What Latvia Wishes From This War?Dr. Alfreds Bīlmanis, 1944

"What Latvia Wishes From This War" was written during World War II while Latvia was under its second (Nazi Germany) occupation. The irony and memory of Latvia's being occupied twice during World War I by both the Germans and Russians was still fresh in the minds of the Baltic peoples, who still held out for the restoration of their freedom.

The early promise of international organizations formed in the wake of WWI proved, ultimately, a disappointment. As Bīlmanis notes (referring to a speech by Roosevelt), these lacked any means for enforcement. And so, when the Soviet Union attacked Finland, the League of Nations expelled it for its aggresssion against another sovereign state, but that was all. And once Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, all of Stalin's trespasses against the peoples of Eastern Europe were quickly forgotten. Even influential journalists like Walter Lippmann could forsee a future where the Baltics rejoined Russia.

Bīlmanis proves all too precient in his analysis, forseeing the post-war fate of not only the Baltics:

On May 26, 1942, the U.S.S.R., in signing the alliance treaty with Great Britain, again promised non-aggrandizment and non-interference, but actually it maintains in Moscow the pro-Soviet puppet governments created for the Baltic countries, waiting for reinstatement and for continuing the interrupted bolshevization . . .

but of Eastern Europe pressed into Soviet servitude (our emphasis):

The mouthpiece of the Moscow rulers, the Moscow publication "War and Working Class" reveals (on June 19, 1943, as related by the Associated Press) that even a United States of Europe would be refused by the U.S.S.R. And in no case could an Eastern European Federation be created. Only the U.S.S.R. has a right to exist and endeavor to work for its security, which is conditioned by a complete subjugation of the small nations on Russia's western border. Thus between the German and Russian frontiers lie peoples subject to Soviet colonization.

Bīlmanis could not have anticipated the degree to which stated public policy was being rendered impotent by practiced private diplomacy. The Baltics and Eastern Europe had already been given over to Stalin even while its peoples still held out hope for freedom. This secret bifurcation sealed the fate of the Baltics and Eastern Europe—the 100,000,000 who survived the war would soon find themselves under Soviet rule for the next half century.


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"What Latvia Wishes From This War?" was published by the Latvian Legation, Washington, D.C. in 1944. We believe this publication to be a work of the Latvian government and accordingly in the public domain.

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