Estonia in World War II
Before the outbreak of the Second World War and the Soviet Union signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, concerning the partition and disposition of sovereign states, including Estonia, in particular its Secret Additional Protocol of August 1939. The Republic of Estonia declared neutrality in the war but fell under the Soviet sphere of influence due to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Mass political arrests and executions followed. In the Summer War during the German Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the pro-independence Forest Brothers captured South Estonia from the NKVD and the 8th Army before the arrival of the German 18th Army. At the same time, Soviet paramilitary destruction battalions carried out punitive operations, including looting and killing, based on the tactics of scorched earth proclaimed by Joseph Stalin. Estonia incorporated into Reichskommissariat Ostland. In 1941, Estonians were conscripted into the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps and in 1941–1944 to the Nazi German forces.
Men who avoided these mobilisations fled to Finland to be formed into the Finnish Infantry Regiment 200. About 40% of the Estonian pre-war fleet was requisitioned by British authorities and used in Atlantic convoys. 1000 Estonian sailors served in the British Merchant Navy, 200 of them as officers. A small number of Estonians served in the Royal Air Force, in the British Army and in the U. S. Army. From February to September 1944, the German army detachment "Narwa" held back the Soviet Estonian Operation. After breaching the defence of II Army Corps across the Emajõgi river and clashing with the pro-independence Estonian troops, Soviet forces reoccupied mainland Estonia in September 1944. After the war, Estonia remained incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Estonian SSR until 1991, although the Atlantic Charter stated that no territorial arrangements would be made. World War II losses in Estonia, estimated at around 25% of the population, were among the highest proportion in Europe. War and occupation deaths listed in the current reports total at 81,000.
These include deaths in Soviet deportations in 1941, Soviet executions, German deportations, victims of the Holocaust in Estonia. Before World War II, the Republic of Estonia and the USSR had signed and ratified the following treaties: August 27, 1928, Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war as an instrument of national policy Ratified by Estonia and USSR on July 24, 1929 With USSR on May 4, 1932. On July 3, 1933, for the first time in the history of international relations, aggression was defined in a binding treaty signed at the Soviet Embassy in London by the USSR and among others, The Republic of Estonia. Article II defines forms of aggression. There shall be recognized as an aggressor that State which shall be the first to have committed one of the following actions:Relevant chapters:Second – invasion by armed forces of the territory of another State without a declaration of war. Fourth – a naval blockade of coasts or ports of another State. Estonia and Lithuania jointly declared their neutrality on November 18, 1938, in Riga, at the Conference of Baltic Foreign Ministers with their respective parliaments passing neutrality laws that year.
Estonia passed a law ratifying its neutrality on December 1st, 1938, modelled on Sweden's declaration of neutrality of May 29, 1938. Estonia had asserted its neutrality in its first constitution, as well as the Treaty of Tartu concluded in 1920 between Republic of Estonia and the Russian SFSR. Early on the morning of August 24, 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a 10-year non-aggression pact, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact. Most notably, the pact contained a secret protocol, revealed only after Germany's defeat in 1945, according to which the states of Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into German and Soviet "spheres of influence". In the north, Finland and Latvia were assigned to the Soviet sphere. Poland was to be partitioned in the event of its "political rearrangement"—the areas east of the Narev and San Rivers going to the Soviet Union while Germany would occupy the west. Lithuania, adjacent to East Prussia, would be in the German sphere of influence, although a second secret protocol agreed in September 1939 assigned the majority of Lithuania to the USSR.
World War II began with the invasion of an important regional ally of Estonia, by Germany. Although some coordination existed between Germany and the USSR early in the war, the Soviet Union communicated to Nazi Germany its decision to launch its own invasion seventeen days after Germany's invasion, as a result, in part, of the unforeseen rapidity of the Polish military collapse. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded its part of Poland under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. September 3, Great Britain, France and New Zealand declare war on Germany. September 14, the Polish submarine ORP Orzeł reached Estonia. On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded its part of Poland under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact's secret protocol. During this invasion, a close coordination of German and Soviet military activity took place. September 18, Orzeł incident. On September 24, 1939, with the fall of Poland to Nazi Germany and the USSR imminent and in light of the Orzeł incident, the Moscow press and radio started violently attacking Estonia as "hostile" to the Soviet Union.
Warships of the Red Navy appeared off Estonian ports, Soviet bombers began a threatening patrol over Tallinn and the nearby countryside. Moscow demanded that Estonia allow the USSR to establish military base
Duchy of Estonia (1219–1346)
The Duchy of Estonia known as Danish Estonia, was a direct dominion of the King of Denmark from 1219 until 1346 when it was sold to the Teutonic Order and became part of the Ordensstaat. Denmark rose as a great mercantile power in the 12th century, it had an interest to end the frequent Estonian attacks. Danish fleets attacked Estonia in 1170, 1194, 1197. In 1206, King Valdemar II and archbishop Andreas Sunonis led a raid on Ösel island; the Kings of Denmark laid a claim on Estonia as their possession, recognised by the pope. In 1219 the Danish fleet landed in the major harbor of Estonia and defeated the Estonians in the Battle of Lindanise that brought Northern Estonia under Danish reign until the Estonian uprising in 1343, when the territories were taken over by the Teutonic Order and sold by Denmark in 1346. During the Livonian crusade in 1218, Pope Honorius III gave Valdemar II a free hand to annex as much land as he could conquer in Estonia. In addition, Albert of Riga, the leader of the Teutonic crusaders fighting the Estonians from the south, visited the king and asked him to attack the Estonians from the North.
In 1219, Valdemar gathered his fleet, joined forces with the Rugian navy led by prince Wizlav of Rügen, landed on the northern coast of Estonia in the Lindanise harbor in the Estonian province of Revala. According to the legend, the national flag of Denmark Dannebrog was born at this time, falling from the sky during a critical moment in the fight and helping the Danes to win the Battle of Lindanise against the Estonians; the date of the battle, June 15, is still celebrated as Valdemarsdag in present-day Denmark. The order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword had conquered Southern Estonia whilst Denmark had taken the North, the two agreed to divide Estonia, but quarreled over the exact borders. In 1220 the King of Denmark gave up his claim on the southern Estonian provinces of Sakala and Ugaunia, conquered by Brothers of the Sword. Bishop Albert ceded to Denmark the Estonian provinces of Harria and Jerwia. In 1227 the Livonian Brothers of the Sword conquered all Danish territories in Northern Estonia.
After their defeat in the Battle of Saule, the surviving members of the order merged into the Teutonic Order of Prussia in 1237. On June 7, 1238, the Teutonic Order concluded the Treaty of Stensby at a royal fortress in the south of Zealand with the Danish king, Valdemar II. Under the treaty, Jerwia stayed part of the Ordenstaat, while Harria and Vironia were ceded back to King of Denmark as his direct dominion, the Duchy of Estonia; the first Duke of Estonia had been appointed by Valdemar II in 1220, the title was now resumed by the kings of Denmark starting in 1269. Due to its status as the king's personal possession, the Duchy of Estonia was included in a nationwide Danish taxation list Liber Census Daniæ, an important geographic and historic document; the list contains the names of 114 local vassals. The capital of Danish Estonia was Reval, founded at the place of Lindanise after the invasion of 1219; the Danes built the fortress of Castrum Danorum at Toompea Hill. Estonians still call their capital "Tallinn", according to an urban legend, derives from Taani linna.
Reval joined the Hanseatic League. Today, Danish influence can be seen in heraldic symbols: the city of Tallinn's coat of arms features the Danish cross, while Estonia's coat of arms depicts a similar three lions to the Danish coat of arms. In 1240 Valdemar II created the Bishopric of Reval but, contrary to canon law, reserved the right to appoint the bishops of Reval to himself and his successors as king of Denmark; the decision to nominate the See of Reval was unique in the whole Catholic Church at the time and was disputed by bishops and the Pope. During this period, the election of bishops was never established in Reval, royal rights over the bishopric and to nominate the bishops were included in the treaty when the territories were sold to Teutonic Order in 1346. First mentioned in 1240, the duchy was locally governed by a viceroy appointed by the king and functioning as his plenipotentiary; the viceroy had administrative powers, he collected the taxes, he commanded the vassals and the troops in case of war.
Most of the viceroys were either of Danish-Estonian nationality. In Vironia, the main power centers were Wesenberg and Narva, built on the site of the old Estonian fortresses of Rakovor and Rugodiv. Wesenberg was granted Lübeck city rights in 1302 by King Erik Menved. Narva received these rights in 1345; the vassals of the Danish king received fiefs per dominum utile in exchange for military and court services. The vassals' oath to a new king had to be sworn for a "year and a day". Of the vassals, 80% were Germans from Westphalia, 18% were Danes, 2% were Estonians; the chronicler Ditleb Alnpeke complained that the king of Denmark was accepting Estonians as his vassals. Danish rule was more liberal in this respect than that of the Brothers of the Sword, in whose territories no natives were allowed to become lords of fiefs. In 1248, the vassals and burgers of Reval had a local legislative body or ritterschaft; the Danish army only visited the province occasionally. In 1240–42, Denmark went to war against Novgorod and tried to extend its rule to the land of Votians.
King Valdemar sent his sons Abel and Canute to support his vassals' campaign, but they did not win any new territo
Foreign relations of Estonia
The Republic of Estonia gained its independence from the Russian Empire on 24 February 1918 and established diplomatic relations with many countries via membership of the League of Nations. The forcible incorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union in 1940 was not recognised by the international community and the Estonian diplomatic service continued to operate in some countries. Following the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union, Russia was one of the first nations to re-recognize Estonia's independence. Estonia's immediate priority after regaining its independence was the withdrawal of Russian forces from Estonian territory. In August 1994, this was completed. However, relations with Moscow have remained strained because Russia decided not to ratify the border treaty it had signed with Estonia in 1999. Since regaining independence, Estonia has pursued a foreign policy of close cooperation with Western European nations; the two most important policy objectives in this regard have been accession into NATO and the European Union, achieved in March and May 2004 respectively.
Estonia's international realignment toward the West has been accompanied by a general deterioration in relations with Russia, most demonstrated by the controversy surrounding relocation of the Bronze Soldier WWII memorial in Tallinn. Estonia has become an strong supporter of deepening European integration; the decision to participate in the preparation of a financial transaction tax in 2012 reflects this shift in Estonia’s EU policy. An important element in Estonia's post-independence reorientation has been closer ties with the Nordic countries Finland and Sweden. Indeed, Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people due to being Finno-Ugric people like the Finns rather than Balts, based on their historical ties with Denmark and Finland and Sweden. In December 1999 Estonian foreign minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivered a speech entitled "Estonia as a Nordic Country" to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs. In 2003, the foreign ministry hosted an exhibit called "Estonia: Nordic with a Twist".
And in 2005, Estonia joined the European Union's Nordic Battle Group. It has shown continued interest in becoming a full member in the Nordic Council. Whereas in 1992 Russia accounted for 92% of Estonia's international trade, today there is extensive economic interdependence between Estonia and its Nordic neighbors: three quarters of foreign investment in Estonia originates in the Nordic countries, to which Estonia sends 42% of its exports. On the other hand, the Estonian political system, its flat rate of income tax, its non-welfare-state model distinguish it from the other Nordic states, indeed from many other European countries. Estonia is a party to 181 international organizations, including the BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, ITUC, NATO, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Estonia had hoped for the return of more than 2,000 square kilometers of territory annexed to Russia after World War II in 1945.
The annexed land had been within the borders Estonia approved by Russia in the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty. However, the Boris Yeltsin government disavowed any responsibility for acts committed by the Soviet Union. After signing the border treaty by the corresponding foreign minister in 2005, it was ratified by the Estonian government and president; the Russian side interpreted the preamble as giving Estonia a possibility for future territorial claim, Vladimir Putin notified Estonia that Russia will not consider these. Negotiations were reopened in 2012 and the Treaty was signed in February 2014. Ratification is still pending. Estonia established diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan on 27 May 1992. Estonia is represented in Kazakhstan through its embassy in Moscow. Kazakhstan is represented in Estonia through its embassy in Vilnius. Uruguay was among the countries that refused to recognize the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries. Uruguay re-recognised Estonia’s independence on 28 August 1991. Estonia and Uruguay established diplomatic relations on 30 September 1992.
Estonia is represented in Uruguay through an honorary consulate in Montevideo. Uruguay is represented in Estonia through its embassy in Helsinki and an honorary consulate in Tallinn. Through diplomatic cooperation with Latvia, Estonia opened an embassy in Cairo, Egypt in March 2010 as settled in an agreement signed by Estonian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Marten Kokk and the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia Kārlis Eihenbaums on 5 January; as of February 2012, Estonia has not established diplomatic relations with three countries: North Korea and Myanmar. Foreign minister Urmas Paet has indicated that after the 2011–2012 Burmese political reforms Estonia is reconsidering its stance in regard to the government in Myanmar and is now considering establishing formal diplomatic relations. List of diplomatic missions in Estonia List of diplomatic missions of Estonia List of ambassadors to Estonia Visa requirements for Estonian citizens
Estonian national awakening
The Estonian Age of Awakening is a period in history where Estonians came to acknowledge themselves as a nation deserving the right to govern themselves. This period is considered to begin in the 1850s with greater rights being granted to commoners and to end with the declaration of the Republic of Estonia in 1918; the term is sometimes applied to the period around 1987 and 1988. Although Estonian national consciousness spread in the course of the 19th century, some degree of ethnic awareness in the literate middle class preceded this development. By the 18th century the self-denomination eestlane along with the older maarahvas spread among Estonians in the provinces of Estonia and Livonia of the Russian Empire; the Bible was translated in 1739, the number of books and brochures published in Estonian increased from 18 in the 1750s to 54 in the 1790s. By the end of the century more than half of adult peasants were able to read; the first university-educated intellectuals identifying themselves as Estonians, including Friedrich Robert Faehlmann, Kristjan Jaak Peterson and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, came to prominence in the 1820s.
The ruling elite had remained predominantly German in language and culture since the conquest of the early 13th century. Garlieb Merkel, a Baltic German Estophile, was the first author to treat the Estonians as a nationality equal to others. However, in the middle of the century the Estonians, with such leaders as Carl Robert Jakobson, Jakob Hurt and Johann Voldemar Jannsen, became more ambitious in their political demands and started leaning towards the Finns as a successful model of national movement and, to some extent, the neighbouring Young Latvian national movement. Significant accomplishments were the publication of the national epic, Kalevipoeg, in 1862, the organization of the first national song festival in 1869. By the end of the 1860s the Estonians became unwilling to remain reconciled with German cultural and political hegemony. Before the attempts at Russification in the 1880s–1890s their view of Imperial Russia remained positive. In 1881 seventeen Estonian societies, in a memorandum inspired by Carl Robert Jakobson, called upon Emperor Alexander III of Russia for the introduction of zemstvo institutions, with equal representation for Estonians and Baltic Germans and administrative unification of the ethnic Estonian areas.
Postimees, the first Estonian daily, began appearing in 1891. According to the 1897 census, the Estonians had the second highest literacy rate in the Russian Empire after the Finns in the Grand Duchy of Finland; the cities became Estonicized and in 1897 ethnic Estonians comprised two-thirds of the total Estonian urban population. In response to a period of Russification initiated by the Russian empire in the 1880s, Estonian nationalism took on more political tones, with intellectuals calling for greater autonomy; as the Russian Revolution of 1905 swept through Estonia, the Estonians called for freedom of the press and assembly, for universal franchise, for national autonomy. Estonian gains were minimal, but the tense stability that prevailed between 1905 and 1917 allowed Estonians to advance the aspiration of national statehood. Following the February Revolution of 1917 Estonian lands were for the first time united in one administrative unit, the autonomous Governorate of Estonia. After the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia in the October Revolution of 1917 and the German victories against the Russian army, Estonia declared itself an independent republic on 24 February 1918.
Estophilia, a Baltic German movement that led to and promoted the Estonian national awakening The First Latvian National Awakening Lithuanian national awakening Petersoo, Pille. Reconsidering otherness: Constructing Estonian identity. Nations and Nationalism 13.1, 117–133. Raun, Toivo U.. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Estonian nationalism revisited. Nations and Nationalism 9.1, 129–147. Raun, Toivo U.. The Latvian and Estonian national movements, 1860–1914; the Slavonic and East European Review 64.1, 66–80. Piirimäe, Helmut. Historical heritage: the relations between Estonia and her Nordic neighbors. In M. Lauristin et al. Return to the Western world: Cultural and political perspectives on the Estonian post-communist transition. Tartu: Tartu University Press, 1997. ISBN 9985-56-257-7 Nodel, Emanuel. Estonia: Nation on the Anvil. N. Y.: Bookman Associates, 1963. Raun, Toivo U. Estonia and the Estonians. 2nd ed. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8179-9131-X The History of the Baltic States – The Estonian Awakening 1850–1918.
The Baltic Germans are ethnic German inhabitants of the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, in what today are Estonia and Latvia. Since their expulsion from Estonia and Latvia and resettlement during the upheavals and aftermath of the Second World War, Baltic Germans have markedly declined as a geographically determined ethnic group; the largest groups of present-day descendants of the Baltic Germans are found in Canada. It is estimated that several thousand still reside in Estonia. For centuries Baltic Germans and the Baltic nobility constituted a ruling class over native non-German serfs; the emerging Baltic-German middle class was urban and professional. In the 12th and 13th centuries Catholic Germans, both traders and crusaders, began settling in the eastern Baltic territories. After the Livonian Crusade, they assumed control of government, economics and culture of these lands, ruling for more than 700 years until 1918 — in alliance with Polish, Swedish or Russian overlords. With the decline of Latin, German became the language of all official documents, commerce and government.
At first the majority of German settlers lived in military castles. Their elite formed the Baltic nobility, acquiring large rural estates and comprising the social, commercial and cultural elite of Latvia and Estonia for several centuries. After 1710 many of these men took high positions in the military and civilian life of the Russian Empire in Saint Petersburg. Baltic Germans held citizenship in the Russian Empire until the Revolution of 1918, they held Estonian or Latvian citizenship until the occupation and annexation of these areas by the Soviet Union in 1939–1940. The Baltic German population never surpassed more than 10% of the total population. In 1881 there were 180,000 Baltic Germans in Russia's Baltic provinces, but by 1914 this number had declined to 162,000. In 1881 there were 46,700 Germans in Estonia. According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897, there were 120,191 Germans in Latvia, or 6.2% of the population. Baltic German history and presence in the Baltics came to an end in late 1939, following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the subsequent Nazi–Soviet population transfers.
All the Baltic Germans were resettled by Nazi Germany under the Heim ins Reich program into the newly formed Reichsgaue of Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia. In 1945, most ethnic Germans were expelled from these lands by the Soviet army. Resettlement was planned for the territory remaining to Germany under terms of the border changes promulgated at the Potsdam Conference, i.e. west of the Oder–Neisse line, or elsewhere in the world. Ethnic Germans from East Prussia and Lithuania are sometimes incorrectly considered Baltic Germans for reasons of cultural and historical affinities, but the Germans of East Prussia held Prussian, after 1871, German citizenship, because the territory they lived in was part of the Kingdom of Prussia. Baltic Germans were not a purely German ethnic group; the early crusaders and craftsmen married local women, as there were no German women available. Some noble families, such as the Lievens, claimed descent through such women from native chieftains. Many of the German Livonian Order soldiers died during the Livonian War.
New German arrivals came to the area. During this time the Low German of the original settlers was replaced by the High German of the new settlers. In the course of their 700-year history, Baltic German families had ethnic German roots, but had extensive intermarriage with Estonians and Latvians, as well as with other Northern or Central European people, such as Danes, Irish, Scots, Poles and Dutch. In cases where intermarriage occurred, members of the other ethnic groups assimilated into German culture, adopting language and German family names, they were considered Germans, leading to the ethnogenesis of the Baltic Germans. Barclay de Tolly and George Armitstead, who emigrated from the British Isles, married into and became part of the Baltic-German community. Baltic German settlements in the Baltic area consisted of the following territories: Estland the northern half of present-day Estonia. Livland the southern half of present-day Estonia and the northern and eastern part of today's Latvia.
Kurland the western half of present-day Latvia. Ösel belonging to present-day Estonia. Small numbers of Ethnic Germans began to settle in the area in the late 12th century when traders and Christian missionaries began to visit the coastal lands inhabited by tribes who spoke Finnic and Baltic languages. Systematic conquest and settlement of these lands was completed during the Northern Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries which resulted in creation of the Terra Mariana confederation, under the protection of Roman Popes and Holy Roman Empire. After the heavy defeat in the 1236 Battle of Saule the Livonian Brothers of the Sword became a part of
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in Northern and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmark–Norway and Augustus II the Strong of Saxony–Poland–Lithuania. Frederick IV and Augustus II were defeated by Sweden, under Charles XII, forced out of the alliance in 1700 and 1706 but rejoined it in 1709 after the defeat of Charles XII at the Battle of Poltava. George I of Great Britain and of Brunswick-Lüneburg joined the coalition in 1714 for Hanover and in 1717 for Britain, Frederick William I of Brandenburg-Prussia joined it in 1715. Charles XII led the Swedish army. Swedish allies included Holstein-Gottorp, several Polish magnates under Stanisław I Leszczyński and Cossacks under the Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa; the Ottoman Empire temporarily hosted Charles XII of Sweden and intervened against Peter I. The war began when an alliance of Denmark–Norway, Saxony and Russia, sensing an opportunity as Sweden was ruled by the young Charles XII, declared war on the Swedish Empire and launched a threefold attack on Swedish Holstein-Gottorp, Swedish Livonia, Swedish Ingria.
Sweden parried the Danish and Russian attacks at Travendal and Narva and in a counter-offensive pushed Augustus II's forces through the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth to Saxony, dethroning Augustus on the way and forcing him to acknowledge defeat in the Treaty of Altranstädt. The treaty secured the extradition and execution of Johann Reinhold Patkul, architect of the alliance seven years earlier. Meanwhile, the forces of Peter I had recovered from defeat at Narva and gained ground in Sweden's Baltic provinces, where they cemented Russian access to the Baltic Sea by founding Saint Petersburg in 1703. Charles XII moved from Saxony into Russia to confront Peter, but the campaign ended in 1709 with the destruction of the main Swedish army at the decisive Battle of Poltava and Charles' exile in the Ottoman town of Bender; the Ottoman Empire defeated the Russian-Moldavian army in the Pruth River Campaign, but that peace treaty was in the end without great consequence to Russia's position. After Poltava, the anti-Swedish coalition revived and subsequently Hanover and Prussia joined it.
The remaining Swedish forces in plague-stricken areas south and east of the Baltic Sea were evicted, with the last city, falling in 1710. The coalition members partitioned most of the Swedish dominions among themselves, destroying the Swedish dominium maris baltici. Sweden proper was invaded from the west by Denmark–Norway and from the east by Russia, which had occupied Finland by 1714. Sweden defeated the Danish invaders at the Battle of Helsingborg. Charles XII opened up a Norwegian front but was killed in Fredriksten in 1718; the war ended with the defeat of Sweden, leaving Russia as the new dominant power in the Baltic region and as a new major force in European politics. The Western powers, Great Britain and France, became caught up in the separate War of the Spanish Succession, which broke out over the Bourbon Philip of Anjou's succession to the Spanish throne and a possible joining of France and Spain; the formal conclusion of the Great Northern War came with the Swedish-Hanoverian and Swedish-Prussian Treaties of Stockholm, the Dano-Swedish Treaty of Frederiksborg, the Russo-Swedish Treaty of Nystad.
By these treaties Sweden ceded her exemption from the Sound Dues and lost the Baltic provinces and the southern part of Swedish Pomerania. The peace treaties ended her alliance with Holstein-Gottorp. Hanover gained Bremen-Verden, Brandenburg-Prussia incorporated the Oder estuary, Russia secured the Baltic Provinces, Denmark strengthened her position in Schleswig-Holstein. In Sweden, the absolute monarchy had come to an end with the death of Charles XII, Sweden's Age of Liberty began. Between the years of 1560 and 1658, Sweden created a Baltic empire centred on the Gulf of Finland and comprising the provinces of Karelia, Ingria and Livonia. During the Thirty Years' War Sweden gained tracts in Germany as well, including Western Pomerania, the Duchy of Bremen, Verden. During the same period Sweden conquered Norwegian provinces north of the Sound; these victories may be ascribed to a well-trained army, which despite its comparatively small size, was far more professional than most continental armies, to a modernization of administration in the course of the 17th century, which enabled the monarchy to harness the resources of the country and its empire in an effective way.
Fighting in the field, the Swedish army was able, in particular, to make quick, sustained marches across large tracts of land and to maintain a high rate of small arms fire due to proficient military drill. However, the Swedish state proved unable to support and maintain its army in a prolonged war. Campaigns on the continent had been proposed on the basis that the army would be financially self-supporting through plunder and taxation of newly gained land, a concept shared by most major powers of the period; the cost of the warfare proved to be much higher than the occupied countries could fund, Sweden's coffers, resources in manpower, were drained in the course of long conflicts. The foreign interventions in Russia during the Time of Troubles resulted in Swedish gains in the Treaty of
Occupation of the Baltic states
The occupation of the Baltic states involved the military occupation of the three Baltic states—Estonia and Lithuania—by the Soviet Union under the auspices of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in June 1940. They were incorporated into the Soviet Union as constituent republics in August 1940, though most Western powers never recognised their incorporation. On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and within weeks occupied the Baltic territories. In July 1941, the Third Reich incorporated the Baltic territory into its Reichskommissariat Ostland; as a result of the Red Army's Baltic Offensive of 1944, the Soviet Union recaptured most of the Baltic states and trapped the remaining German forces in the Courland pocket until their formal surrender in May 1945. The Soviet "annexation occupation" or occupation sui generis of the Baltic states lasted until August 1991, when the three countries regained their independence; the Baltic states themselves, the United States and its courts of law, the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council have all stated that these three countries were invaded and illegally incorporated into the Soviet Union under provisions of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
There followed occupation by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944 and again occupation by the Soviet Union from 1944 to 1991. This policy of non-recognition has given rise to the principle of legal continuity of the Baltic states, which holds that de jure, or as a matter of law, the Baltic states had remained independent states under illegal occupation throughout the period from 1940 to 1991. In its reassessment of Soviet history that began during perestroika in 1989, the Soviet Union condemned the 1939 secret protocol between Germany and itself. However, the Soviet Union never formally acknowledged its presence in the Baltics as an occupation or that it annexed these states and considered the Estonian and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics as three of its constituent republics. On the other hand, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic recognized in 1991 the events of 1940 as "annexation". Nationalist-patriotic Russian historiography and school textbooks continue to maintain that the Baltic states voluntarily joined the Soviet Union after their peoples all carried out socialist revolutions independent of Soviet influence.
The post-Soviet government of the Russian Federation and its state officials insist that incorporation of the Baltic states was in accordance with international law and gained de jure recognition by the agreements made in the February 1945 Yalta and the July–August 1945 Potsdam conferences and by the 1975 Helsinki Accords, which declared the inviolability of existing frontiers). However, Russia agreed to Europe's demand to "assist persons deported from the occupied Baltic states" upon joining the Council of Europe in 1996. Additionally, when the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic signed a separate treaty with Lithuania in 1991, it acknowledged that the 1940 annexation as a violation of Lithuanian sovereignty and recognised the de jure continuity of the Lithuanian state. Most Western governments maintained that Baltic sovereignty had not been legitimately overridden and thus continued to recognise the Baltic states as sovereign political entities represented by the legations—appointed by the pre-1940 Baltic states—which functioned in Washington and elsewhere.
The Baltic states recovered de facto independence in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Russia started to withdraw its troops from the Baltics in August 1993; the full withdrawal of troops deployed by Moscow ended in August 1994. Russia ended its military presence in the Baltics in August 1998 by decommissioning the Skrunda-1 radar station in Latvia; the dismantled installations were repatriated to Russia and the site returned to Latvian control, with the last Russian soldier leaving Baltic soil in October 1999. Early in the morning of August 24, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a ten-year non-aggression pact, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact; the pact contained a secret protocol by which the states of Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into German and Soviet "spheres of influence". In the north, Finland and Latvia were assigned to the Soviet sphere. Poland was to be partitioned in the event of its "political rearrangement"—the areas east of the Narev and San Rivers going to the Soviet Union while Germany would occupy the west.
Lithuania, adjacent to East Prussia, would be in the German sphere of influence, although a second secret protocol agreed in September 1939 assigned the majority of Lithuanian territory to the Soviet Union. According to this secret protocol, Lithuania would regain its historical capital Vilnius subjugated during the inter-war period by Poland. Following the end of Soviet invasion of Poland on 6 October, the Soviets pressured Finland and the Baltic states to conclude mutual assistance treaties; the Soviets questioned the neutrality of Estonia after the escape of an interned Polish submarine on 18 September. A week on 24 September, the Estonian foreign minister was given an ultimatum in Moscow; the Soviets demanded the conclusion of a treaty of mutual assistance to establish military bases in Estonia. The Estonians had no choice but to accept naval and army bases on two Estonian islands and at the port of Paldiski; the corresponding agreement was signed on 28 September 1939. Latvia followed on 5 October 1939 and Lithuania shortly thereafter, on 10 October 1939.
The agreements permitted the Soviet Union to establish military bases on the Baltic states' territory for the duration of the European war and to station 25,000 Soviet soldiers in Estonia, 30,000 in