This year the Baltic States commemorate the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the mass deportation of their residents by Stalin’s totalitarian regime.
In 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed the Baltic countries and in 1941 the mass deportations commenced and lasted until 1953, the year when Stalin died.
The deportations have left an indelible footprint in the history of the Baltic nations. There is hardly a family which has not been affected by the tragedy. Men and women, adults and children were driven from their homes. They were deprived not only of their livelihoods – they were deprived of their basic human rights, as they were transported and resettled under harsh conditions in Siberia deep within the Soviet Union. Many died of starvation and disease. A large proportion of people were never able to return to their homeland and those who did return suffered further persecutions.
We commemorate the deportations since we never want such tragedies to be repeated. Today we call for the continued research into the totalitarian regime and the raising of awareness throughout Europe, to develop and improve educational tools and activities, especially with young generations, on totalitarian history, human dignity, rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and tolerance.