740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 526
Briefing Book Paper
top secret

Displaced Persons

Baltic Nationals

Article 1 of the Yalta Agreement1 provides that:

“All Soviet citizens liberated by the forces operating under United States command” … “will, without delay after their liberation, be separated from enemy prisoners of war and will be maintained separately from them in camps or points of concentration until they have been handed over to the Soviet” … “authorities” … “at places agreed upon. …”2

The United States Government has not recognized the Soviet Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,3 nor has it recognized Soviet action in respect to the territory of Poland east of the Curzon Line.4 The position of the United States has been that the Yalta Agreement applies only to persons who were recognized by the United States as Soviet citizens at the time of the Agreement. Consequently citizens of the three Baltic Republics are not considered Soviet citizens from the United States point of view, and have not been repatriated to the Soviet zone. It is possible therefore that the Soviet representatives at the conference may claim that Baltic nationals are Soviet citizens and should be repatriated by the United States forces. They may take the position that the Baltic Republics have by plebiscite [Page 795] joined the Soviet Union and consequently that citizens of these Republics now under control of United States forces in Germany should be repatriated to the Soviet Union. There are estimated to be 200,000 to 300,000 such Baltic nationals in the SHAEF area of Germany and Austria. However, they have not yet appeared in such numbers in SHAEF statistics of persons awaiting repatriation. In the SHAEF report of June 4, 1945,5 Baltic nationals are included in a miscellaneous group of Scandinavians, Bulgars, Greeks, Hungarians, Albanains, etc., which totals 62,000. It is possible that the Baltic nationals are avoiding identification for political reasons or larger numbers than expected may have been caught in the Russian zone of occupation.

At a conference early in June at Oslo, between representatives of the Soviet and Swedish Governments and the SHAEF mission to Norway,6 the 1939 borders of Russia were taken as the basis of determining what Russians in Norway should be compulsorily returned across Sweden to the Soviet Union. Poles coming from areas of Poland east of the Curzon Line and Baltic nationals were listed as “disputed persons” and not included in the arrangements for the repatriation of Soviet citizens from Norway. This conference may have brought United States policy with respect to the repatriation of Baltic nationals pointedly to the attention of Soviet authorities for the first time.

The Government of Sweden, which, it is understood, has already recognized the incorporation of the Baltic Republics into the Soviet Union, has faced the problem of repatriating some 30,000 Baltic nationals from Sweden. After months of discussion the decision has been to accept the offer of the Soviet Government of free transportation for such Baltic nationals and to urge their return. There has been no decision, however, to force the return of those unwilling to go.

The policy already in effect of refusing to arrange for the involuntary repatriation of Baltic nationals should be continued and supported at the conference, if the question is raised, on the grounds that the United States Government does not recognize Baltic nationals as Soviet citizens.

. . . . . . .

  1. i. e., the “Agreement Relating to Prisoners of War and Civilians Liberated by Forces Operating Under Soviet Command and Forces Operating Under United States of America Command”, signed at Yalta by Major General John R. Deane and Lieutenant General Anatoly Alexeyevich Gryzlov, February 11, 1945. For text, see Executive Agreement Series No. 505; 59 Stat. (2) 1874; Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 985.
  2. Ellipses in the source copy.
  3. The refusal of the United States Government to recognize the incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union as “Soviet Republics” was announced by Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles in a statement of July 23, 1940. See Department of State Bulletin, vol. iii, p. 48.
  4. See the map facing p. 748. For the origin and a description of the Curzon Line, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 793794.
  5. Not printed.
  6. See Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command (Washington, Department of the Army, 1954), pp. 510–511.