Historians try to separate Latvian Legion myth and reality

Take note – story published 9 years ago

With the controversial and unofficial events of March 16 looming large, a group of historians has attempted to sift fact from fiction by laying out the facts of the Latvian Legion and its legacy.

"In recent years some public organizations have used March 16 to express false accusations against Latvia and Latvians, talking about rebirth of Nazism and support to it. These allegations are pronounced and disseminated in order to discredit the state of Latvia internationally. Therefore this year in the run-up to 16 March the Support Foundation of the Pocket Books on Latvia’s History has elaborated a special informative hand-out with the explanations about this date," a release from the historians' group said.

Spokesperson for the initiative, Ieva Dzelme-Romanovska, told LSM the information, which is available as a free PDF file, was not funded by any particular organization or individual but was put together on a collaborative basis by historians and academics Inesis Feldmanis, Ainārs Lerhis, Rinalds Gulbis and Kārlis Kangeris.

The information prepared by the panel of historians is available HERE.

Official information provided by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is available HERE.

Latvian military and defense news portal sargs.lv published an article by Jānis Tomaševskis, Head of World War II History Department of the Latvian War Museum explaining some of the controversial aspects of the Latvian Legion's history HERE.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on March 9 said: "It is essential to distinguish between those who committed the crimes from the remembrance of those who fell in the front. It is important... to be collectively aware of the tragic lessons of history, without politicization, radicalization and falling into a trap of provocations”.

Participants in the March 16 claim members of the Latvian Legion were fighting for Latvia despite the Nazi insignia they wore on their uniforms as part of the Waffen-SS.

Opponents, led by Russia, claim the commemoration glorifies and rehabilitates fascism.

Jewish groups also express their condemnation of the event. 

Tensions are particularly high between the rival groups this year and a massive police presence is being mobilized to try to preserve public order.

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