Did Soviet Union liberate Lithuania and was it better than Nazi Germany? | True Lithuania
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Did Soviet Union liberate Lithuania and was it better than Nazi Germany?

The Soviet Union was just another foreign occupational regime for Lithuania and the Central/Eastern Europe. Moreover, the Soviet Union was worse than Nazi Germany on nearly all counts. It killed more people than Nazi Germany did both in Lithuania and Eastern Europe as a whole. It persecuted most local ethnic groups far more, banning many things that stayed unbanned during the Nazi occupation (such as the Lithuanian flag, for example). It was responsible for genocides of at least 14 nations and it Russified the entire Lithuania Minor region, killing some 300 thousand people in that region alone. During the Holodomor in Ukraine alone, more Ukrainians were killed (7+ million) than Jews during the entire Holocaust by Nazi Germany, for example.

The Soviet Union also had no legal right to Lithuania (see the "Lithuania was Russia" myth) and so in no way, its re-occupation of Lithuania in 1944 (when Soviets have recaptured Lithuania from Nazi Germany) could be seen as liberation legally either.

Statistics of people lost to Lithuania 1940-1959, both per event and per perpetrator. The tables are compiled consulting multiple sources (turmoil and subsequent propaganda made the exact figures impossible to find out, so approximations vary somewhat per source. Moreover the boundaries of Lithuania switched multiple times in the era). The per-event table lists the murdered and the refugees/deportees in separate rows where possible; where impossible they are put together and the approximate share of those killed is provided instead (most/many/some).

Why do some foreigners believe that Soviet Union has liberated Lithuania?

Firstly, while the Soviet Union was worse than Nazi Germany in "nearly all counts" and to most Central/Eastern European ethnicities, to some ethnicities the Soviet Union was actually a much better (or less evil) regime. Among such ethnicities were the Russians, whose culture and language had a privileged status in the Soviet Union. Among such ethnicities were the Jews, who suffered an ethnic genocide under Nazi Germany but not under the Soviet Union (where Jewish communists were generally accepted by their Russian peers by contemporary standards and were able to attain influence).

The historians and columnists from these ethnicities that were treated better by the Soviets than by Nazis often write on the matter from their own ethnic standpoint. They regard the Soviet invasion of Lithuania in 1944 to be liberation because it seemed to be a change for the better *for their own group* (yet a change to the worse for most others).

The "Soviet liberation of Lithuania" was also part of the official Soviet historiography that is still often followed in Russia. This historiography is/was written in such a way that Russia(ns) would be always shown in a positive light.

Throughout the entire Cold War, Lithuanians and other Central/Eastern European countries were effectively silenced, any real historic research banned in there (people declaring facts contradicting the official Soviet thought were even put into mental asylums). On the other hand, Soviet Union, even if mistrusted in the West, had an influence, while most surviving Jews have also remained in (or eventually moved to) that "free side of the Iron Curtain", allowing themselves to be heard in the free world.

The Lithuanian and Central European voices were limited to much smaller emigres, often targetted by the Soviet Union, and so they had only a limited role in writing the history of their own nations, making the notion that "The Soviet Union liberated Lithuania" sometimes still repeated by the Western media and historians, and the notion that "The Soviet Union was better than the Nazi Germany" even more common.

Why is the "Soviet liberation of Lithuania" myth so insulting to Lithuanians?

Both the "Soviet liberation of Lithuania" and "Soviet Union was better than Nazi Germany" claims are especially insulting to Lithuanians and other nations of the region, as they implicitly regard a Lithuanian, a Latvian or a Ukrainian life (more of which were lost due to the Soviet Union actions) to be less important than a Russian, a Jewish, a British or a French life (more of which were lost due to the Nazi German actions).

Moreover, any notion that "The Soviet Union has liberated Lithuania" is seen as dangerous in that it legitimizes the Soviet (and now Russian) control of the area, and whitewashes its presence in Lithuania. Because in order for the Soviet Union to liberate Lithuania in 1944, Lithuania must have been rightfully Soviet prior to the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation, so the claims that the Soviet Union liberated Lithuania automatically recognize the Soviet 1940-1941 occupation of Lithuania as legitimate, which it wasn't (see "Did Lithuania join the Soviet Union?" myth).

In Eastern Europe, World War 2 was not a two-sided conflict but at least three-sided conflict, and both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were invaders in Lithuania and other countries of the region (see "Lithuania supported the Nazi Germany during WW2" myth).

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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