Law passed to preserve WWII memorial in Lestene, Latvia

In order to preserve, maintain and develop the World War II memorial in Lestene, the Saeima adopted a new law in its third reading on June 6.

The new law aims to identify and commemorate historical events, strengthen the historical memory of the public and promote a fact-based understanding of the events in the area of Lestene in occupied Latvia during the Second World War, during which the occupying powers, the Soviet Union and Germany, illegally enlisted the Latvian population in their military formations, the Saeima Press Service said. 

The Lestene Lutheran Church and the World War II Memorial Site are part of Latvia's cultural and historical heritage and are included in the list of state-protected cultural monuments.

The new law lays down the procedure for the maintenance and management of the memorial site. It also lays down the procedure for financing the conservation, restoration, development, and maintenance.

The State will be able to contribute to the financing of the long-term concept for the conservation, restoration, development, and use of the memorial, provided that the State budget provides funds for this.

More than one million soldiers fought in Kurzeme at the end of the Second World War. It was the largest and bloodiest battle in Latvian history, and Lestene was at the centre of it, when the occupying powers sent Latvian units into battle against each other for the first time, with heavy losses of Latvian lives, the annotation to the draft law states.

The Lestene church, with its unique cultural and historical significance, was a witness and a victim of these events. The memorial site at Lestene Lutheran Church commemorates the tragic events of the Second World War and preserves the memory of the fallen Latvian soldiers and national partisans.

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