Baltic Refugee Politicians, Organizations and Crimes Committed Against Humanity in the Context of the Cold War. The Example of Estonian Émigré Communities
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Baltic Refugee Politicians, Organizations and Crimes Committed Against Humanity in the Context of the Cold War. The Example of Estonian Émigré Communities
Publication type
Magnus Ilmjarv 
Affiliation: Tallinn University
Address: Estonia, Tallinn

The article examines the attitude of Baltic politicians in exile and émigré communities in the Western countries and in the USA to the question of the participation of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians in war crimes, crimes against humanity and the Holocaust during the German occupation of the Baltic in the period of the Second World War. The author focuses on Estonian communities and considers several major cases of the 1960s — 1980s involving the accusation of Estonians of collaboration with the Nazi German during the War. Attention is paid to the following aspects: what was the attitude of the Baltic refugee organizations that were founded in the West, and the attitude of the exiled Baltic politicians and former diplomatic representatives towards the crimes against humanity committed during the German occupation? What was the reaction of the Baltic refugee circles on such occasions, when Western countries intended to surrender or surrendered to the Soviet Union people of Baltic background who were accused of war crimes? What was the reaction of Baltic refugee circles on the conviction and punishment of war criminals of Baltic background in the Soviet Union? The author comes to the conclusion that in the conditions of the cold war and the confrontation of the two blocs, the investigation of war crimes was significantly hampered by mutual distrust and opposite ideological attitudes. The trials of war criminals which took place in the USSR and in the West had a serious impact on the émigré communities, their relations with the governments of the states that provided them with asylum and citizenship. They were often in a difficult position since the war crime trials in the Soviet Baltic Republics were related to the crimes that were committed, but beside the Soviet-type of distribution of justice they pursued certain political aims: to discredit the Baltic exile politicians who had found shelter in the Western countries, and the Baltic refuge organizations. So Baltic refugee organizations and exiled Baltic diplomats and politicians endeavored to negate the role of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian refugees in the crimes against humanity and to prevent extraditing them to the Soviet Union. Simultaneously Baltic refugee organizations and Baltic refugee politicians became a tool in the fight against Communism for U.S.A. and the Western countries during the Cold War. There were cases when people with a Baltic background, who were suspected of crimes against humanity by the Soviet Union, were involved in the organizations of national security and intelligence of the western countries.


Holocaust, war crimes, crimes against humanity, collaborationism, Baltic refugee politicians, Baltic Émigré communities in the West after World War II
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