With the exception of Poland, no region or territory suffered more greatly during World War II than the Baltic States. Caught between the giants of the Soviet Union and the Third Reich, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia became pawns in the desperate battle for control of Eastern Europe throughout the course of World War II. This is a story of conquest and exploitation, of death and deportation and the fight for survival both by countries and individuals. The three states were repeatedly occupied -- by the Soviet Union in 1939, by Germany in 1941, and again by the Soviet Union in 1944-45. In each case, local government organizations and individuals were forced to choose between supporting the occupying forces or forming partisan units. Many would be caught up in the bitter fighting in the region and, in particular, in the huge battles for the Courland bridgehead during Operation Bagration when hundreds of thousands of soldiers would fight and die in the last year of the war. Over 300,000 Soviet troops would be lost during the repeated assaults on the 'Courland Cauldron' before 146,000 German and Latvia troops were finally forced to surrender. No mercy was shown and all Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians who fought for Germany were executed. By the end of the war, death and deportation had cost the Baltic States over 20 percent of their total population and the iron curtain would descend on the region for over four decades. Using numerous first-hand accounts and detailed archival research, Prit Buttar weaves a magisterial account of the bitter fighting on the Eastern Front and the three small states whose fates were determined by the fortunes and misfortunes of war.
Read an extract of Between Giants
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations List of Maps Author's Note Dramatis Personae Preface
Introduction Chapter 1: Molotov, Ribbentrop and the First Soviet Occupation Chapter 2: Rosenberg, Generalplan Ost and Preparations for Barbarossa Chapter 3: The Wehrmacht in Full Flood Chapter 4: The Baltic Holocaust Chapter 5: Reluctant Allies Chapter 6: Narva, January to April 1944 Chapter 7: Breaking the Deadlock: Summer 1944 Chapter 8: From Doppelkopf to Cäsar Chapter 9: The Isolation of Army Group North Chapter 10: Courland, October to December 1944 Chapter 11: Endgame Chapter 12: Aftermath
Appendix 1: Place Names Appendix 2: Ranks Appendix 3: Acronyms Appendix 4: Foreign terms Endnotes Bibliography Extract from Battleground Prussia Index