This volume analyzes the effects of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 on the Baltic States and Eastern Europe. This Nazi-Soviet non-aggression treaty catapulted into worldwide consciousness this summer as a 370-mile human Freedom chain denied its legitimacy. Stretching across Baltic nation-states, the chain's human links proclaimed the password Freedom. Secret protocols contained in this Treaty led to fifty years of Soviet occupation. In the atmosphere of glasnost and peristroika, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians now demand restoration of their human and national rights and decolonization. While the news media focuses upon these events, this volume details the historical causes of the Treaty, its contemporary consequences, and its present day challenge.
With the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia put aside their ideological difference and practiced expedient politics. Eastern Europe and the Baltic States were partitioned into German and Russian spheres of influence. This fifty year old pact continues to effect the Baltic States. It focuses our attention sharply on the consequences of secret deals made without regard to national and human rights. On the frontline of Soviet defense, the Baltic challenge to the Soviet Union has worldwide implications. After decades of denying their existence, the Soviet Union in August, 1989, finally admitted that the secret protocols of 1939 were an historical fact. However, they continued to deny that the protocols had any bearing on the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union. As of this writing, it seems evident that notwithstanding the era of glasnost, the Soviet government still lacks the determination to state the truth: that the incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania was an act of aggression, carried out against the will of sovereign peoples.
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IZIDORS VIZULIS, formerly professor of politics at Lewis University, is recipient of the Lasallian Award for Scholarly Achievements and author of Nations Under Duress--The Baltic States. Vizulis presently is a professor emeritus.
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