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Latvia: Year of Horror


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A typical communist demonstration with signs featuring portraits of the tyrants and slogans.

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The Soviet people were reduced to the level of animals and were forced to see the image of their ruler and judge, Stalin, constantly before their eyes. This people-control concept was now imposed on Latvia.

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Neither farmers nor townspeople were spared these endless demonstrations.

The intentions of largely agitators, shown on the left, sought to subject the masses to delusions and falsehoods. To this end, the propaganda plumbed new depths of wild exaggeration. Demonstrators were led by dancers and commandos to energize the spectacle.

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Election bus

Street decorations were erected at every communist celebration. Means of transportation -- streetcars and buses -- were mobilized. Plastered with signs and slogans are buses carrying soldiers. They drove along the streets urging out the vote. -- abstaining was not possible -- to elect the nation's "best sons and daughters for the attainment of a bright and sunny future."

The buildings and and offices of communist organizations were constantly covered with new signs, converting typically cleanly Latvian streets into a Jewish motley mess. Considerably more resources and labour were spent on propaganda than on all other cultural activities. That's what government statistics showed.

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Decorations on "Freedom" Blvd. in Riga.

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The attractive front of the Riga Latvian Association (then the Red Army) building disfigured with signs.

Communist operatives and their spies infiltrated every group of people and travelled to the farthest corners of the land.

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Apart from ordinary meetings for the general public, meetings were called in factories and businesses so that Bolshevik agitators could preach to the workers the "just cause of Marx-Engel-Lenin-Stalin." The workers' response is evident from their grim faces..

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Ski commandos en route to election.

In some places, special commandos were organized to enlighten those "still remaining in fascistic darkness."

These were calculated to impress people with the might of Bolshevik technology and their "concern and limitless possibilities for improving the welfare of the workers." Yet, at the same time, the people were coerced and egged on with imflammatory words to sign agreements to compete and raise productivity levels. Quantity not quality mattered. Even if the product was useless, the goal must be met.

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Workers at one factory sign on for a socialist production contest.


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The Red Corner is one company in Riga

The walls of factories and businesses were covered with graphs and plans, not understood by many. The Latvian worker did his job. The director monitored him to see that he filled his quota. When, after work, the stressed and exhausted worker was, according to propaganda instructions, beckoned to the Red Corner, naturally he didn't want to attend. This corner of devotion for Stalin and the Party became the object of sarcastic remarks and the butt of innumerable jokes.

As well there were " bulletin board newspapers", the assembly of which required much time and effort. They were read only by the censors

The purpose of the bulletin board was the creation of discord and betrayal, which are the primary supports for communist power. The bulletin board papers openly and sharply criticized "undesirable occurrences and persons" in the factory, business or institution. There were people who took advantage of this opportunity to settle old scores or to try to get ahead by denouncing others.

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Typical bulletin board newspaper.

Starting with the first day of the invasion, the communists sought to promote the "heights of culture" and hinted that it would be brought to Latvia, a "culturally retarded" land. The new Russian cultural forms quickly swamped Latvia.

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The public performances of the Red Army in Riga's gardens. The serious deportment of soldiers in any other army would preclude such "cultural" clowning.

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..."Do not believe in God. Do not believe in yourself. Do not believe in good or evil! Rise against everything and yourself, for then shall you leave the fortune of equality. For then shall you be easily dominated and enslaved..Therefore, will you become like animals for your spirit shall be broken." This was the hidden intent of the manipulators.

Latvians had to endure the communist cynicism forced upon them, while people were set against one another, while churchgoers were persecuted and gravestones desecrated in the name of communism's proclaimed "religious freedom".

"The most democratic constitution in the world," Stalin's constitution said it allowed unlimited freedom of religion. However, the communists organized anti-religious displays and museums. Soon after the arrival of the communists, all the methods tried and tested in the Soviet Union were introduced in Latvia, albeit unsuccessfully: The churches remained crowded!

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View of an anti-religious display.

At the same time, the judicial conscience of the nation suffered a heavy blow, when, with the creation of "people's courts", men with no education in the law and often with no education at all, became judges. Caretakers, servants, cab drivers -- of what quality could their judgments be? How many innocents did they condemn under the pressure of blind power and their own ignorance?

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Illustration of one sitting of a "people's court"

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On July 19, 1940, newspapers reported that "six citizens" wished to organize a piece of land on which to build a collective farm. Unrest among the farmers was calmed by an announcement in the press by a bigwig named Spure that collective farms (kolkhozi) were not in the plans -- "There shall be no kolkhozi!" What a consolation to the suspicious independent farmer so that he would not hide seed and would not hesitate to plant his fields. However, the farmers did not believe the assurances and they were not mistaken in their skepticism. Forgetting all their promises, in the spring of 1941, the Soviet power, with no hesitation, assembled the first collective farm. State-run farms (sovhozi) already existed. No effort was spared to degrade Latvian agriculture down to the level where Soviet agriculture was after 23 years of existence.

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The most intense attempt to impoverish the land had begun. What remained was the physical destruction of the nation. The oppressive invaders made careful preparations.

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