The occupation of the Baltic states refers to the military occupation of the three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the Soviet Union in 1940 followed by their forcible illegal incorporation into the USSR

After having been conquered by the Danes, the Livonian Knights, the Teutonic Knights of Germany, the Poles, the Swedes and the Russians, the Baltic States declared themselves independent republics in 1918. 
In August 1940, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was illegally annexed by the Soviet Union as Soviet Socialist Republics. State administrators were liquidated and replaced by Soviet cadres. The repressions followed with mass deportations carried out by the Soviets. Many of the country's political and intellectual leaders were killed or deported to remote areas of the USSR by the Soviet authorities in 1940 – 1941. Repressive actions were also taken against thousands of ordinary people. 

When the German Operation Barbarossa started against the Soviet Union, tens of thousands of Balts were forcibly drafted into the Red Army. Political prisoners who could not be evacuated were murdered by the NKVD. The German Wehrmacht were perceived by most Balts as liberators from the USSR and its repression, and hopes were raised for the restoration of independence. The initial enthusiasm that accompanied the liberation from Soviet occupation quickly waned as the Baltics became part of the German-occupied "Reichskommissariat Ostland". Although many Balts were recruited into the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS the majority did so only in 1944 when the threat of a new invasion by the Soviet Red Army had become imminent. Hundreds of thousands Balts took refuge from the Soviet army by fleeing to Germany and Sweden. In all three countries, Baltic partisans, known colloquially as the Forest Brothers, Latvian national partisans, and Lithuanian partisans (1944 – 1953), waged unsuccessful guerrilla warfare against the Soviet occupation for the next eight years in a bid to regain their nations' independence.
After World War II mass deportations were concluded in the Baltic countries by the Soviet Union and the policy of encouraging Soviet immigration to the Baltic states continued and soon the ethnic Baltic population had fallen to 62  68%. More than 10% of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to Soviet labor camps. Half of the deported perished, the other half were not allowed to return until the early 1960s. Credit: Wikipedia. Image: Public domain.

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