American Baltic Freedom Committee (Kalamazoo, Michigan) records
Records (1991) consist of photographs, documents (originals), press releases, flyers, articles in newspapers, maps, letters and addresses on envelopes from petition signers, sheets of information containing addresses of official offices, faxes, fax cover sheets and petitions to president George H.W. Bush.
Materials include documents (originals) which deal with Latvian exile communities and their leaders who signed lettters to president Bush, senators Riegle, Wolpe, Levin, congressman Upton (January 14,15,1991), Council of the Republic of Russia Boris Yeltsin (January 18,1991), Church leaders (January 23, 1991) and a letter from Latvian Youth in USA to M. Gorbachev. Included are also press releases, some anti-Soviet propaganda sheets and flyers (January, February 1991) containing information about the situation in the Baltics and a request to visit churhes and pray for Baltics. Papers cover also some articles and essays in newspapers: The Holand Sentinal (January 13,1991), Kalamazoo Gazzette (January 13,1991), New York Times (January 14 and January 31, 1991), The Plain Dealer (February 1,1991) about recent (1991) events in Baltics and political situation there, as well as USA and USSR politics. Maps of Kalamazoo (issued in 1985) with some notes and marked districts where signatures on a petition were collected are also included in this collection. Papers comprise some letters (January 23,30,1991) from individuals and churches who signed the petition. Also included are faxes (January 9, 11, 13, 14, 1991), to and from American Latvian Association, Latvian Studies Center, Estonian American National Council and politically active individuals. Faxes describing in detail the events and activities in the Baltics between January 15 and 18, 1991 which were sent from Estonia to American Baltic Freedom Committee from a person whose nickname was Krievs. Papers also have petitions to president George H.W. Bush (see text in historical sketch). Additionally, the collection contains a photograph from events in Vilnius during January 1991. The photo is taken by V. Usinavichus and has the title: "Lithuanians make a futile attempt to stop Soviet tank from crushing a fellow protester." This photo was published in many local and international newspapers, and it was also used by the American Baltic Freedom Committee as anti-Soviet propaganda.
- American Baltic Freedom Committee (Organization)
Language of Materials
Latvian, English, Russian
Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.
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American Baltic Freedom Committee was founded in 1991 and located in Kalamazoo (address:1702 Fraternity Village Drive , Kalamazoo, MI 49007). The organization existed just a few months - from January to April 1991 because of its specific character. The aim of the organization was to prevent the USSR's aggression in the Baltic states and support Lithuania's, Latvia's and Estonia's independence declared in January of 1991. Historical events in Lithuania during January of 1991 and the threat to Latvia prompted the Latvian community in Kalamazoo to establish the American Baltic Freedom Committee. The most important accomplishment of the organization was evidently collecting signatures on the following petition to president George H.W.Bush: "Mr.President: While your atttention has beeen focused on the Persian Gulf, the Soviet Union has begun a gradual reoccupation of the Baltic States. Soviet tanks and soldiers have forcibly penetrated the capitals of Latvia and Lithuania, threatening to usurp the newly formed governments. We are outraged that this year's Nobel Pease Prize recipent is being permitted to repress newly founded democratic govenments and nations. We insist that you work to prevent Gorbachev from continuing his aggression in the Baltics: he must relinquish control of the Baltic government buildings and halt any further illegal actions against the Baltic republics." The organizaton's intentions were to give information to the Western world about recent events in the Baltics and the historical situation of Baltics - in order to get support from the West to the Baltic States. Probably, the organization also served as a clearinghouse for information about events in the Baltics during January 1991. The American Baltic Freedom Committee tried to encourage and persuade people - to retract the USSR's "most favored nation" status,- withdraw all economic support to the central government of the USSR, -continue economic aid to independent republics on an individual basis and raise these issues at the United Nations and the Conference on Security and Cooperation of Europe. The chairman of the organization was Valdis Muiznieks ( doctor, orthopedist and active political member of Lavians community in Kalamazoo). Other members of this organization were Girts Kaugurs, Daina Juozevicius (Lithuanian representative), Sarma Putele, Helmuts Butlevics, Vanda Dauksta, Ilze Smidchena, Alfreds Kajaks, Janis Sverns, Zigfrids Jirgens, Alfreds Minka, Imants Minka, Vilis Mikelsons, Gita Germute. Related organizations performed similar work in Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, and New York.
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The records of the American Baltic Freedom Committee in Kalamazoo were transferred in 1996 to the IHRC by the Latvian Study Center (LSC) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. LSC received them from Gita Germute in April 1992. The materials were described by IHRC Latvian intern Baiba Zukauska in 2005.
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