740.0011 European War 1939/3931: Telegram

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

134. The following are the principal highlights of the Soviet occupation of Riga yesterday: probably over 200 Soviet tanks came into the city. They looked like good, serviceable but old models. The enlisted men made good impression. Not much air force has been in evidence.

Popular manifestations of joy over the Soviet entry rapidly produced clashes between the Latvian police and the working class population. A few of the former were casualties and there was a fair amount of shooting around the city including many bursts of machine-gun fire. Rumors allege that there were some civilians killed and many wounded.

At 3 p.m. all communication with the outside world was suspended. The President spoke briefly [by] radio calling on the population to remain quiet. The Minister of the Interior42a proclaimed a curfew from 10 to 4 and forbade the population to assemble in groups of over four.

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The Foreign Minister was taken completely by surprise by the Soviet ultimatum, the German Legation also and still more curious was the Soviet Legation. The Soviet Minister, his wife and staff, were at their villa in the country and heard the news for the first time at 4 p.m. the 16th. They rushed to their dismantled residence in Riga without even a change of clothes and slept on sofas for the night.

This morning outside communications were restored and the city seems quiet and life normal. The former Government continues to function administratively and presumably pourparlers are going on with Soviet representatives for the formation of a new government.

There seems to be good cooperation between the Latvian Army and police and the Red Army.

  1. Kornelijs Veitmanis.