Related topics

Sweden Apologizes to Deported Baltic Soldiers

June 20, 1994 GMT

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Forty-eight years ago the Swedish government forced 146 young soldiers from the Baltic states to embark on a Soviet ship and face an uncertain future in Siberian labor camps.

On Monday, 40 of the now gray-haired men returned as guests of the Swedish government and got an official apology from Foreign Minister Margaretha af Ugglas. They also shook hands with King Carl XVI Gustaf.

″I have survived. I am a guest here and I don’t feel any anger,″ said one, Elmars Heics.

The soldiers were mostly boys and young men who said they had been forced to fight for Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. They joined about 40,000 civilians who fled from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania across the Baltic Sea to Sweden in the spring of 1945 to escape advancing Soviet forces.

Despite protests from Swedish citizens, the government handed the soldiers over to Soviet authorities in January 1946. Two of the young men killed themselves before the group was forced to board a Soviet ship, and the 40 survivors visited their graves in a Stockholm churchyard Monday.