Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943Latvian Legation, 1944

Mēs esam kā starp vārtiem,
Starp vārtiem uzcēluši savas mājas
Kur tautām pāri staigāt.
We are as if between gates,
Between gates we have built our home
For other peoples to trample over.
Anna Brigadere, Latvian poet
The historical mission of the Baltic provinces is to serve as a battlefield for the problems of the highest politics in Europe.
Russian Governor-General of the Baltic Provinces, Count Shuvalov

The great tragedy of World War II was the Baltics' being invaded and occupied three times by two competing powers—powers which had divided the Baltics and central and eastern Europe between themselves and in doing so, precipitated the war. Both powers extolled their historic ties with the Baltics in their propaganda even while they exploited and murdered Latvian citizens—irrespective of their heritage—with both using each other's atrocities to their own propagandist benefit. The legacy of those invasions and occupations is still painfully manifested today:

  • in the notion that inhabitants of the Baltics were eagerly slaughtering Jews before, during, and directly after the Nazis arrived (Nazi propaganda)—the results of falsified reports sent by Nazi commanders, along with "leaked" news reports primarily through Sweden, all part of the organized effort to paint enthusiastic support for the Nazis and the Holocaust in the Baltics;
  • that the Waffen SS (Latvian Legion) were fascists "convicted at Nuremberg" who swore personal allegiance to Hitler and were responsible for the Holocaust—Soviet propaganda, and the official position of the Russian government today[1]; these military units were only organized in 1943 to fight on Germany's Eastern Front and, far from being convicted at Nuremberg, served as Allied guards at Nuremberg after the war;
  • in particular, the Waffen SS are incorrectly equated with the earlier Sicherheitsdienst ("SD") units which did collaborate in the Holocaust.

That the horror of the Holocaust was inflicted upon the Baltics, and that the Nazis had their willing collaborators, is undeniable. Beyond that tragic truth unfortunately also lies a realm of fiction echoing anti-Baltic nationalist Soviet propaganda built, ironically, on Nazi propaganda.

LATVIA under German Occupation in 1943, published by the Latvian Legation in the U.S. in 1944, informs us of Latvia's third year under Nazi occupation, recounting still-fresh events.

The impact of the Nazi occupation is often lost in comparison to the Soviet's unprovoked invasion, mass deportations and murder, and half century of illegal occupation and annexation. This focus on Soviet wrong-doing is often, wrongly, taken to be a minimization of Nazi atrocities—yet another misinterpretation. We hope to expand our collection of materials from this painful and often misrepresented period of Latvia's history.


[1]The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a press release, entered into the United Nations record, on February 13, 2004 titled: "Involvement of the Lettish SS Legion in War Crimes in 1941-1945 and the Attempts to Revise the Verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal in Latvia." It is available on the United Nations web site site at the following URL: http://www.un.int/russia/other/latv1941.htm (at archive.org).
Similar baseless accusations, "Involvement of the Estonian SS Legion in War Crimes in 1941-1945 and the Attempts to Revise the Verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal in Estonia," were lodged at the same time against Estonia, available at the following URL: http://www.un.int/russia/other/eest1941.htm (at archive.org).
...Timeline...Holocaust in Latvia (HAOLUSA.ORG) Prof. Andrew Ezergailis' web site on the Holocaust in LatviaScholarship on the Holocaust in Latvia: essays, letters, reviews. Prof. Ezergailis is the pre-eminent scholar in this field. EXTERNAL SITE Soviet War NewsThe Soviet Union, Finland, and the Baltic States. Soviet Information Bureau. Soviet War News, 1941. In a monograph published after the Winter War and toward the end of its first occupation of the Baltic states, the Soviet Union blames the Finns and Balts for their troubles, only the Soviets have consistently engaged in "neighbourly relations," rebuffed by its neighbors at every turn. A classic study in Stalinist propaganda and a version of history still familiar in official Russian rhetoric. These Names AccuseThese Names Accuse—Nominal List of Latvians Deported to Soviet Russia in 1940-41, second edition with supplementary list. Latvian National Foundation, Stockholm. 1982. (1942) History leading up to and including the Soviet invasion of the Baltics, the first Soviet occupation, and the first mass deportations of 1941. The originally compiled list of names was published in Riga in 1942. Documents, photographs, list of names (in progress). A Shepherd DiedViens Gans Nomira (A Shepherd Died). Margarita Kovaļevska, illustrator. 1942. A miniature booklet of a folk song, published by Tautas Palīdzība (Peoples' Aid) in war-time Latvia and given out for donations to help the orphaned and widowed, illustrated by a popular Latvian pre-war and diaspora artist—and who dated Peters' father while they studied together at the Academy of Art. Behind the Polish-Soviet BreakBehind the Polish-Soviet Break, Alter Brody, introduced by Corliss Lamont. Soviet Russia Today, New York. 1943. After the Poles rightfully blamed the Katyn massacre on the Soviets, the USSR denounced (per Molotov's letter, included) the accusation as a "Hitlerite slanderous fake." Within two weeks the USSR severed relations with the Polish Government-in-Exile. Beyond alleging Polish lies, Alter Brody's monograph goes on to characterize the Polish people as an ungrateful scourge upon history—portending the post-WWII portrayal of anti-Soviet Eastern European nationalists as fascists. Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943. Latvian Legation, Washington, DC. 1944. The Latvian diplomatic corps reports on Latvia's third year under Nazi occupation, recounting still-fresh events. What Latvian Wishes From This War?What Latvian Wishes From This War? Alfreds Bīlmanis. Latvian Legation, Washington DC. 1944. As head of the Latvian Foreign Ministry's press division, Alfreds Bīlmanis (1887-1948) actively promoted independent Latvia's interests abroad. His war-time monograph, subtitled: "Background, Current Situation, Hopes for the Future"—written while there was still hope for Latvia's post-war freedom—dispels still-prevalent misunderstandings regarding the historical inter-relationships of the Baltics, Europe, and Russia. Zedelgem POW Camp 2227Zedelgem POW Camp 2227Latvians whose only "crime" was to fight to free their homeland after multiple invasions are called Nazis and shot as target practice. Today, official Russia and others invested in the "Latvians are Nazis" meme keep the lie alive. Skalbe's Collected WorksSkalbe — Kopoti Raksti (Collected Works), Pirmais Sējums (Volume One), Kārlis Skalbe. Auseklis, Stuttgart. 1947. Authorized by UNRRA. Excerpted and translated poetry. Exiles' Calendar 1947Latviesu Trimdinieka Kalendars 1947 (The Latvian Exile's Calendar 1947). Complete facsimile (Latvian) and poetry translations; published in the D.P. camps, 1947 Fischbach Song FestivalDziesmu Diena Fišbachā (Fischbach Song Festival), Kārlis Puriņš. Viktors Puriņš. 1948. Latvians in the Displaced Persons camps of Fischbach and Märzfeld in Nuremberg and environs gather to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the First Latvian Song Festival. Album of 24 pictures, with foreword by composer and Fischbach DP camp elder Jēkabs Poruks.
Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943, an informational publication by the sovereign authority of the Republic of Latvia, is in the public domain according to the Copyright Law of the Republic of Latvia, §6¶1 and §6¶4. We have contacted the Latvian Foreign Ministry regarding its republication. Please attribute appropriately.

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