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).
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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