Images from the March 16th 2013 Annual Glorification of Latvian Waffen SS in Riga




by Monica Lowenberg

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.

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Laying of the wreath to the victims of Nazism by an international delegation of politicians that included: Hon. Tatiana Zhdanoka MEP, Latvia; Hon. Gert Weisskirchen MP (1976-2009), OSCE Commissioner on Antisemitism (2005-2008), Germany; Hon. Nikolais Kabanovs MP, Latvia; Joel Rubinfeld Co-President of the European Jewish Parliament, Brussels, Belgium; Hon. Giulietto Chiesa MEP 2004-2010, Italy; Hon. Marina Solodkina Member of Knesset, Israel 1996-2013 (far left); Hon. Inna Supac MP, Moldova.

 

Joseph Koren, chair of Latvia without Nazism, standing next to the wreath to the victims of Nazism at the Monument of Freedom in central Riga, March 16, 2013.

This year the high court demanded that the march must take place and that the mayor of Riga who, in previous years, has always tried to ban the march and allows the wreath to the victims of Nazism be placed at the Monument of Freedom, apologize for all the years he had tried to ban the march. Nils Ušakovs , Riga’s (ethnic Russian) mayor, has always insisted: “It is a bit difficult to claim to be a hero if you were fighting for the Nazis.”

Hon. Gert Weisskirchen MP (1976-2009), OSCE Commissioner on Antisemitism (2005-2008), Germany looking on at the Monument of Freedom.

The anti-Fascists protested by putting up photographs of the atrocities that the Nazis, with the help of Latvians, had committed already in 1941. In 1943 these Latvians later and willingly joined the Latvian Legion, 15th and 19th detachments of the Waffen SS.

As in previous years, young Latvians arrived at the Monument of Freedom and desecrated the wreaths to the victims of Nazism.

Latvian Nationalists believe that the Latvians were victims of two occupational powers the Nazis and Communists and victims of two genocides. The first point is correct , the second is not.

The march begins and hundreds of young Latvian men and women between the ages of 18-25 arrive at the scene. Some 70% of the attendees are young people.

A photograph of one of the most decorated Latvian Waffen-SS officers, Roberts Ancāns, is placed at the base of the Freedom Monument.

Children as young as three attended the march.

Riot police cordoned the path to the Monument of Freedom.

Hundreds commemorated the Waffen SS divisions in Latvia to the outrage of anti-fascists.

Latvian nationalists sang romantic songs of mythical heroes and days gone by whilst former Latvian Waffen SS veterans arrived dressed in uniforms.

Raivis Dzintars, pictured right, is co-chair of the Latvian far right party which entered the ruling coalition in 2011. Dzintars is a member of the National Association “All For Latvia!”- “For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK” and amongst his various parliamentary duties he is, disturbingly, since November 2011, chairman of the civic education subcommittee of the Education, Culture and Science Committee.

This year Raivis Dzintars and Janis Dombrava of National Association “All For Latvia!”— “For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK”, aggressively approached protesters and tried to tear down photographs of atrocities committed by Latvian collaborators in 1941, men who later joined the Latvian Legion in 1943.

Journalist Egle Samoskaite on Delfi.lt, writing for her readers from a Lithuanian perspective, saw in Riga both Cekutis and Panka. In other words, at least TWO masterminds (Panka and Cekutis) of the fascist marches in Lithuania (with swastikas, White Power signs, Sieg Heils etc), were in RIGA to pay their homage to the Waffen SS.

Protester Joel Rubinfeld, co-president of the European Jewish Parliament in Brussels, was dragged away by armed police when he requested that the wreath to the victims of Nazism be restored.

Four people were detained by police and after giving an interview with a TV station, Yaniz Kuzins, chairman of Latvian Alliance against Nazism and Riga City Council member, was physically assaulted by a neo-Nazi whilst nationalists presented protesters with photographs of the Latvian Waffen SS in their Nazi uniforms.

Ambassador Stiprais,Latvian ambassador to UK, has brazenly defended the march for the second year running and stated to concerned Conservative MP David Amess, “No Nazi uniforms, symbols or slogans appear on 16th March.”

Hon. Gert Weisskirchen MP (1976-2009), OSCE Commissioner on Antisemitism (2005-2008), Germany speaking at the anti-fascist conference after the march, a conference Nationalists tried to discredit by claiming to the Latvian press that all the attendees were KGB agents.

Journalist Richard Brodsky and a member of the New York State Assembly explained why we should be vigilant in the face of events such as the 16th March and showed a pack of playing cards glorifying Waffen SS soldiers, a pack he picked up only that day in a shop in Riga.

No glorification of Waffen SS, Ambassador Stiprais?

This entry was posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Latvia, Monica Lowenberg, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches. Bookmark the permalink.
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