Latvian Legion soldiers in Sweden, 1994

Section: - 2008-12-01/2008-12-01

In 1946, when WWII was already over, Swedish Social Democrat led coalition government, giving in to a request by Stalinist Soviet Union, extradited to USSR some of the Baltic soldiers, who had fought against Red Army alongside Germans and were interned in Sweden.

Planned extradition of Baltic soldiers was received extremely negatively by Swedish society, massive protests were held, signatures collected, services held in churches, the interned Baltic soldiers protested too, some even by committing suicide, but the government ignored the public opinion and went on with extradition.

Extradited 132 Latvians, 9 Lithuanians, 7 Estonians were forced onto Soviet ship "Beloostrov" and carried away to USSR, where they were met by Stalin's repressive system.

This dramatic event, which is known in Sweden as "Baltutlamningen" (Baltutlämningen), the events that led to it and the events that followed are described in a book published in several languages "With The Baltic Flag. The extradited" (known in its English edition by the title "With the Baltic Flag : Through Three Occupations") by Valentins Silamikelis, who himself was amongst the extradited Latvian Legion soldiers.

Valentins Silamikelis (1924-2005)

Author has been interrogated by cheka* during first Soviet occupation [of Latvia], has fought in Latvian Legion during the World War. Part of Legion soldiers found political asylum in Sweden, but he along with 148 other Baltic soldiers was handed over to totalitarian USSR. He was sentenced by Soviet regime to 25 years in Gulag camp.

When Baltic countries regained independence, Sweden expressed regret for what had happened and invited those Balts who were still alive to Sweden and apologized. The book was first published in Sweden and is published again in Latvia also in English. [1]

Below here we provide excerpts from the book**, which are telling about the visit of Baltic Legion soldiers to Sweden and Swedish apology, a happier continuation to this already more than half a century old drama.

On 8th September 1992 Royal Couple of Sweden visited Riga. We – the extradited, who still were alive, - expressed out gratitude to Royal House, Church and Swedish people for the protests against our extradition. Royal Couple knew about the event and said: "Das war schreklich" (It was terrible)

Swedish king Carl XVI Gustaf was first to say it. In spring 1994 Swedish Moderate government also admitted, that extradition of Baltic soldiers to Soviet Union has been a mistake. They invited us to Sweden and apologized for what had been done to us then

It was the satisfaction, which we had been waiting 48 years for. [2]

For us, 40 veterans – 35 Latvians, four Estonians and one Lithuanian, who were still able to travel, it really was over now. But behind any one of us there were following three others – souls of those extradited who died. [2]

We were received by Swedish King, Ministry of Foreign affairs, garrison soldiers of Eksjö (at Renneslett), town leadership of Visby and Hemse (in Gotland). Ve visited the location of Havdhem camp.

King shook hands strongly with all of us, but prof. Slaidins and me he remembered from his visit to Riga and spent some time in conversation with us. Majesty expressed his regret for what had happened in 1945/46. He expressed hope, that we do not remember Sweden with bad feelings alone. He said, that he is happy to receive at least some of the extradited in Sweden and in royal residence. He passed greetings from Queen Silvia. [2]

We in our turn thanked him for invitation. I reminded him, that once king Gustaf V had asked tyrant Stalin to leave interned 170 Balts in Sweden. It had later had beneficial effect on our fate in USSR.

I presented as a gift to Carl XVI Gustaf standard of our united Baltic flag***. It was our symbol with which we now were walking in Sweden. I told to King that we had one like this in the camp of interned Balts already in 25th June 1945.

Showing his respect King did not pass our symbol to the people who accompanied him, but held it in his hand during all the audience. Instead of half an hour as set by protocol, Majesty remained with us for a whole hour. Democratic and interested. When we were parting we asked him to pass greetings to his family. [3]

Foreign ministry, where we were invited for dinner, was decorated with flags of Baltic states and Sweden. We brought in our flag too. [3]

Hostess **** told at the table that Sweden had made a mistake extraditing Baltic soldiers to totalitarian regime. It is not possible to make good or undo what has been done, but it is possible to admit it and not to keep silent about it. It is possible to apologize, try to understand and to forgive. Minister asks us to understand circumstances of the time and situation of Sweden. Still, this event remains as a dark spot in Sweden's history, but she believes, that despite of it all, we do not hate Sweden. Foreign ministry is well informed about the situation and problems in Baltic countries. [3]

I was to say the return speech on our behalf. I replied in Latvian via translator, so that everyone understands. I said that the "dark spot" is business of Swedes themselves alone and we do not have to remind it to them. Our part is to tell about that, which, as time passes by, becomes ever more visible from aside, which more remains in memory – namely, huge passionate protest of Swedish people against the extradition of the few Balts. It is hard to describe. I tried to recall everything that Swedes had done then. I told about love, which we receiving from so many. [4]


* cheka – initial Communist state security organization in Soviet Russia, which later became KGB of the USSR; also a colloquial name for it in all its forms during the Soviet period.
** Translated form Latvian edition of the book. For authorized English translation see the edition of the book in English: Valentins Silamikelis, "With the Baltic Flag : Through Three Occupations", ISBN 9984-380-44-0, Riga, "Jumava" publishers, 2005
*** Symbolic flag for unity of the three Baltic states, consisting of yellow, read and white stripes representing one part of flag of each of the Baltic countries.
**** Baroness Märta Margaretha af Ugglas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Swedish Moderate government in 1991-1994


[1] Valentins Silamikelis, "Ar Baltijas karogu. Izdotie", Edition in Latvian, "Jumava", 2005, ISBN 9984-38-054-8, 315 pages, 4th cover
[2] Valentins Silamikelis, "Ar Baltijas karogu. Izdotie", Edition in Latvian, "Jumava", 2005, ISBN 9984-38-054-8, 315 pages, page 293
[3] Valentins Silamikelis, "Ar Baltijas karogu. Izdotie", Edition in Latvian, "Jumava", 2005, ISBN 9984-38-054-8, 315 pages, page 294
[4] Valentins Silamikelis, "Ar Baltijas karogu. Izdotie", Edition in Latvian, "Jumava", 2005, ISBN 9984-38-054-8, 315 pages, page 295
[5] Valentins Silamikelis, "Ar Baltijas karogu. Izdotie", Edition in Latvian, "Jumava", 2005, ISBN 9984-38-054-8, 315 pages, after page 224

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( Extra keywords: Waffen-SS Volunteer Freiwillige Grenadier Division Lettische Estnische SS-Freiwilligen-Legion Waffen-Grenadier-Division Waffen SS )