740.0011 European War 1939/3817: Telegram

The Minister in Latvia (Wiley) to the Secretary of State

126. This morning’s press published a Latvian telegraph agency version of the incident reported in my 125, June 15, 9 p.m.,31 as follows:

“At early dawn on Sunday32 the frontier post at Maslenki on the Latvian-Soviet border was found destroyed by fire. The corpses of two frontier guards and that of one woman were found on the spot as well as one woman and a 14-year-old boy seriously wounded. Moreover, 11 frontier guards and several local inhabitants have disappeared. A special commission of investigation headed by General Bolstein of the frontier general brigade has proceeded to the locality in order to investigate this sinister affair.[”]

In the Government organ Rits the foregoing statement was inconspicuously published on page 15.

The Latvia Telegraph Agency also replied to the Soviet allegation that shortly after the conclusion of the mutual aid pact between Lithuania and the U. S. S. R., Lithuania had become secretly allied to Latvia and Estonia converting the so-called Baltic Entente33 into a military pact directed against the Soviet Union.

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In the Rits this morning the Agency announced that it had been authorized to explain that Lithuania had not joined the Latvian-Estonian military alliance, concluded November 192334 and that no other military pact existed between the Baltic States.

The fact that the situation is grave in Latvia as well as Lithuania may be deduced from indications that the Ministry of War has been busily burning its confidential files for the last two days. Officials of the Government are inaccessible to the Diplomatic Corps and the only firsthand information from an authoritative source comes through the British Military Attaché who by chance encountered General Berkis, the Minister of War, at the entrance of his Ministry. The latter, though most reticent, admitted that there had been frontier incidents other than the one made public, that Soviet troops were massed on the Latvian frontier, and that new Soviet demands were expected.

The Swedish Military Attaché states that five antiaircraft batteries have been set up in Riga and that extra ammunition has been issued to the troops. The consensus, however, does not foresee Latvian opposition to Soviet forces should they occupy the country.

Please inform War Department. Repeated to Moscow.

  1. Not printed.
  2. June 15.
  3. Treaty of Good Understanding and Cooperation signed at Geneva by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on September 12, 1934; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cliv, p. 95.
  4. Signed at Tallinn on November 1, 1923; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xxiii, p. 83; it was supplemented by a new treaty signed at Riga on February 17, 1934, ibid., vol. cl, p. 105.