Leiden Journal of International Law


Soviet Genocide? Communist Mass Deportations in the Baltic States and International Law

Lauri Mälksoo  1

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The present article deals with international law problems that have arisen in the process of legal clarification of the state crimes committed during the Soviet occupation in the three Baltic states. Following the restoration of their independence in 1991, the Baltic states have sought to establish the historical truth about the mass crimes committed during the Nazi and Soviet occupations – Estonia's International History Commission recently published its first report which is analyzed in this article. Moreover, the courts in the Baltic states have convicted deporters of 1941 and 1949 for crimes against humanity and/or genocide. By discussing different definitions of ‘genocide,’ the author attempts to answer the question whether the general context of the Stalinist mass repressions in the Baltic states permits to qualify the occupant's policy as ‘genocide.’

Key Words: crimes against humanity; genocide; occupation; responsibility; the Baltic states.


1 Doctoral Candidate at the Faculty of Law of the Humboldt University Berlin; LL.M. (Georgetown University); LL.B. (University of Tartu).I would like to thank Prof. Christian Tomuschat and Stefan Meseke, LL.M., for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. (The usual disclaimer, of course, applies.) I am also grateful towards the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for a doctoral scholarship.