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The secret protocol

MARTINA CARR: So the Nazi-Soviet pact was signed, together with its secret protocol, and what had been Poland in 1939 was divided between Germany and Poland. The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were also given to Stalin. Until recently the level of atrocities committed by the Soviets as a result of this pact were not known. Today we have documents, we have testimonies of people who participated in those events - how is all this viewed amongst Russian historians today?

KIRILL ANDERSON: The secret protocol which contained what in diplomacy is known as ‘the division of the spheres of interests’ wasn’t  well documented earlier but it was known – at least as far as the territories taken by the Soviet Union in 1939-1940 were concerned.

The document was kept in the Archive of the Politburo of the Communist party, it was kept amongst others highly secret documents. When it was declassified it confirmed that there was an agreement ‘to divide the sphere of interests’. However, both Stalin and Hitler operated in the frame of geopolitics – so the division of territories, division of sphere of interests is not surprising. Stalin never talked about geopolitics, but his geopolitical thinking was well developed, and it’s confirmed by what happened to Poland later on for example.

MARTINA CARR: And what about the level of atrocities that were committed by the Soviet forces after they took over territories of the Baltic states and Poland? How do the Russian historians view today what was happening in 1939-1940?

KIRILL ANDERSON: Well, it’s rather complicated question as a lot of things happened there at the time. I believe two volumes of documents are now published about Lithuania and Estonia and the Soviet Union in 1940 and a similar one is being finished about Latvia and the Soviet Union. And what was happening there - the scripts of the events were always very similar. First the Soviet army entered the foreign territory, based on ‘agreement about mutual cooperation between the Soviet Union and the other country.’ Then, the pro-Soviet activities were ‘organised’. Simultaneously, the local government was put under a lot of pressure and anti-Soviet elements were replaced by pro-Soviet ones.  The script was always the same. After the annexation of the territory there would be a purge: arrest, evacuation or execution of the representatives of national political parties, then police, counterintelligence and intelligence people,  then intelligentsia – that happened in all the countries annexed by the Soviets. Until recently all these operations of annexations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Western Belarus and Western Ukraine were known only based on individual testimonies, but now the documents are published so we have a good picture of what was happening at the time.