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Latvia: Year of Horror

The Beginning

This was the Beginning ....

On June 15/16, 1940, many Latvians had gathered to attend the song festival in Daugavpils. This was to be the last such festival for free Latvians for almost half a century. The attack by Stalin's communists on the night of June 14, 1940 was the prelude to Latvia's road of suffering. The orgy of bloodshed had begun. On this night, the "great Eastern neighbour" -- the Soviet Union -- after a silence of 23 years, took the first step in the dance of death on Latvian soil. Their invasion was their calling card and showed how the Bolsheviks betrayed their commitments undertaken in the Mutual Assitance Pact of 1939.

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* They burned the quarters of Latvian borderguards in the Maslenkis community in Augspils Township [ABOVE]

* The half-burned body of border guard Macitis

* The body of Hermine, wife of border guard Purins

* The body of border guard Beizaks

* The son of border guard Purins died in hospital from fatal injuries. Border guard Cimosko died with Beizaks. Forty-three border guards and nearby residents who tried to save the burning quarters were seized by the invading communists and taken across the border as prisoners.

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These events took place at the very time that the Bolshevik press proclaimed: "The Soviet Union has maintained and continues to maintain a policy that is beneficial and to the highest degree pro-Latvian."

The cynicism and bestiality shown by Soviet rule seemed unbelievable. The hypocrisy and falsification of truth were incomprehensible. Yet, they did happen. The official announcements by the Latvian Government protesting the invasion had no effect. Moscow proceeded according to plan for the invasion and annexation of Latvia. These plans werre thorough and far-reaching.

On the morning of June 17th, Latvia was overrun by the armed hordes of Communist Russia. Many of the invading troops were Asiatic units who could, thus, not speak to the victims.

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The arrival of the Bolsheviks in Riga, the Latvian capital,
via the Iron Bridge. View from the central market on the afternoon of June 17th, 1940.

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Communist-instigated mob incited disorder at Riga's Police Headquarters

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View at the Main Post Office in Riga on the day of the communist invasion. [bottom photo]

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... But from the underground, sensing ideological allies in the Bolsheviks, there arose "the oppressed masses" groups of hooligans, criminals, vagabonds to welcome the invaders and to attack the police as they tried to maintain order in the streets packed with the invading Soviet soldiers.

The Red Army arrived "to assure the realization of the USSR and Latvia's mutual assistance pact," embraced and protected the pro-communist rioters. [illustration centre of the page]. Thus. the Soviets demonstrated who deserved their "mutual assistance". It was not the Latvian nation at large.

Grimly silent, Latvians on the sidewalks were watching a real life drama, about which no one at the time could sense the horrific outcome of the final act.

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Attacks on Latvian police and on soldiers and officers of the Latvian Army took place in the capital and throughout the country. Rocks were thrown at the police by communist-instigated mobs.

After the dispersal of the mob, the area of the railroad station and around polcie headquarters was littered with rocks hurled by the communist rioters,

The Latvian institutions, not yet familiar with the practices of the Bolshevik invaders, attempted to enforce the laws of the land, in the belief that those who had incited the riot should be charge and punished. This was a bitter delusion. The Soviet Embassy explained that it was satisfied with the manner in which the Red Army's arrival in Riga had been welcomed!

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All these events were legitimized, A new government took power on orders from Moscow. The duly constituted Latvian Government was replaced. At left: Puppet President Prof. Kirchensteins addresses trhe crowd, with Peter Blaus and Julius Lacis. Demonstrators requested and got the legalization of the Latvian Communist Party.

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The sensitive ear of the Latvian Communist Party's first secretary Kalnberzins-Zakis, who carefully noted the "just demands of the nation", in reality, his orders from Moscow.

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The master of ceremonies of all events planned by Moscow, the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union comrade Vishinski [at left] greeted the "friendly" demonstrators and stated his belief that, in the future, the Soviet and Latvian flags would fly side by side. The future would reveal this to be a barefaced lie and would expose the cynical intentions behind this statement.

On June 21st, workers were forcibly driven out into the streets to participate in a "demonstration of joy" to hail, their own future murderers. The Soviet power, already having taken under its wing the crowd of hooligans, now released prisoners guilty of illegal political activities. Sadly, it did not occur to the new puppet government that the USSR would establish its "pro-Latvian policy" with the aid of enemies of the state! This coerced demonstration in Riga was a forerunner of future manufactured "support" for the planned implementation of Soviet power.

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Newly released criminals parade out of prison

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Prisoners, accompanied by  the coerced crowd of demonstrators, enter the street.
A prisoner addresses the crowd. His face is clearly contorted with hate and a desire to destroy.

The prisoners were of one mind: the Soviets in power were their real friends. The Soviet Embassy on Anthony Street was the den where the local hirelings fulfilled Moscow's plans. The masses had no notion of their contents. Many even opined -- as did many gullable people in the West -- that, in its 23 years of existence, communism had changed for the better.

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View from the Soviet Embassy in Riga

The crowd cheered the speaker addressing the crowd. Their "roaring cheers for the liberators" became understandable only later.

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The former Spanish Civil War Red Front volunteers are greeted by functionaries

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Simultaneously, Red Army soldiers staged performances in the city's parks and gardens, displaying their "culture" and diverting attention from the destruction planned for the Latvian nation. Everything proceeded according to plan.

All interested in the destruction of the state of Latvia and of the Latvian nation and the ruin of its values had now met and joined arms. The team of destroyers was now in place.

With forces unified, the destruction of the existing system, order and values could begin. A fearless hand stabbed in the back the nation's greatest and best organized guard and support: the Latvian Army was to be bolshevized.


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Into the Latvian Army, "politruks" -- political commisars -- with no ,military training and often without even grade school education --- were introduced. Frequently, they had criminals pasts and were promoted at once to the ranks of captain or colonel. The first and essential condition of their appointment was that the army must not be apolitical.

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"Political Indoctrination" session during training in one Latvian Army unit. On the left, a "politruk"

The work of destruction continued feverishly. It was necessary to falsify the wishes of the nation in order to ratonalize actions to which no one with common sense would agree. On July 15/16, in elections for the Saeima, the Parliament, the people were compelled to vote for only one existing slate and were forcibly driven to the polls. Afterwards, holders of passports that did not have a stamp indicating they had participated in the voting, were considered to be traitors. Propaganda signs in Russian and such coercive methods left no doubt about the purpose, persistance and relentlessness of Bolshevik intentions.

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One of the forced marches from work to voting stations where there was only one choice on the ballot.

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The fateful "newly elected" session of the Saeima opened on July 21, 1940. There the destiny of Latvia was to be decided and the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was founded.

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