West should make amends

  • 2000-07-06
  • By Memo Merlino
A new dialogue has started within the political leadership of
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, on the subject of justice and
reparations for the wrongs done to the three Baltic countries by the
former Soviet Union during the years 1939-1945 and beyond until the
collapse of it in 1991.

A historical prospective needs to be brought into focus. Communism is
an ideology that did not work economically, and for society in
general, for all the countries comprising the Soviet Union. Stalinism
was a cruel and repressive form of dictatorship, whose dictator,
Joseph Stalin, was a mass murderer, just as was his German
counterpart, Adolf Hitler.

The historical prospective that needs to be focused on is that
Britain, France and the United States chose what they thought as the
lesser of two evils, the Soviet Union, as their ally to defeat
Nazism. Britain at the time, in 1939, felt the threat of a powerful
Germany supplanting the UK as the dominant European power. This was
the main catalyst for the alliance with the Soviet Union, and little
consideration was given to the purges of the 1930s when 6 million
Ukrainians were starved to death while working on the land as slaves.
That an estimated 30,000 people died horribly at the hands of Stalin
was known among the Western powers. The Western powers were also
aware of the carnage going on in Germany and surrounding countries at
the hands of Hitler.

When the Baltic countries were taken over by the Soviet Union in
1939 following the pact with Germany, the Western powers did nothing.
In fact they tacitly allowed the Soviet Union to carry out atrocities
in these three small and defenseless countries. The Western powers
were more interested in the bigger picture, which was to pursue the
strategy to compel Germany to have a Western and an Eastern front to
deal with at the same time. Hitler, of course, did not see it coming,
and the rest is history.

The fact remains that the Western powers, as in a murder case, were
in complicity with the perpetrator, the Soviet Union, and therefore,
according to law, just as guilty.

In order to resolve the justice and reparation issue, the US, the UK,
France and Russia should now be made responsible for the crimes
committed by Stalin. The three Western countries should provide the
compensation to the victims and their descendants residing in the
three Baltic countries. Russia must be forced to track down the
individuals still alive and responsible for the atrocities committed
in the Baltic countries. Such individuals must be brought to justice,
as those Nazi perpetrators of the Jewish holocaust.

In addition, the United States, the UK and France should be asked to
erect, at their expense, a large monument in each of the three
Baltics to commemorate the suffering of these nations at the hands of
their ally, the Soviet Union, during the years 1939-1945.

Memo Merlino, now living in Latvia, is a freelance writer.