With the exception of Poland, no region or territory suffered more greatly during World War II than the Baltic States. Caught between the giants of the Soviet Union and the Third Reich, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia became pawns in the desperate battle for control of Eastern Europe throughout the course of World War II. This is a story of conquest and exploitation, of death and deportation and the fight for survival both by countries and individuals. The three states were repeatedly occupied -- by the Soviet Union in 1939, by Germany in 1941, and again by the Soviet Union in 1944-45. In each case, local government organizations and individuals were forced to choose between supporting the occupying forces or forming partisan units. Many would be caught up in the bitter fighting in the region and, in particular, in the huge battles for the Courland bridgehead during Operation Bagration when hundreds of thousands of soldiers would fight and die in the last year of the war. Over 300,000 Soviet troops would be lost during the repeated assaults on the 'Courland Cauldron' before 146,000 German and Latvia troops were finally forced to surrender. No mercy was shown and all Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians who fought for Germany were executed. By the end of the war, death and deportation had cost the Baltic States over 20 percent of their total population and the iron curtain would descend on the region for over four decades. Using numerous first-hand accounts and detailed archival research, Prit Buttar weaves a magisterial account of the bitter fighting on the Eastern Front and the three small states whose fates were determined by the fortunes and misfortunes of war.
Prit Buttar studied medicine at Oxford and London before joining the British Army as a doctor. After leaving the army, he worked as a GP, first near Bristol and then in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. He is extensively involved in medical politics, both at local and national level, and served on the GPs' Committee of the British Medical Association. He has appeared on national TV and radio, speaking on a variety of medical issues. He contributes regularly to the medical press.
An established expert on the Eastern Front in 20th-century military history, his previous books include the critically acclaimed Battleground Prussia: The Assault on Germany's Eastern Front 1944–45 (Osprey 2010) and Between Giants: The Battle for the Baltics in World War II (Osprey 2013) and a definitive four-part series on the Eastern Front in World War I which concluded with The Splintered Empires: The Eastern Front 1917–21 (2017). He now lives in Kirkcudbright in Scotland.
“[A] carefully balanced account of the predicament in which Balts found themselves...Mr. Buttar is himself an army veteran, and it is from the military perspective that he relates the savage unraveling of the Baltic world during World War II's last year. There's plenty here on weaponry, on tactics and strategy.” —Andrew Stuttaford, The Wall Street Journal
“A powerful pick...No military collection strong in World War II should be without this specific, in-depth analysis.'” —The Midwest Book Review