The Latvian Minister (Bilmanis) to the Secretary of State 23

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my note dated February 17, 194424 in which I requested that the sovereign rights of Latvia be preserved in view of the possibility of the Red army crossing the Latvian border in pursuit of its war against Germany. Soviet forces have now actually entered Latvian territory without the Soviet Government having made any declaration that Latvian independence would be fully respected. To the contrary, in its official war communiqués and elsewhere the Soviet Government continues to regard Latvia, contrary to international law, as a part of the Soviet Union.

As a free agent and representative of the Latvian Nation I have repeatedly protested against this unprovoked act of aggression and international injustice. The United States and all other world powers, with the exception of Germany, have never recognized the annexation of Latvia by the Soviet Union.

From information recently received, it appears that Soviet institutions have already inaugurated a regime of reprisals and persecutions within newly occupied Lithuanian territory. There can be no doubt that a similar regime of terror exists in that part of Latvia occupied by the Red forces. Thus the Latvian people again face a repetition of the sufferings and persecutions to which they were subjected during the first occupation by Soviet Russia. The Latvian population, having been decimated during the war by famine and disease, now faces the prospect of many thousands more being killed or deported by the Soviet authorities because they had been forcibly mobilized by the Germans who also had established a regime of terror in Latvia.

In the name of the Latvian Nation I have the honor to appeal to the Government of the United States as co-signator of the Atlantic Charter, the Declaration by United Nations, the Declaration of Four Nations on General Security, and the Declaration of the Three Powers, signed at Teheran,25 to intercede with the Soviet Government so that the promises embodied in the above mentioned declarations be fully applied to the Latvian people.

Furthermore, I have the honor to request the good offices of the United States Government to see that the temporary military occupation of Latvia by the Red army proceed in accordance with the [Page 899] international law and rules of warfare and that the territory liberated from German occupation be placed under Inter-Allied military control until the establishment of a Latvian legal civil administration; that the Soviet military authorities do not interfere with the civil liberties of the local population; that no Soviet civil administration be imposed or promoted and that the representative democratic administration be restored under the supervision of the Inter-Allied Military Control Commission; that all constitutional laws and property rights existing prior to June 1940 be reinstated within the territory of Latvia; that no reprisals nor atrocities be applied against the inhabitants of Latvia and that all criminal prosecution be conducted in the regular courts of law in accordance with the penal code in force prior to June 1940; that Latvian citizens deported to the U.S.S.R. during the first occupation of Latvia in 1940–41 be released and permitted to return to their homes under the supervision of the International Red Cross; and that as soon as Latvia becomes liberated from German troops, the Red army leaves Latvia immediately.

As the duly authorized representative of Latvia I have the honor to state that the Latvian Nation is ready to establish neighborly and friendly relations with the Soviet Union on the basis of the Latvian-Soviet Peace Treaty of 192026 and of International Law. Latvia is also ready to cooperate to its full extent to maintain peace, security, law and order and to participate in a general international organization based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace loving states, as provided by Article 4 of the Declaration of Four Nations on General Security.

Accept [etc.]

Dr. Alfred Bilmanis
  1. Mr. Elbridge Durbrow of the Division of Eastern European Affairs, who received the Latvian Minister, gained the impression that “he presented the note for the record.”
  2. Not printed.
  3. Signed on December 1, 1943; for text, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, p. 640.
  4. Signed at Riga on August 11, 1920; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. ii, p. 195.