Latvian Defense Minister Glorifies Country’s Wartime Waffen-SS




OPINION  |  LATVIA   |   MINISTRIES AND HOLOCAUST POLITICS  |   GLORIFYING COLLABORATORS

by Aleksandr Kuzmin

On September 27, Latvia’s minister of defense Dr. Artis Pabriks delivered a speech in More parish commemorating the More battle of September 1944. He chose to say that “Latvian legionnaires are a pride of the Latvian nation and of the state” (Latvijas leģionāri ir latviešu tautas un valsts lepnums) and called them “heroes” (varoņi). The Waffen SS Latvian Legion was a collaborationist Nazi-organized unit, partly volunteer, partly conscripted. Its members swore an oath to Adolf Hitler.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director of East European affairs, Dr. Efraim Zuroff commented: “Given the fact that the Legion fought for a victory of the Third Reich, the most genocidal regime in history, and that among those serving in it were active participants in the mass murder of Latvian Jewry, as well as of German and Austrian Jews deported by the Nazis to Riga, such comments are incomprehensible, let alone deeply offensive, coming from a senior minister of a country with full membership in the European Union and NATO.”

The original statement by Mr. Pabriks has proudly been posted on a government website, although the initial title speaking of being proud of legionnaires was later changed. The Latvian state-owned Russian language portal LSM.lv also reported on the event.

Back in 2013, Mr. Pabriks, then defense minister from the conservative Unity party (he now represents the “liberal” Development/For! party), noted that “We are welcoming German boots on the ground here in Latvia ever since 1940.” He tried to spin this as having referred to NATO troops.

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