The Keys ep41 The Baltic Germans
The Baltic Germans: they lived here for 700 years and vanished in one autumn
In 1939, 62 000 Baltic Germans lived in Latvia. They were the third largest minority after Russians and Jews. Economically – the most influential. Almost 50 000 left Latvia that autumn. Another 11 000 followed in the spring of 1941. Hitler had given the Baltics to Stalin, and was moving out his compatriots before the war and occupation. Stalin let him. And Latvians were keen to help. The relationships of Germans and Latvians had felt tense and unbalanced since the proclamation, but the sudden exodus was a shock to everyone. Saddened by the loss of their ethnic compatriots and in fear of Bolsheviks even those Baltic Germans who had loved Latvia, left.