" The peoples of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are facing total extinction. . . Unless the civilised world intervenes immediately, we fear there will remain no point in discussing an application of the noble principles of the Atlantic Charter and other solemn declarations by the United Nations to the peoples of the Baltic States, inasmuch as there will be no Baltic peoples left in their ancestral homelands."
These are the words of the American Committees for the Baltic States in an appeal issued
Cowards the end of last year.
Details of the sufferings of these free democratic peoples are given in the appeal.
We publish this information with the same caution as we have always given when publishing reports of atrocities and injustices from countries with which communications are difficult and reports passed from one person to another.
It states: The number of refugees from the Baltic States who had fled the terror in makeshift craft across the Baltic Sea — under strafing by German and Russian aircraft and speedboats— has considerably increased' and continues to mount as Soviet troops expand over the Baltic area. At this printing, all of Lithuania and Estonia are occupied by Soviet armies. only a small western tip of Latvia is still held by Nazi invaders. As is evident from the contents of the radiograms, the Germans are trying to prevent the escape of the terrified populace. Bulletins published by the Office of War Information tell of the sealing of the
German-Lithuanian frontier :o block
all escape to Lithuanians. Ghettos established by the Germans have been " liquidated " through executions of inmates.
Substitution of one terroristic regime by another may mean the final doom of the surviving population.
Detachments of troops of the People's Commissariat for State Security (N.KG.B., former 0.G.P.U.), of the Soviet Union are reported to have committed a series of massacres, viz., in Svyriai, Vilnius, Kaunas, Siauliai, Birzai, Utena, Ukmerge. etc., in Lithuania. Laudone and Kalsnava in Latvia. Women and children are being driven to Russia from the Baltic States.
Survivors of the two earlier ordeals received " questionnaires " with five questions : I. Why have you not retreated with the Soviet Army in 1941 ?
2. What employment have you pursued under the Germans ?
3. What anti-German sabotage have you done ?
4. Name three accomplices.
5. Name three collaborators of the Germans.
It is too obvious that these questionnaires are meant to provide justifica7 tiotrAn the eyes of the peoples spf the United Nations for the crimes now being committed by the Russians, and to doom the questioned people under their own signatures.
Under question l,„ every • survivor could easily be condemned for the " crime " of staying in his own home when the Red Army retreated in 1941, and is therefore thrown at the mercy of N.K.G.B. commanders.
Under question 2, a farmer tilling his own soil to provide food for his family—the food he was compelled to share through compulsory requisitions first with the Russians (1940-41), then with the Germans (194144)—and a factory hand earning a living for his family, can both be condemned for " collaboration with the enemy's war economy."
Qudstions 3 and 4 compel a patriot to betray his fellow-patriots.
Well-organised and effective underground liberation movements aiming at the restoration of independence of the Baltic States are known to have secretly functioned in these countries. At the same time. Russian agents were regularly parachuted into these countries to perform special tasks in pressing war against Germany. Russian agents, as well as missions entrusted to them, are, naturally, known to N.K.G.B. Consequently, any act of an independently conducted operation or sabotage betrays a patriotic connection with liberation movements deemed subversive from a Russian point of view. to wit, being directed at dissolution of a " union" of the Baltic States with
Soviet Russia, inasmuch as the Russian Government Continues to claim the Baltic States as allegedly forming an integral part of the Soviet Union.
The final question, 5. in view of the terror created by mass executions, opens the field for panicky and indiscriminate denunciations and provides an opportunity for personal vengeance on neighbours. This open invitation to denounce one's neighbours can only increase summary executions of innocent people without any legal process of local or international law.
Those of the men who are not summarily shot on the spot received coloured cards: red for military service in the Red Army, green for labour service, white for deportation to Russia.
ESCAPE TO GERMANY
One who realises the inhuman conditions under which people lived during the German occupation must be impressed by the fact that Si quarter of a million Lithuanian farmers and labourers arc reported to have succeeded in escaping into Germany before the Soviet onrush, to save their very lives I—and this in spite of the measures taken by the Germans on the Lithuanian-German frontier.
There can be no doubt that the treatment of innocent populations at the hands of the armed forces of secret police of one of our Allies it meted out aliki in all three of the Baltic States. Such treatment is, to say the least, incompatible with the principles of International Law governing the conduct of a military occupant, and poses a direct challenge to the attitude of the United Nations and to the war aims of our country..