1944 - 1957 III National partizans - timeline

At the beginning of the Soviet occupation regime, many men refused to collaborate with the Soviet regime, hid into the forests and continued fighting. Some also feared repressions for their previous service in the German or Finnish armed forces.

June 1941
Estonian Resistance is formed

In response to the first mass deportations, the Estonian Resistance (a.k.a. the Forest Brothers) is formed.

November 1944 - May 1945
Emergence of the national partisan movement in Latvia

As the war continued on the front lines, armed partisan movements known as the forest brothers began to appear in Soviet-occupied territories.  These included deserters from German and Soviet forces, as well as those who had avoided conscription into either one of them.  The partisans hoped that at the end of the war, Western powers would help to restore Latvia's independence.  The largest partisan organisations were established in Latgale and Vidzeme and came together in the Latvian Alliance of National Partisans.  Most of the partisans had military experience, but they had little knowledge and skills in terms of partisan operations during a modern war.  Large partisan groups were established, and they were hiding in forests and swamps difficult to access.  One of the largest partisan camps was in the Stompaki Swamp near Balvi, with 350-360 people including 30 women. 

National partisans in Latvia after World War II

At the end of the war, many members of the former Latvian Legion and Kurelis group joined the national partisans, as did people who faced persecution at the hands of the Soviet regime.  Some 20,000 people in Latvia spent longer or shorter periods of time in the partisan units, and some 80,000 provided them with support.  The Latvian Fatherland Guard (Partisan) Alliance was established in Latgale, the Latvian National Partisan Organisation was established at Talsi in Kurzeme, and the Latvian National Partisan Unit "Kurzeme" was established in Kabile, all of them in 1945.  At Christmas that year, 20 partisans led by Fricis Kārkliņš occupied Kabile and liberated imprisoned partisans and supporters.  The Soviet Interior Ministry organised a counterattack, and during a battle in the forest between Kabile and Renda on January 1, 1946, the partisans fought back a superior force, killing 50 enemies and only losing three men.  The Soviet regime actively combatted the partisans with the use of armed units.  Traitors and agents were infiltrated into the groups, and there were merciless attacks against anyone who supported the partisans.  The last major partisan battle was on June 17, 1949, near Īle where 24 partisans from Latvia and Lithuania were fighting against 760 troops from Soviet Interior Ministry forces.  15 partisans died, 9 were captured and sent to Siberia.  The partisan movement fell apart after the deportations of March 25, 1949, because many of their existing or potential supporters were deported, too.  The last partisan group surrendered before the Soviet authorities in 1957, and the last brother of the forest who had been living in occupied Latvia illegally, only legalised himself on May 9, 1995, after the withdrawal of Russian forces from Latvia.  His name was Jānis Pīnups, and he came from the region of Preiļi.

Christmas of 1945
Attack of the partisan group of Fricis Kārkliņš

At Christmas 1945, a group of 20 partisans from Fričs Kārkliņš occupied Kabili and released the partisans and supporters imprisoned there. In response, an anti-guerrilla operation by the USSR Ministry of the Interior and a battle in the forest between Kabila and Renda, where on January 1, 1946, the guerrillas repulsed the force, killing 50 enemies while losing three victims.

The largest organisation of Forest Brothers – the Union of Armed Struggle – operates in Estonia

The senior resistance figures in this union were killed in summer 1949. The last uncaught member of the union, Johannes Lillenurm, died in hiding in Lääne County in 1980.

July 17, 1949
The last guerrilla battle in Īle

The Soviets are actively fighting the guerrilla movement, using armed units, infiltrating traitors and their agents into guerrilla groups, and brutally targeting guerrilla supporters. The partisan movement quickly stopped after the deportations on March 25, 1949, when a large number of partisan supporters were deported from Latvia. On June 17, 1949, the last major partisan battle took place near Īle. 760 militants of the USSR Ministry of the Interior are fighting against 24 Latvian and Lithuanian partisans. 15 partisans fall in front of the huge force, but 9 partisans are captured and deported to Siberia.

The final crackdown on the Forest Brothers begins

Large-scale conflicts between the Forest Brothers and Soviet security forces came to an end. A small number of battles continued to occur through to 1957.

The last group of guerrillas

The last group of partisans surrendered to the Soviet authorities in 1957, but the last illegally living forest brother, Jānis Pīnups, from the Preiļi district was legalized only on May 9, 1995 - after the Russian troops left Latvia.

Summer 1967
The last Forest Brothers, Hugo and Aksel Mõttus, are captured alive
The last man to be considered an active Forest Brother, August Sabbe, dies during an ambush by the Soviet security forces