The Forest Brotherhood
Baltic Resistance against the Nazis and Soviets
The untold tale of heroic battles for freedom in the Baltic states, during and after World War II.
A common view is that the Second World War in Europe ended in May 1945. But fighting continued for over a decade in the Baltic states. Stuck between two totalitarian regimes–Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Reich–the populations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had been subjected to a brutal Soviet occupation in 1940, Nazi invasion in 1941, and Soviet re-occupation in 1944, falsely branded as ‘liberation’.
Variously labelled ‘freedom fighters’ or ‘Nazi bandits’ by historians, the Baltic partisans who would become known as the Forest Brothers fought a long campaign against occupation that eventually failed under the might of the USSR. Much of this history of armed resistance, which was also a front in the intelligence war between East and West, is little known outside the region. Treachery, betrayal, heroism and lost futures all play a role in this fascinating tale, as Dan Kaszeta explores themes of independence, nationalism, Baltic identity, the fluidity of boundaries in Eastern Europe, and the comparative weight of Nazi and Soviet oppression.
Drawing on extensive archival material rarely seen outside the Baltic states, The Forest Brotherhood unpacks the forgotten story of this resistance movement, and reveals its continuing impact on today’s world.
‘A much-needed history of the anti-Soviet partisan war in the Baltic States. Dispassionate, clear and forthright in his assessments, Kaszeta’s book offers a broader understanding of how the brutality and crimes of Soviet and Russian occupation spawns the kind of fierce resistance we see today in Ukraine.’ — Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of Estonia
‘A well-judged and well-written history of the often-overlooked but vitally important story about the part of modern Europe caught between totalitarian communist Russia and totalitarian Nazi Germany. Kaszeta brilliantly sets out the facts and their contemporary significance.’ — The Rt Hon Charles Clarke, former MP and editor of Understanding the Baltic States
‘Kaszeta’s well-researched, insightful and sympathetic book casts overdue light on this gripping story of bravery and betrayal.’ — Edward Lucas, author, security specialist and Times columnist
‘Kaszeta rescues the fascinating and harrowing story of the Baltic resistance to post-war Soviet occupation from the footnotes of history and from the nefarious distortions of communist propaganda. This is a story that needs to be told and is all the more pertinent in the light of Russia’s recent aggression against Ukraine. Highly recommended.’ — Roger Moorhouse, historian and author of The Devils’ Alliance and First to Fight
‘Illuminating a little-known chapter in Baltic and European history, this is a story of not just political activism and armed struggle, but of human resistance in face of overwhelming odds.’ — Mart Kuldkepp, Associate Professor of Scandinavian History and Politics, University College London
Dan Kaszeta is a specialist defence and security consultant of Lithuanian ancestry, who has long studied Baltic history. An associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and the author of Toxic (also published by Hurst), he has held positions in the US Secret Service and White House Military Office.