The following post contains significant information quoted and paraphrased from resources at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Library and Archives and focuses on the history of Germans in Lithuania. It is shared here for its scholarly and historical perspective and may help provide a political and social history to the family history we all seek.
Many books and article detail the history of the Baltics: these points center on what happened to the Germans who settled in Lithuania.
1. The Germans in Estonia and Latvia are a distinct group from the Germans who settled in Lithuania.
2. There were German and Polish landowners in Lithuania during the Russian Period, 1815 to 1918.
3. Brutality experienced at the hands of the Russians encouraged many people of all ethnicities to immigrate to the United States.
4. During WWI the Baltics became a battleground between Germany and Russia, each claiming the land belong to them.
5. Lithuania was a land of large landholdings, many of which were confiscated during the First Period of Independence from 1918 to 1940. (This is most likely how the Dydwize manor on which Adolph Spurgat was born and worked came to be the social care facility that remains today.)
6. The loss of the support of Great Britain during the Great Depression undermined the economic stability that had allowed an independent Lithuania to succeed.
7. The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty signed on August 23, 1939, essentially divided Eastern Europe into “spheres of influence.” Hitler gave the eastern half of Poland and the Baltics to Stalin in exchange for Soviet non-interference in the war that would follow.
8. The First Period of Independence ended with the Soviet Invasion on June 17, 1940, remembered as a year of hardship and terror.
9. By 1944 hundreds of thousands of causalities (out of the 2, 879,070 Lithuanians) could be divided into the following categories: soldiers who died in battle; those executed by Germans or Russian occupiers; those deported to Siberia by the Soviets; those sent to Germany as forced laborers; or those who fled with the German army in 1944 in advance of the Soviet military.
10. The Yalta agreement in February 1945 signed by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin stated that the Allied Nationals in occupied territories would be returned to their respective countries, i. e. repatriated. Once again, refugees did not want to return to a Soviet-dominated nation where their futures would be assessed by their supposed level of cooperation with the Nazis.
11. Their resistance forced the Allies to scrutinize their democratic ideals and develop policies that would not force Allied Nationals to return former residents to their now Soviet-controlled countries.