On 5 October 1939, Latvia was forced to accept a “mutual assistance” pact with the Soviet Union, granting the Soviets the right to station between 25,000 and 30,000 troops on Latvian territory.
After staging border incidents, on 16 June 1940 the government of the USSR handed the Latvian ambassador in Moscow a note, in which Latvia was accused of breaching the articles of the agreement of 5 October 1939, and demands were made for sending in additional Soviet troops and to change the government. The Latvian government capitulated in the face of overwhelming force. On 17 June Soviet troops invaded Latvian territory. In his address by radio, Kārlis Ulmanis announced:
“Soviet forces are marching into our land this very morning. This is happening with the knowledge and consent of the government, which in turn stems from the amicable relations that exist between Latvia and the Soviet Union. It is, therefore, my wish that the residents of our country also show friendship towards the advancing military units … The government has resigned. I shall remain in my place, you remain in yours.”
No opposition was shown towards the Soviet forces; on the contrary, part of the population accepted the news of their arrival with enthusiasm, which was heavily exploited by Soviet propaganda. The well known Russian lawyer and public figure of Latvia, Pyotr Yakobi, wrote:
“Taken from the German model, the authoritarian beginning in our country has turned into a government of national bureaucracy, having satisfied a limited circle of citizens, who have adapted themselves to the state pie. Clearly, any hardship is not in vain. And so now the down-trodden have raised their voice and demand a return of their rights that have been trampled on …”
State administrators were liquidated and replaced by Soviet cadres, in which 34,250 Latvians were deported or killed. Elections were held with single pro-Soviet candidates listed for many positions. The resulting people’s assembly immediately requested admission into the USSR, which the Soviet Union granted. Latvia, then a puppet government, was headed by Augusts Kirhenšteins. The Soviet Union incorporated Latvia on 5 August 1940, as The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.