VILNIUS MARCHES | KAUNAS MARCHES | REGIONAL PRO-NAZI MARCHES | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | ANTISEMITISM | EVENTS | OPINION
Eyewitness Report by Defending History Staff with photos by Julius Norwilla. His photo gallery available here.
VILNIUS—At the suggestion of a number of our readers in Connecticut and neighboring states, Defending History has contacted the office of the Hon. Erin E. Steward, mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, to ask if her team was aware of the alleged pro-Nazi and Holocaust collaborator background of a Lithuanian militant, Adolfas Ramanauskas (“Vanagas”) who became a major leader of the anti-Soviet resistance in the years after the war. We urge the mayor to reconsider plans for him to be glorified in New Britain, Connecticut this year. It would make much more sense to honor Lithuania’s 100th anniversary of its inspirational 1918 independence in a way that is dignified and can be celebrated by all the peoples of Lithuania, at home and in its far-flung diaspora.
In response to a protest from the World Jewish Congress, after the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa unveiled a statue celebrating nationalist leader Symon Petliura — whose troops killed tens of thousands of Jews in pogroms between 1918 and 1921 — a regional official from the extremist Svoboda party threatened Jewish citizens. In a Facebook rant, the Svoboda official warned Jews opposed to the Petliura statue to fall in line or face the consequences. The Svoboda official stated that “the only time we comfortably coexisted with kikes is Koliyvishchyna,” a reference to an 18th century pogrom against Jews in Ukraine.
As Ukraine’s Orwellian-sounding Ukrainian Institute of National Memory continues building a cult around such antisemitic World War II era nationalists as Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych — their forces were responsible for the murder of (at least) tens of thousands of Jews and Poles — some frankly surreal aspects come sharply into view. The latest though really takes the cake.
On June 23, 2017, the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters Association (Lietuvos laisvės kovotojų sąjunga) organized a commemoration of the June 23, 1941 anti-Soviet uprising with a complete lack of sensitivity for Lithuanian victims of the Holocaust.
The official celebration at the Parliament’s Independence Square included an elaborately choreographed flag raising by the Lithuanian Army’s Honor Guard, music by the Armed Forces Orchestra, a reenactment of the Declaration of Independence with its hopes for a place for Lithuania in Hitler’s New Europe, and a speech by Vytautas Landsbergis, patriarch of modern-day Lithuania.
More by Andrius Kulikauskas. Articles by Evaldas Balčiūnas; Milan Chersonski; Leonidas Donskis; Nida Vasiliauskaitė. See also:
DH section on The Legacy of 23 June 1941. DH pages on: LAF intentions; painful street names; dry-clean of the week of 23 June 1941.
VILNIUS—This year’s March 11th independence day march here last month was again granted the route of highest prestige, from Cathedral Square, up the whole of the capital’s main thoroughfare, Gedimino Boulevard, and ending at Parliament Square. Defending History’s eyewitness report recounted this year’s “detour” to the presidential palace for the bizarre ceremony of attacking Lithuania’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (Brancovskaja), 95 next month, one of the Jewish partisans subjected to defamation by the state’s campaign of Holocaust revisionism that has included a “blame the victims” components that started eleven years ago.
VILNIUS—DefendingHistory.com invites citizens and visitors in town, and the Human Rights community especially, to come join the annual monitoring mission that will meet this Saturday, 11 March, at 3:30 PM at the Bell Tower on Cathedral square. From 2008, the year the center of Vilnius was first gifted by the municipality to the neo-nazis on the nation’s cherished March 11th independence day, the Vilnius-based team has been keeping track of the annual event, which has caused unbearable pain to the last Holocaust survivors and their families, not least because the marchers often flaunt placards glorifying various specific local Holocaust collaborators, in what appears to be a kind of celebration of the murder of the country’s Jewish citizens in the Holocaust. Since 2009, the team has been monitoring personally, on an annual basis, at the same time silently protesting and commemorating the annihilated Jewish population of the city that was once called Jerusalem of Lithuania. The march’s Facebook page is here.
The following is today’s public entry on the Facebook page of DH’s editor, Dovid Katz:
A recent Washington Post editorial rightfully takes Russia and China to task for persecuting those who dare challenge the state’s distortions of history. In the case of Russia, there is mention of the disgraceful prosecution of a citizen for pointing out that the September 1939 dismemberment of Poland was a joint venture of Germany and the USSR codified by the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But wait a minute.
On 29 October 1998, a few weeks after the parliamentary elections, the outgoing Parliament of Latvia had adopted the Declaration on Latvian Legionnaires in the World War II. The vote was as follows: 50 ayes, 8 nays, 3 abstentions.
The text contains several questionable statements. Those include claiming that “The aim of soldiers who were drafted into the Legion or who joined it voluntary was to protect Latvia from the restoration of Stalin’s regime” and asking the government to “prevent insults against the honour and dignity of Latvian soldiers.” To make it clear — the ones whose reputation was intended to be defended were Nazi collaborators, voluntarily or not. And the intention was pretty obvious — as the rapporteur MP, Mr. Mauliņš, said before the vote, “this decision will be our position towards our soldiers who truly fought for the independence of Latvia”.
There are here in Latvia some high-ranking Latvian politicians who actually believe that the country’s Waffen SS fighters fought for freedom of their country. Every year on the 16th of March Latvian nationalists gather at the Freedom Monument in the heart of Riga, the nation’s capital, and in the cemetery at Lestene, a village some seventy-two kilometers from Riga, to remember and honor (honor!) the living and dead veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS.
Established by order of Adolf Hitler on the 10th of February 1943, they fought for Nazi Germany against the Red Army on the Volkhov front near Leningrad, and later in Great River region, Kurzeme (Kurland), in Poland, Germany and elsewhere.
Although the alarming series of annual events commemorating and glorifying the Latvian SS Volunteer Legion events are now officially non-governmental, some MPs and even ministers do not hesitate to not only participate publicly, setting an example for the nation’s youth, but also to publicly refer to Waffen SS legionnaires as heroes and national freedom fighters. Had Hitler won the war, there would have been no Latvia left to become free in 1991. By swearing and oath to Adolf Hitler’s genocidal regime, and then in fact delaying the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies, they were pawns of the Nazis who do not deserve to be glorified by a modern, democratic member of the European Union and NATO.
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office today issued a press release (text below), including a quote from its director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, calling on Visvaldas Matijošaitis, the mayor of Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania’s second city, to ban weddings and other celebrations from the now privatized parts of the historic Seventh Fort, where thousands of Kaunas Jews were humiliated, tortured and murdered starting with the first week of the Lithuanian Holocaust in late June 1941.
Croatia is a nation that has been bathed in blood during numerous conflicts, as the victim of the odious Serbian aggression during the recent civil war, and for its football team proudly wearing the red and white checkered reproduction of the national flag. Happily, it is nowadays chiefly known as a tourist destination.
VILNIUS—Five years ago in 2011, on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust on 23 June 1941 and the following days — nationalist murderers killed thousands of Jewish neighbors before the first German forces arrived or assumed control — the state sponsored an array of activities honoring the “rebels” (an historic nonsense, the Soviet occupying forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion, the largest in human history, not the local Jew-killers).
VILNIUS—For the tiny and dwindling group of Holocaust survivors in this part of the world, the indelibly cursed day the genocide began was June 23rd 1941, when hordes of young local “nationalists,” some affiliated with the fascist Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) — which had put in writing its intentions for Jewish fellow-citizens beforehand — began to murder, plunder and rape their neighbors in at least forty locations before the first German soldiers even got there, as confirmed by numerous historians and eyewitnesses. Within a few days, most would don white-armbands.
LONDON—The following is the 16 April 2016 reply of the Latvian ambassador to the UK Aandris Teikmanis to MP Gareth Thomas, concerning the annual March 16th events in central Riga glorifying the Latvian Waffen SS.
LONDON—The following is the UK Minister for Europe’s 8 April 2016 reply to his former shadow counterpart, Labour MP Gareth Thomas, concerning neo-Nazi marches in Latvia and Lithuania that occur each year with with substantial government support in the heart of each nation’s capital. For reference, the minister’s 2013 reply on the same topic is appended below.
Defending History Monitors the Marches:
On 16 March 2012, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, during his visit to Riga to protest against the Waffen SS legionnaires march, stated in an interview to Latvian State television LTV1 that the “Latvian SS Legion was not involved in the crimes of the Holocaust” but also stated, as he has done each and every year since 1999, “although these units were not involved in crimes against humanity, many of their soldiers had previously served in the Latvian security police and had actively participated in the mass murder of civilians, primarily Jews.” 
KAUNAS—For the fifth year running, the Defending History team was the only Lithuania-based monitoring unit on site to observe and record the neo-Nazi march in the center of Kaunas, from start to finish, on February 16th, the anniversary of Lithuania’s 1918 declaration of independence. (DH has monitored the March 11th marches in Vilnius since 2008.) Once again, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office was the only foreign partner to attend, monitor and participate in our annual silent protest. There was no sign of any of the many well-funded human rights monitors in the region.
Yet again, the center of Kaunas, the interwar capital and modern Lithuania’s second city, was gifted by the city’s authorities to the neo-Nazis for their event, which drew hundreds, and was kept orderly by a highly professional, and by now experienced, police and state security presence (which, as ever, took every care to keep the Defending History team secure throughout the day).
This year’s theme was a front-of-march We Know Our Nation’s Heroes banner featuring six figures who share the following unsettling common denominator: all were alleged Nazi collaborators and/or Holocaust perpetrators (from left): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Jonas Noreika, Povilas Plechavičius, Kazys Škirpa, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis. It is as if the marchers are celebrating the murder of the 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas, the more than 95% of the over 200,000 strong Lithuanian Jewish population on the eve of the Holocaust, and the resulting “cleansing” of Lithuania’s Jewish minority.
Next month, the European Union and NATO will again be faced with the annual city-center march in Riga, the Latvian capital, glorifying the country’s Hitlerist Waffen SS. I had of course for years heard about the infamous March 16th marches in Riga when old members of the Latvian Waffen SS, their sympathizers and those who feel nostalgic about the good old time under Nazi rule proudly parade through the central streets of the beautiful capital of Latvia, ending their solemn march in front of the Freedom Monument, where they – solemnly and hierarchically – lay bundles of flowers at the foot of the monument and sing the national anthem.
Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM Great Britain) held a remembrance day at the Tarasivka camp at Weston-on-Trent in Derbyshire. They advertised the event on their website (http://cym.org/uk) and with a poster replete with (ultra)nationalist imagery.
The Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center today released the response received by its director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, to his 3 March appeal to the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, the nation’s capital, to halt the planned neo-Nazi march in the city’s center on independence day, March 11th. The response was received on 10 March by emailed PDF, and seems to fail to address the requests in the letter that the municipality ensure that Nazi symbols, racially exclusionary slogans and glorification of Holocaust collaborators not be allowed in the city center on the national holiday.
Afunny thing happened on the way to the neo-Nazi march. I saw a man walking towards me, and thought I knew him. Apparently he thought the same thing, and we both said hello in Lithuanian as we passed one another. As I pondered how we might know each other, it came to me: I had seen him at an earlier neo-Nazi march, probably the one in Kaunas a month earlier. He thought I was a fellow marcher, apparently, or at least not an enemy to the cause.
VILNIUS—The Jewish Community of Lithuania today issued a statement concerning yesterday’s far-right march for which state powers again allocated the capital’s most prestigious central boulevard and a march route starting at Gediminas’ Hill and the Cathedral, and passing by the offices of the prime minister and government and concluding at the nation’s parliament.
The text of the statement, which follows earlier statements and discussions, is as follows:
The Lithuanian Jewish Community does not approve of the march by the Union of Lithuanian Nationalist Youth held on March 11, Lithuanian Independence Day, in Vilnius, because we believe the values publicly espoused by the marchers do not correspond to the principles of the modern democratic state which has been the basis for the creation of Lithuania for the last 25 years.
UPDATES: FOLLOWING THE EVENT — JEWISH COMMUNITY OF LITHUANIA’S STATEMENT AND REPORT; SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER; GEOFF VASIL IN DH
VILNIUS—On the eve of the planned neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius, slated for 3 PM on March 11th, Lithuania’s independence day, the chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Faina Kukliansky, issued a statement on the community’s website, which was followed within minutes by a statement from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director of East European Affairs, Dr. Efraim Zuroff. The full text of both statements follows:
REYKJAVIK—Dr. Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson, an historian, archaeologist and human rights specialist in Iceland and Denmark, who has in recent years contributed to Defending History, today released to the media his letter to the Human Rights Monitoring Institute asking if the HRMI will again this week maintain its perennial silence about the capital’s annual neo-Nazi marches on the March 11th independence day. The municipality of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, has been granting the city center on independence day to neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists who have since 2008 been chanting each year exclusivist and exclusionary slogans as well as sporting racist and Nazi signs and symbols. In recent years, they have also featured huge banners honoring a local 1941 Nazi collaborator in the Holocaust who was in 2012 reburied with full honors by the state.
Dr. Vilhjálmsson’s letter reads as follows:
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office today released the following letter from its director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, to the mayor of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas, concerning next week’s planned neo-Nazi march slated for the center of the city on the nation’s independence day.
TALLINN—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today harshly criticized a march held late yesterday in the center of the Estonian capital to mark Independence Day, which was sponsored by the Sinine Aratus (Blue Awakening) youth movement closely affiliated with the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE).
Below, (1) the text of DH’s letter to the mayor of Kaunas on 3 February, (2) the response received from his office on 11 February, (3) our response of the same date, and (4) the response from the mayor’s office received on 13 February and (5) our response of the same date. The correspondence relates to the annual neo-Nazi march planned for 16 February 2015 in central Kaunas. See also section on previous marches, and our 3 February 2015 correspondence with the Kaunas police. Note that a banner featuring a major Kaunas Holocaust collaborator, the Nazi puppet prime minister Juozas Ambrazevicius Brazaitis (reburied with full honors as a hero in Kaunas, in 2012), is depicted in a 2014 photograph used by the march’s organizers to advertise the 2015 event.
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office here today released the text of a letter sent by director Dr. Efraim Zuroff to the mayor of Kaunas, Lithuania, Andrius Kupčinskas, concerning the neo-Nazi march scheduled for February 16th. See also Defending History’s correspondence with the mayor’s office and our background summary.
The text of the letter is as follows:
February 12, 2015
Meras Andrius Kupčinskas
Laisves al. 96 201 kab.
Dear Mayor Kupčinskas,
KAUNAS—As in previous years (for example, 2013), the Kaunas District Police Department today informed Defending History that it has issued no permits for a march on February 16th, referring us instead to the body that would have issued the permit — the Kaunas City Municipality, which has not (yet) responded to our queries. The letter received (image below) states “We inform you that Kaunas County Police have not issued a permit for organizing a march / rally” on 16 February 2015, and suggests “you refer to Kaunas City Municipality.”
REACTIONS & REPORTS:
From Jerusalem: EFRAIM ZUROFF IN I24; IN THE JERUSALEM POST; IN THE LONDON JEWISH CHRONICLE
From Riga: ALEKSANDRS FEIGMANIS IN DEFENDING HISTORY
From Liepaja: MIKE COLLIER REVIEWS PREMIERE IN LSM.LV
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed outrage at the announcement of an online beauty pageant for “Miss Hitler 2014” as publicized by a neo-Nazi group on VKontakte, Russia’s largest social networking service. Contestants who are supporters of Nazism and sufficiently antisemitic may submit a Nazi-themed selfie to compete for this dubious prize.
Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) had been an officer and a famous aviator during the years of the interwar Latvian Republic (1918-1940). After Nazi Germany’s 1941 occupation of Latvia, he became a significant figure in the infamous Arājs Kommando (or Sonderkommando Arajs), a notorious killing unit during the Latvian Holocaust. The Arājs group consisted of about 1,200 people, mostly local Latvians. It was established at the beginning of July 1941 within the German security services.
The Arājs Kommando carried out the killing of at least 30,000 Jews in numerous cities and towns in Latvia. The toll included the family of my grandfather in Vilani (in Yiddish Vilon), which occurred at dawn on August 4, 1941. The victims were his parents, and his sisters and their husbands and young children.
The following links represent a selection only. Sincere gratitude to Professor Michael Shafir for his assistance in tracking relevant media.
Much has been said about recent history policy in Lithuania. What this means, different speakers understand differently. It probably isn’t wise to dwell long on the concept. Let’s just say “history policy” is the interpretation of historical events provided by state institutions and officials.
SEE SECTION ON
The truth is specific. I will give one example of how this appears in our and neighboring states and how that illuminates the history of our state.
EFRAIM ZUROFF IN THE HUFFINGTON POST, JERUSALEM POST AND TABLET
Richard Howitt, British Labour Member of the European Parliament, and spokesperson for the European Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee today issued the following text of his statement which will be read out in Riga this Sunday March 16th.
Lithuania’s March 11th independence day is celebrated by the free world, not least by those who remember the incredible news that spread around the globe in March 1990, when Lithuania’s parliament (Seimas) voted 124 to zero to break away from the Soviet Union. The courage of the parliamentarians from a broad spectrum of parties and movements was stark; the country was still occupied by ominous Soviet forces (and blood would be spilled by Soviet forces’ violence less than a year later, in January 1991). The March 11th celebration has been anchored over the years by a record of achievement that includes the transition to democracy, the joining of the European Union and NATO, and the rapid integration with Western society, economy and mores.
JERUSALEM—The following statement was issued today by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.
16 February 2014 KAUNAS, LITHUANIA—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Director and chief Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff yesterday afternoon led a protest against an ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi march in honor of Lithuanian Independence Day, held here, in Lithuania’s inter-war capital, whose large and important Jewish community was virtually totally annihilated during the Holocaust by the Nazis, with highly significant participation of Lithuanian volunteer collaborators.
Lithuanian TV interviews with Efraim Zuroff and Dovid Katz:
Dear Mrs. Japina,
The following, for our readers’ information, is Geoff Vasil’s translation of a 3 February 2014 article that appeared in 15min.lt. Please see the original Lithuanian for the photos referenced herein by their captions in square brackets.
The last Estonian SS veteran to have been awarded the Nazis’ Knight’s Cross, Harald Nugiseks, was buried in Estonia with full military honors on Friday 10 January 2014.
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today denounced the commemoration of the “liberation” of the Latvian city of Limbazi, sponsored by the Visu Latvija political party, a member of the ruling coalition in the nation’s parliament in Riga.
Estonian ultranationalists traditionally celebrate Hitler’s victory on the Sinimae Hillls in eastern Estonia annually at the end of July. This year is no exception. The festivities are slated to start on the 27th of July at Sinimae.
As usual, the Estonian government is quietly giving its blessing to the proceedings. Old Estonian Waffen SS Legionaries gather on the hills to commemorate their participation on the Second World War on the side of Nazi Germany. In the battles of Sinimae Hills during the spring and summer of 1944 Estonian Waffen SS soldiers together with their fellow pro-Nazi combatants from Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland and Germany halted the progress of the Allied/Soviet front for half a year in the Eastern part of Estonia postponing the collapse of Nazi-Germany and condemning untold civilians to ongoing Nazi atrocities. Almost half of a million Hungarian Jews lost their lives in Auschwitz thanks to Estonian Legionaries. They would have survived had the Soviet advance not been tied up the Germans’ prime allies among the Estonian fascists.Continue reading
Riga, 1943: Latvian soldiers proudly march with a Latvian flag and a Nazi flag. Some of the men were conscripted into the Waffen SS, but a number were volunteers.
Officially speaking, the annual neo-Nazi march on Lithuania’s independence day earlier this month, complete with swastikas, sieg heils and white power jackets, had been “moved” by the municipality from Vilnius’s central boulevard, Gedimino, to the rather less prestigious location across the river in Shnípishok (Šnipiškės), and the move was confirmed by the courts. But it was all a fiction. On the day, the police facilitated the neo-Nazis’ march up Gedimino as usual without the slightest hint of disapproval, let alone transfer to one of the bridges leading across the river. See our report, and the eyewitness accounts by Anna Shepherd and Geoff Vasil.
Dr. Marina Solodkin, 60, a Moscow native and former member of the Israeli Knesset, died in her hotel room, of an apparent heart attack or stroke, in Riga, the capital of Latvia, on March 16th. She had come to join activities to protest this year’s Waffen SS march earlier that day. [UPDATE: See now reports in Arutz Sheva, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Press, JTA, The Times of Israel, YNet; a brief biography appears on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website.]
A screen-capture of Dr. Solodkin’s final Facebook posting, from Israel on March 15th before setting off for Riga, appears below. It translates:
Reporting in today’s Lrytas.lt (Lietuvos rytas), Dovydas Pancerovas describes the parliamentary honors bestowed on organizers of last Monday’s March 11th neo-Nazi march on the main boulevard, Gedimino, of the nation’s capital, Vilnius (DH eyewitness reports by Anna Shepherd and Geoff Vasil; see also page 1 report). The following translation from the original Lithuanian is by Geoff Vasil.
Lithuania’s Social Democratic Party (LSDP), now in power, issued a statement on 14 March concerning the March 11th neo-Nazi march on the central boulevard of the nation’s capital city, Vilnius. The following is an English translation of the statement, which contrasts somewhat in tone with that of the prime minister who is from the same party.
14 March 2013
The unsanctioned march by nationalists that took place on Gedimino prospektas on the March 11th holiday tore away the veil of democracy from those who call themselves “patriotic youth.” Citizens who support democracy must pay heed to decisions made by democratic institutions, and ignoring such needs to be interpreted as anti-constitutional behavior.
If you walked through a busy EU city today and came across Eichmann Allee, Hitler Strasse or even Goebbels Gasse you would initially think that someone was pulling your leg or you would start to raise, and rightly so, serious questions regarding the ruling government that would allow such blatant glorification of mass murderers to take place. You can therefore imagine how I felt, the daughter of a German Jewish refugee whose paternal Latvian Jewish family had all been brutally murdered in the Libau massacres of 1941 and Riga ghetto, to discover in 2011, that each and every 16 March, since 1998, SS veterans are glorified in the capital city of Riga in Latvia an EU and NATO country since 2004.
My name is Monica Lowenberg; I was born on a cold winter’s day in 1964, in ear shot of Bow Bells.
On January 20, 2012, I set up a petition to stop the 16th March marches in Riga, ninety years to the day from the date of birth of my uncle Paul Theodor Loewenberg who at age 19 was sent to the Riga Ghetto on 4 October 1941. The petition is as much an act of commemoration of the victims of Nazism as it is a tribute to the European parliamentarians, including a number from Latvia, who wisely and courageously signed on the 20 January last year 2012, the Seventy Years Declaration, commemorating Wannsee, a declaration which specifically rejects glorification of Latvia’s Waffen SS, along with Estonia’s Waffen SS and the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) in Lithuania.
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
This March 11, the day in 1990 when the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic declared Lithuania sovereign and separate from the Soviet Union, was celebrated in Vilnius in the usual manner: neo-Nazis, skinheads, their young and naive followers and a gaggle of elderly politicians—both serving MPs and has-beens—assembled and marched up the main boulevard chanting nationalist and anti-minority slogans, scaring children and generally making the streets unsafe for normal activities.
LONDON—Latvia’s ambassador to the UK has responded to a UK Conservative Party MP’s question about the Waffen SS events held in the center of Latvia’s capital, Riga, on March 16th each year. The office of UK Parliament MP David Amess, who represents Southend West, released the response dated 1 March 2013, which he received from the Latvian ambassador to the UK, HE Eduards Stiprais. It is reproduced in full below (as PDF here), courtesy of the office of Monica Lowenberg in London, whose petition and media guide have brought the Latvian SS marches to increased international scrutiny.
Ambassador Stiprais’s letter to MP Amess: