832 nationalists were deported in a single day. By that more that 42 thousand people with many of them children were taken to Siberia. The deported people were told that they will be placed at the new location eternally. Their new homes were kolkhozes at faraway poor lands at Siberia.
 
After the death of Stalin on the 5th of March 1953 slowly the GULAG system was abolished. Deported people could return in the middle of the fifties, some were allowed to return much later. Not all returned and there are still some Latvian villages in Siberia. "Those who returned could not gain back their lost lands, as they were taken by kolkhozes".
 
The mass deportation of on the 25th of March was intended to speed up the collectivization and suppress the national resistance. And it proved to be successful as those who stayed were too frightened to resist the collectivization and joined the kolkhozes. By deporting all the successful farmers a massive strain was inflicted to the Latvian agriculture. The collectivization was against the historic and natural way of Latvian farm economy. The extremely flawed concept of the kolkhozes ruined the Latvian countryside for generations to come.
 
By such the deportation of the 25th of March 1949, is one of the most devious Soviet crimes done in Latvia and should be commemorated.
 
25 March 1949 Deportation List of Saldus, Latvia Parish "District" Area
 
Latvian Memorial to the "Mass Deportations of 13-14 June 1941" 
 
      
                                       Latvian Monument to those Deported on the 13th and 14th of June 1941 from the Torņakalns Railway Station
 
13-14 June 1941 Riga Mass Deportations from Torņakalns Railway Station.
 
Located next to the Torņakalns Railway Station is a simple memorial, with only the date “1941”, stands by a railway goods wagon similar to those in which 35,000 Latvian men, women and children were deported to distance Soviet Union “GULAG” Forced Hard Labor Camps located in the far parts of Siberia. It is an expressive and emotional monument to Soviet genocide.
 
Instructions on how to carry out mass deportations were prepared in the autumn of 1939 for the newly-annexed regions of western Ukraine by the head of the Ukrainian SSR NKVD “later known as KGB”, General Ivan Serov. They were approved in Moscow and later used in the Baltic States as well.  As the USSR Commissar for State Security, Serov signed the orders on the 21st of January 1941. 
 
       
                                                                                                                 Torņakalns Railway Station sight of the 13th 14th of June 1941 and the 25th of March 1949
 
In the night between the 13th and 14th of June, about 15,500 Latvian residents among them 2400 children younger than ten were arrested without a court order to be deported to distant regions in the Soviet Union. Targeted were mainly families who had members in leading positions in state and local governments, economy and culture.
 
People to be deported were awakened in the night and given less than one hour to prepare for the journey. They were allowed to take with them only what they could carry, and everything left behind was confiscated by the state. The unfortunate were herded into already prepared cattle or freight railroad cars, in which they spent weeks and months. Many died on the way, especially infants, the sick, and the elderly. Men, totaling some 8250, were separated from their families, arrested, and sent to GULAG hard labor camps. Women and children were taken to so-called “administrative settlements” as family members of “enemies of the people”. 
 
       
                                                                                                                   Skirotava Railway Station sight of the 13th 14th of June 1941 and the 25th of March 1949
 
No word of these events was mentioned in Latvia’s Soviet-censored newspapers. Loved ones had no way of knowing what had become of those deported. None of the institutions which including the militia provided information or help. Scattered along the railroad tracks were farewell notes written by the deported to their families few of them ever reached their intended recipients.
 
Conditions in the hard labor camps were inhumane. The inmates lost their identities, and were terrorized by the guards and criminal prisoners. Food rations were meager, and did not replace the calories expended through work. People grew weak, and were crippled by diarrhea, scurvy, and other illnesses. Winters were marked by unbearable cold, and many did not survive the first one. Only a small part of those deported in 1941 later returned to Latvia. The families in forced settlement had to fend for themselves in harsh conditions; the death rate among the very young and the elderly was likewise high.
 
Latvian Monument to the Victims of the Communist Terror 
 
25 March 1949 Riga Mass Deportations 
 
       
                                                                                                   Latvian Monument to the Victims of the Communist Terror from the Torņakalns Railway Station
 
Located in a grassy island area leading to the Torņakalns Railway Station is a monument made of five granite stones named “In the Snowstorm” symbolizing three generations of those who were so brutally arrested and deported during Stalin's Terror is dedicated to those Latvian people who were deported between the night of the 24th and the 25th of March and the 28th of March 1949. 
 
       
                                                                                 Latvian Monument to those Deported on the 13th 14th of June 1941 and the 25th of March 1949 from the Šķirotava Railway Station
 
This deportation of more than 42,000 people was carried out to end the resistance to collectivization of the farms and at the same time to get rid of the supporters of national partisans. This deportation was mainly directed against the farming population and entire families were sent to forced settlement areas for life. After Stalin’s death, many were eventually allowed to return, but they could not resume their previous lives and were treated as unreliable.
 
Skrunda, Latvia Monumentto those Deported on the nights of 13th and 14th of June 1941 and the 25th of March 1949 from the Skrunda Railway Station. 
 
       
                                                                                         Railway Freight Cartage used to deport Latvian citizens to "GULAG" Force Hard Labor Camps in the far Regions of Siberia
 
      
                                             Skrunda Railway Station 
 
       
                                                                                                                                                         Exhibits inside Railway Freight Cartage