740.0011 European War 1939/18328: Telegram

The Minister in Finland ( Schoenfeld ) to the Secretary of State

19. The Finnish General Staff officer who is stationed at Riga for the purpose of obtaining food supplies for Finland informed Secretary of the Legation last night that the name of the Reichskommissar for “Ostland” is Lose.6 Under this officer there are general Kommissars for each of the three Baltic States with headquarters in Kaunas, Riga and Tallinn. Above the Reichskommissar for Ostland whose [Page 407] headquarters are in Riga stands Rosenberg7 who is the Supreme Chief of all the conquered Russian territories.

This same source confirms reports reaching us of extreme cruelty shown by the Germans to Russian prisoners of war. It seems to be a settled German policy to use the Russians as labor gangs until they are literally worked to death apparently on the theory that this policy will achieve concrete results in the form of work done and at the same time eliminate thousands of people who would otherwise have to be fed.

The same source states that on the whole opinion in the Baltic countries is pro-German if only for the reason that the German conquest of the three countries saved the populations from unimaginable persecution at the hands of the Russians.8 He said that in Riga alone 70,000 people had been killed or exiled. Food conditions in the Baltic States are good despite the fact that the German garrison makes considerable demands upon available supply. The daily meat ration in Latvia is 100 grams per person with 20 grams of butter.

Repeated to Stockholm.

  1. Heinrich Lohse.
  2. Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
  3. In a conversation with Minister Schoenfeld on January 12, 1942, reported in telegram No. 32 of the same day, the former Estonian Minister Varma expressed this feeling somewhat differently. He believed that the “Germans had tried for a thousand years without success to gain [the] sympathy of Baltic peoples, that Russians had taken only three months to win [the] sympathy of those peoples for Germans and that Lohse (German Commissioner) had destroyed this sympathy in two weeks.” (740.0011 European War 1939/18424)