"For the Historical Truth and Truthful Reflection of the Events of the Epoch"

  • 7/1/14 12:25 PM

Struggle of Latvian Communists against fascist dictatorship of K. Ulmanis

The victory of Soviet rule in Latvia in summer 1940 has become a logical outcome which crowned a half-century revolutionary struggle of the Latvian proletariat. The Socialist revolution of 1940 was the end of revolutionary struggle and the beginning of creation of socialism in Latvia. With the year 1940 we associate the economic, social and cultural achievements of Soviet Latvia.

However, the events of 1940 have been the subject of ideological struggle for 70 years. The imperialist forces continue to fan the so-called “Baltic question”, are persistently trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the restoration of Soviet power, to present the events of the summer 1940 as "the occupation of Latvia" and forced "inclusion" of it in the Soviet Union.

A lot of work to study these events and to restore the historical truth has already been done by the Latvian historians of the Soviet period. However, the persistence and sophistication of hostile propaganda requires continuation of these efforts.

Speaking about the events of 1940 in Latvia, it is legitimate to recall Lenin's words, uttered by him in 1918 at the Moscow provincial conference of factory committees: "Revolutions are not made to order, not held in conjunction with one or another time, but ripen in the process of historical development and break out at the moment due to a whole range of complex internal and external causes "(V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 36 p. 531).

A revolutionary situation in Latvia has sprung up in September 1939 with the start of the Second World War, which has created an entirely new phenomenon in the economic life of Latvia. The economy was completely dependent on the great capitalist powers of Europe. Trade turnover merely with Britain and Germany (who were at war with each other) accounted for 70% of the total turnover. It should be noted that 90% of Latvia's foreign trade was carried by sea. The crisis in navigation led to a raw materials and fuel crisis, which, in its turn, stroke a devastating blow to the industry in Latvia. Already by June 1940 one out of five Latvian workers was unemployed.

At the end of 1939 – beginning of 1940 the regime of Ulmanis experienced deep internal crisis. Externally this fact has manifested itself in the form of struggle for the restoration of constitution, i.e. a return to the parliamentary regime. Ulmanis would not hear it even. But no less important than the internal situation in the country were foreign factors and the international situation on the eve of socialist revolution in Latvia. They were greatly influencing the internal life of Latvia, the mood of the people, etc.

Latvia was forced to reckon with the possibility of Hitler's invasion. Only after the Latvian-Soviet pact of mutual assistance was signed on October 5, 1939 in Moscow, the tension was released. According to the pact, Latvia has provided the Soviet Union the right to create in Liepaja and Ventspils naval bases, as well as several airports in Kurzeme. The Soviet military bases were turned against Nazi Germany and were guarding the security of both the USSR and Latvia. Both contracting parties pledged not to join any unions or participate in any coalition directed against one of them.

On October 18, 1939 a Soviet-Latvian trade agreement was signed, which provided for treble the volume of trade between the two countries. But signing an agreement with the Soviet Union and strongly endorsing it in words, the fascist Ulmanis clique since the first days began to sabotage it and to prepare the country and the army ... to a war with the USSR.

Ulmanis’s Government behind the Soviet Union’s back has strengthened military ties with Estonia and Lithuania, intensely ideological indoctrination of the army, police, etc. General Headquarters of the Latvian army have developed a plan of war against the Soviet Union (the so-called "Mobilization order Nr. 5"). These plans were partly blabbed out by Ulmanis himself on the radio on February 10, 1940.

Moving and stopping places of Soviet troops, airfields, military ships in Latvia from the very beginning were under close supervision. Near the Soviet garrisons in Liepaja and Ventspils the English, German and Japanese reconnaissance parties were active. The Soviet government was well-informed about these anti-Soviet plans.

On June 16, 1940 The Soviet government awarded the Ambassador of Latvia in Moscow Fricis Kotsinsh a note, which indicated the committed violations of the mutual assistance pact, as well as demanded to establish a government that would honestly carry out the conditions of the pact. The Government of Latvia on 16 June 1940 decided to accept the Soviet note. At the end of the meeting 6 Ministers resigned (the rest were on holiday in Daugavpils at the Latgale Song Festival). The next day, June 17, 1940, the Government of Ulmanis resigned in a body.

On June 17, 1940 the Red Army from the south (from Lithuania) and the east entered the territory of Latvia. The Army has entered as a factor of peace and security, without a single shot, and no hand was raised to Red Army soldiers. The Army did not intervene in the internal affairs, but its presence certainly had an impact on further developments. Latvian bourgeoisie did not dare to deploy a reign of terror against the Latvian labor movement, and to suppress the revolutionary forces.

The period of 17 - 20 June 1940 were days of agony of Ulmanis’s regime, when the working class in Latvia rose to overthrow the fascist dictatorship. The demonstrations, organized by the Latvian Communists, took p[lace in many places. Ulmanis’s regime began to collapse. In these circumstances Ulmanis reported on June 20 that the new government was made under the leadership of August Kirhenshteyn. There were no Latvian Communist to be found. Most of them were in prison. At the conclusion of treaties and agreements with the authorities of Latvia, the Soviet side did not ask to release the activists of the Communist Party and their mandatory participation in the new government.

However, the political leadership of the government was exercised by the Communist Party of Latvia (CPL). The requirements of CPL, given to the new government on 21 June 1940 during a demonstration, became a program of action for the government. Under the specific conditions of the summer of 1940 the People's Government of Latvia met the goals of the proletariat dictatorship.

The socialist revolution of 1940 in Latvia, which is an integral part of the revolutionary process of the Great October Socialist Revolution, had its own peculiarities.

First, it was a peaceful socialist revolution; the victory was gained without a civil war, without a strong resistance from the bourgeoisie. In the history of Europe it is an extremely rare, even unique phenomenon.

Secondly, this revolution, being socialist by nature, was at the same time an anti-fascist revolution, because as a result of it the fascist dictatorship was overthrown and many measures were taken to eliminate the institutions of prior regime and break the old state apparatus.

Therefore, in the first stages the revolution has been carried out, the democratic measures were taken.

As one of the central events of the revolution of 1940 the People's Saeima elections should be considered, which took place on 14 and 15 July 1940. The turnout was 1,181,323 voters in the age of 21 years (94,8%), and the working people’s Bloc of Latvia had received 1,155,807 votes, which is 97.8%. 25,516 voted against.

Were the elections free? The answer should be an affirmative one, because no one forced voters to go to the polls, and there was no such device that could do it. There were no lists of voters, so people could vote at any polling station in any constituency, participation in elections was marked in the passports.

Were the results of the election authentic? Yes, and it can be checked as there are documents from all polling stations and substations stored in the archives. However, the documentation solely is not in a position to give a true reflection of the results. At the polling stations and substations votes were counted not only by Communists and people who sympathized with them, but also former employees of the state apparatus and representatives of bourgeois circles. And there were hundreds of them. Where are the "election fraud" claims that those people would make? None exist.

In 1940 - 1941 years in the Latvian SSR all spheres of life have undergone a profound socio-economic transformation. The period of socialist constructions has started. This peaceful process was interrupted by Hitler's attack on our country on June 22, 1941.

3. The maneuvers of Nazi agents in Latvia before 1940. On the support of the occupation regime in Latvia by local collaborators.

Already in the run-up to war with the Soviet Union the secret service of Nazi Germany made extensive use of Latvian bourgeois nationalists in espionage activities. Particularly good opportunities for this, as surprisingly as it may sound, formed because of the rapid and bloodless nature of the socialist revolution in Latvia. The Soviet government had shown generosity to the defeated enemy. Therefore, there were no arrests of those who possessed the power, and no lawsuits against them. Although many workers have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact of such an all-forgiveness, of a kind of general amnesty for the leaders of the fascist dictatorship and their henchmen. Only then, when the bourgeoisie began to build its own underground, and to combine forces for an armed struggle, the Soviet authorities had no other choice but to call the counter-revolutionaries to answer.

Almost all of the bourgeois-nationalist underground groups that have begun to arise in the winter of 1940/41, and united the mainly former Aizsargi, police officers, part of the bourgeois army, the kulaks and former employees of Ulmanis’s state apparatus, were directly or indirectly related to Hitler's intelligence agencies.

Anti-Soviet underground in Latvia feverishly sought for (and found) connections with the intelligence agencies of the Third Reich, as well as gathered secret information for them. Like this extremist groups of Latvian bourgeoisie gradually started to transform into the auxiliary apparatus of Nazi Germany secret service, its "fifth column". And it has already become a serious threat to the Soviet state, and to the security of its borders.

In such circumstances no state government would stand by idly. So the Soviet government did not remain in the role of a passive observer either. Prior to the war the total of four German secret service spy organizations, which had close connections with local anti-Soviet organizations and groups, were eliminated.

In these extraordinary circumstances the Soviet government has decided on emergency measures. On June 14, 5520 of citizen families of the Latvian SSR – total of 9926 1941 people have been displaced to the remote areas of the USSR. At the same time 455 persons were arrested. Therefore, this action in total had to do with 14,476 people.

It was a forced measure, primarily due to the need to defense Latvia and the entire Soviet Union; not an exceptional measure in international practice. Later, during the occupation, even the secret service of Hitler's Germany had to admit it. Thus, in a review of the Security Police and SD in Latvia, compiled in December 1942, it is noted that the isolation (the arrest and transfer) of about 5000 people, which had bonds with German agents, caused great damage to the bourgeois-nationalist underground.

The war entered the territory of Latvia at 4 a.m. on June 22, 1941, when a group of armies "North" and the German navy ships attacked by land and by air. The first blow was directed against Liepaja - the base of the Baltic Fleet.

In the morning of June 29 the fights to protect Riga have begun. Despite the heroic resistance to Hitler's massive assault, the defenders of the city were forced to leave the capital of Latvia due to a serious threat.

The Government of the Republic and the Central Committee of CPL, were evacuated from Riga on June 27, and resumed their work in Valka. However, already on the night of 4 / 5 July, according to the order of command of the North-Western Front, the Soviet troops, as well as the governing bodies of the Latvian SSR, left Valka. The territory of the republic was at the mercy of the Nazi occupiers.

German command created special bodies of local self-government in order to support the occupation regime in Latvia. The bodies were composed of former government officials, and a number of public figures who represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. Supporters of the occupation regime together with the Nazis actively participated in mass reprisals against civilians. During the years of Nazi occupation on the territory of Latvia about 150,000 civilians were killed, including more than 75,000 Jews. Around 50,000 people were imprisoned and/or put into concentration camps; more than 280,000 were driven away to labor in Germany (some also emigrated). In total during the war the population of Latvia has decreased by almost 450,000 people.

In February 1943, Hitler ordered to form a voluntary Latvian Legion as a part of the German military formations of the Waffen SS. Units of that Legion participated not only in the battles against the Red Army, but also in punitive expeditions against the civilian population in the territories occupied by Nazi troops.

The war proved that Latvian society has not yet reached common views on the development prospects of the republic, and that there were still advocates of a return to the bourgeois past, as well as there were supporters of armed resistance, which lasted until the mid 50-ies. However, the real life proved that majority of the population of Latvia made a choice in favor of socialism.

4. On the partisan movement in Latvia and Latvian fighting during the liberation of the republic.

The underground struggle of Soviet people in the rear of the Nazis is a bright page in the chronicle of the Great Patriotic War. The History of Anti-Fascist underground movement on the temporarily occupied territory of the Latvian SSR, which embarked on the path of socialist development as a part of the USSR merely a year before the war, is very important because the partisan movement in Latvia has become widespread only at the end of 1943 - beginning of 1944 due to a specific socio-political environment. During the first two and a half years of Nazi occupation that is from July 1941 until early 1944 the mood of the majority of workers in Latvia (before the coming of the invaders only 2 - 2.5% of residents of the Latvian SSR managed to evacuate into the Soviet Union) has manifested itself in the antifascist underground struggle. Evaluating the impact of that movement in the common struggle of the Latvian people in the rear of the enemy, we must not forget that in the first two years of occupation in Latvia the underground committees of the Communist Party failed to be created (only in Riga in autumn 1942 there existed an underground party organization). Active in 1943 - 1944 years, the clandestine regional and county committees of the CP(b) of Latvia exercised control of primary party organizations of partisan brigades and units only. One reason for this is that in the young Soviet republic, after the two decades of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the party organization was still relatively small in number. In the ranks of the Communist Party of Latvia (not including the Communists, who had served in military units on the territory of the Latvian SSR) there were only 5057 people on June 1, 1941 (3059 members of the party and 1998 candidates for the party). (The population in 1940 - 1,886,000 people). In occupied by enemy territory of Latvia around 400 Communists remained, but in the very first weeks of the occupation the vast majority of them were arrested and shot.

Under these circumstances, the CC CP(b) of Latvia, as well as its task force and the underground party committees on the temporarily occupied territory of the republic could rely in their work mainly on the underground organizations and groups, that were anti-fascist by their nature, and by their content - Communist. That is why the reactionary historians and Latvian bourgeois emigrants in the West are trying to falsify the history of anti-fascist struggle, which was led by the Latvian people (and especially its vanguard - the working class) under the leadership of the Communist Party of Latvia against the Nazi occupiers and their henchmen - Latvian bourgeois nationalists. Bourgeois liars literally bend over backwards, trying to convince the world that in Latvia the struggle against the Nazi occupiers was not a struggle for the Soviet power.

On March 1, 1942 Bureau of the CC CP(b)L has decided to train and send the partisan movement and the party underground leaders to the territory of occupied Latvia. With the support of the Central Committee of the CPSU(b) and the Soviet government about 700 volunteers (consisting of several units and groups) were trained, armed and transported across the front line.

By 1944 the partisan movement had spread to almost all of Latvia. 24 partisan detachments were established, 33 suborders, as well as many individual platoons and groups. In total about 20 thousand people took part in the partisan movement of Latvia. The Nazis sent against the partisan bases more than 100 punitive expeditions, repressed thousands of people who sympathized with partisans, but were powerless to stop the spreading partisan movement.

The liberation of the territory of Latvia from Nazi troops lasted for the period of 10 months, from July 1944 to May 1945. In these battles took part at different times 19 armies, in which lines stood soldiers of different nationalities. About 150,000 Soviet soldiers died in battles on Latvian soil. 320 soldiers were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

Also Latvian military units (130th Latvian Rifle Corps, 1st Latvian Aviation Regiment, Latvian partisan units) took part in the liberation process of the Latvian SSR.

On July 18, 1944 the units of the 43rd Guards Division crossed the border of the Latvian SSR, and occupied the first settlement on the territory of the republic - Shkyaune. Afterwards the Latvian corps actively participated in Rezekne- Daugavpils, Krustpils, Madona and Riga operations.

On October 16, 1944 the units of 130th Latvian Rifle Corps entered the liberated Riga, being passionately welcomed by residents.

On May 9, 1945 in the village called Plani (by the river Imula) the units of the 43rd Latvian Guards Rifle Division took the surrender of Nazi troops (24th Infantry Division and the units of the 19th Division of Latvian SS Legion).

During the war the population of the Latvian SSR decreased by 450 thousand people (almost 24%), out of which up to 280,000 Latvians appeared to be abroad. In the fight against the Nazis up to 100,000 of Latvian civilians were killed. National economy has suffered a great damage.

The history of the Great Patriotic War clearly demonstrates that Latvian people would be unable to throw off the Nazi yoke and to overcome the giant war machine of Nazi Germany merely by their own efforts. The victory in the war has shown that the irresistible force of the Latvian people is in their loyalty to the community of the Soviet peoples, with whose help Latvians defended the freedom, the national culture, and the possibility of an all-round economic and cultural development.

It is unfortunate now, on the 65-th anniversary of the Soviet people's victory in World War II, to observe the persistence of political forces, which possess power now in Latvia, to "clean up" and justify in any possible way Nazism and its genocidal ideology. Moreover, to observe permissions being given to pro-fascist demonstrators in Riga as well as other towns, the allocation of funds from the state budget for the maintenance of the graves of the warriors from the Waffen SS, the fascist Legion, and the complete lack of funding for the restoration and maintenance of places of mass burial of the Red Army soldiers; a miserable existence of anti-fascist veterans of World War II, and steady increase in pensions and benefits for so-called national partisans – the members of post-war bands, which were fighting against the lawful Soviet power after the war. These facts are the evidence of former Nazis support on state level in Latvia.

It is easy to discern in all this the desire of nationalist forces of the country to give other than given and existent in the world interpretation of the history of the World War II. All this comes at a time when the entire world, led by Russia and the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition celebrated the 65th anniversary of Victory over Nazi Germany.

Socialist Party of Latvia was categorically condemning any attempts (and still continues to do so) by any whatsoever pretext to whitewash and justify fascism, and to downgrade the heroic deed of the winners in the Great Patriotic War. As another challenge from the revenge-seekers, which should be worthy of reply, we accept the verdict pronounced by May 17 by the Grand Chamber of the ECHR on the case of Red partisan Vasily Kononov Makarovych. The struggle continues.

 

* Sergey Hristolubov is Secretary of the Political Council of the Socialist Party of Latvia

 

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