The Soviet Union’s mass deportations in the Baltic states, which resumed on 25 March 1949, were part of a larger campaign of forced population transfers that Stalin’s regime had been carrying out since the end of World War II. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had been occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, and after Germany’s invasion in 1941, the Soviets reoccupied them in 1944.
The deportations that took place in March 1949 were particularly brutal, targeting primarily women and children. Babies, pregnant women, and separated children were among those who were forcibly taken from their homes and loaded into cattle wagons for transportation to labor camps and exile in remote areas of the Soviet Union. The operation was carried out with great secrecy and efficiency, and the deportees were given little or no opportunity to gather their belongings or say goodbye to their loved ones.
The Soviet authorities justified the deportations on the grounds that they were necessary to suppress anti-Soviet resistance in the Baltic states, but in reality, they were part of a larger campaign of terror aimed at crushing any opposition to Soviet rule. The deportations were a traumatic event in the history of the Baltic states, and their legacy is still felt today, particularly in the form of the large diasporas of Baltic exiles and their descendants scattered around the world.