Tag Archives: Karlis Ulmanis

The Soviet Victory Monument in Riga

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Many who visits Riga surely will notice the large National Library building still under construction, at the opposite bank of river Daugava. A large scenic glass building resembling the Hill of Glass from the famous play by Rainis The Golden Horse. But, they might notice a tall phallic spire just behind the National Library building. This large spire monument that for some resembles the Citadel complex from the game Half Life 2. Who knows since many say that Half Life 2 game environment was inspired by the city of Riga, this large spire might be a prime inspiration for the Citadel complex.

The Similarities between the Victory monument and Half Live 2 citadel

The Similarities between the Victory monument and Half Live 2 citadel

But, what the spire stands for? The answer is the Soviet Victory in the WW2 and the “liberation of Riga”. Last 20 years this monument with its park called Victory park, has become the object of political controversy, the symbol of national collisions between the Latvian society. For some see this a symbol of the soviet occupation, when others considers it as sacred site for their relatives who fought in WW2 and symbol of “good soviet times”. There have been attempts to blow up this monument, many important statesmen including the Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks have suggested to remove this monument. Recently a petition calling for removal of this monument has gathered 11471 sign ups within the social initiative platform enough to send it to Latvian parliament Saeima. The supporters of this monument who gather near it every May 9, including major of Riga Nil Ushakov has reacted angrily expressing insults like “the initiators of this petitions belongs to the zoo”. Radical Russian nationalists have even threatened with  blood if anyone dares to harm the “Russian monument”. Meanwhile the Latvian Foreign Ministry is worried that treaty made with Russia in 1994 actually prevents the demolition of this monument. However, the historical background of this monument and its park is long and complicated and will be explained here.

The territory where the park and monument now stands before WWI was simply a wide empty space. It was called the Peter Park and was not within no plans of construction. After the Riga became the capital of Latvia, some suggested to turn it into building space. However, clear plan was not set and for many years this territory remained as a space for private gardening. However, after 1934 when Kārlis Ulmanis took power by coup the Peter Park was destined for grand transformations. Kārlis Ulmanis was inspired by grandioze buildings in Nazi Germany and Soviet Union as it was common trend to build gigantic buildings that represents the regime.

The Grand project of the Victory park

The Grand project of the Victory park

On 1936 Kārlis Ulmanis issued a law about the building of the Victory Square. The victory for those days were considered the Latvian and allied forces victory over the Army of Bermnont-Avalov on 1919. On 1938 a project competition  was issued. The guidelines suggested a set of gigantic buildings that would oversize the Berlin Olympic stadium of 1936. The celebration square fit for 200 000 visitors, stadium with 25 000 seats, sports fields, velodrom, swimming pool, shooting range, port in the bay of Āgenskalns, the Assembly Hall  with 10 000 seats and central memorial sign.  Such ambitious project as mentioned were nothing uncommon in those days. Hitler and Stalin both had plans for their own fantasy buildings. While Ulmanis was neither a Nazi or a Communist, the monumentalism was imperative in his propaganda. He also wanted to build a new town hall in the opposite site with a large tower that would be tallest building in Riga in those days.

The Song and Dance Festival in the new Victory Square

The Song and Dance Festival in the new Victory Square

Few weeks after the project competition was issued in the territory of the new Victory Square the IX Annual Song and Dance festival was held with portable arena with seats and infrastructure. 44 projects were sent to competition. The prize for three first awards were 4000 Lats, while three secondary awards were 3000 Lats each. The winners were three  collectives of G Dauge, F Skujiņš, J Leimanis,  student E Krūmiņš, V Paegle. The further realization of the project was given to F Skujiņs who already was known for his Court Palace building. Skujiņš and Dauge visioned a Victory Alley that would continue the Ponton Bridge (now the Stone Bridge). From the main Victory Alley all main traffic routes around the Victory Square would alling. In case of mass festivities tram lines would circulate around it. The Square would contain flower gardens and water pools with fountains. At the end of the victory alley a 60 meter tall Victory tower would be built. Underneath it a Commemorative Shrine for the heroes of the Latvian nation. At the top of the tower an eternal flame would rise. A symbolic Torch Rally would end there. On the left side of the Valley a large walled representative parade square was to placed. At the right side large Song and Festival arena was intended.

The intended shrine for the Victory Square

The intended shrine for the Victory Square

  Also a Sports Palace, sports field, gardens, and swimming pools. And to add the least the bay of Āgenskals would be turned in to yachtclub. If this plan would ever be realized it would make one part of left bank of Riga into grandioze complex. No doubt the Victory Square project was intended as the main center of the Kārlis Ulmanis cult of personality. The preparations for project were underway. Massive “voluntary fund-raising” was underway. Every school including very small and poorly funded Jewish School in Viesīte gave their share of donations to the Victory monument project. If the WW2 had never occurred this project would be realized in complete or in smaller scale. For instance the foundations for Riga Town Hall tower were erected on 1940.

However, after occupation of Latvia on 1940, the Soviets cancelled these plans. The Square was left empty during both Soviet and Nazi Occupation. On 1944 Soviets kept the Victory Square name, but now it was no longer 1919 victory over Bermont-Avalov it was victory over Nazi Germany. On February 3 1946 in front of some 4000 spectators the Nazi war criminal SS Obergruppenfuhrer Friedrich Jeckeln along with four others were hanged in the Victory Square. It was last public execution in Riga. Jeckeln was responsible for Babi-Jar massacre in Ukraine and Rumbula massacre in Latvia.

The execution of Friedrich Jeckeln on 1946

The execution of Friedrich Jeckeln on 1946

After the end of the war nobody rushed to create a new victory square since the ideology of the Great Soviet Victory was not fully designed. Neither Stalin or Khrushchev regarded May 9 as festivity. Instead architect V Shnitikov suggested to build massive Song and Dance festival arena. However, the communist party decided to build the arena in Mežaparks instead. On 1961 during the Khrushchev Thaw the park was renamed to Soviet Socialist Communist Party XXII congress park. XXII congress was important for the ruling elite as it set the new plans for future Soviet policy. It was designed as a park with lots of green areas, playing fields, assembly hall with cafeterias. The project was partly realized, as the ideas for buildings and pavilions were abandoned.

After Khrushchev’s demise the new Brezhnev ideology centered around the Great Victory. May 9 became public holiday and monuments commemorating the Soviet soldiers were built-in every major town in USSR. On 1976 new project was set for the Victory monument. The monument was designed by Lev Bukovsky who ironically served the Latvian Waffen SS Legion during the WW2. Even more ironically the 79 meter tall spire was placed at the approximate place where Jeckeln  was hanged. The monument was finished on  1985 during the anniversary of the Great Victory. And once again it was renamed as the Victory park since on 1985 at the height of the stagnation the ideas of XXII congress were no longer realizable. The 1985 was the last mass event of victory celebration as in next year the Gorbachev’s reforms diverted the peoples attention from the Great Victory cult.

A large 79 obelisk a spire as I call it with two stars, two sculptures and a swimming pool was not the center of attention during the National revival. Maybe because of this nobody bordered to remove it after the regaining of independence. People were more concerned with the removal of Lenin’s statue. It may be that if the monument would be removed at the same night as the Lenin’s statue, nobody would not protest.

However, the situation changed during the nighties. People with Soviet nostalgia and resentment about the new Latvian state, started to gather there either at May 9 or October 13 (1944 Soviet “liberation” of Riga). This happened simply these people had no other symbol to identify themselves as all the Lenin monuments were removed. Also the Citizenship law on 1995 boosted the rift in Latvian society. However, these were a small groups of people. The fire was directly set alight by national radical organization “Pērkonkrusts” a revival movement of pre war nationalist movement. On 1997 at the night of June 5 they placed explosives near the spire to blow it up. However, the explosives malfunctioned and killed two plotters on the spot. The spire was damaged, but was still standing. This sparked a massive condemnation from the mainly Russian speaking part of society. The monument started to gain his lost never deserved attention.

Some people suggested to keep the monument, but modify it according to present needs. However, strongest voices called to remove it completely and restore the Ulmanis Victory Square project. Meanwhile the other side of the society became influenced by the revival of the Great Victory cult made by Putin’s regime. The local Russian speaking parties picked this up and used the monument for their festivities. The Harmony Center took the largest share of this and ever since early 2008 used the May 9 celebration as a massive voters boost. Assisted by funds from Russian organizations and using administrative resources the Harmony Center has taken over the May 9 celebrations for their own gain. On every May 9 the Victory Square turns into mass festivity with people celebrating the Great Victory. Portable arena with songs, food and drinks turned the Victory day into Victory Fiesta.

Since then, the monument has been became the symbol of all evil for nationalist Latvians. Since the city of Riga has been ruled for last four years by the Harmony Center the Victory Monument has been the point of rivalry. The 2007 Bronze Soldier riots in Tallinn was a warning sign that similar thing may happen in Riga if someone might try to remove the monument. Bearing the fact that the Bronze Soldier riots were largely inspired by Russia. However, the cross ethnic rivalry in Estonia has not significantly worsened after this event.

Today a petition to remove the Victory monument and realize the original Ulmanis idea has entered the governmental level. The very idea that the Authoritarian style project may be realized in 21st century society sounds schizophrenic just as idea of the Great Soviet Victory. The history was shown that the Victory Square has served as ideological tool for every ruling regime. The best idea is the complete de-ideologization of this memorial complex. How it should be made its for architects and artists. For now the remarks by some people, that the removal of the “Russian monument” might spill blood its ridiculous, as the monument was designed for Soviet soldiers of all nationalities including Latvians. Threats that such move might even cause civil war and Russian interventions adds to the ideological ridicule around this monument.  On the other hand the 2008 signed agreement with Russia about the mutual preservation of the soldiers grave sites that according to Latvian Foreign Ministry also does not do justice. The point 1 of this agreement clearly defines the “Russian burial sites” as sites with graves with soviet soldiers and civilians and the memorial sites built within  these grave sites. As we know already  there are no graves in the Victory Square and its surrounding park territory. So this agreement should not serve as valid argument not to remove the monument. Victory Square is not a grave site therefore does not go within this document if understood properly.

The Victory Square was intended as  cult site for the Kārlis Ulmanis regime and ended up as cult site for the Soviet Victory. Whatever the events bring the best way is to remove all false ideologies from this site and make it apolitical park friendly for all people.

Selected Sources:

Lejnieks, Jānis. (1998) Rīga, kuras nav. Rīga. Zinātne.

Hanovs, Deniss, Tēraudkalns, Valdis. (2012) Laiks, Telpa, Vadonis: autoritārisma kultūra Latvijā 1934-1940. Rīga. Zinātne.

Zeļča, Vita, Muižnieks, Nils. (Ed) (2011) Karojošā piemiņa. 16. marts un 9. maijs. Rīga. Zinātne.

LATVIJAS REPUBLIKAS VALDĪBAS UN KRIEVIJAS FEDERĀCIJAS VALDĪBAS VIENOŠANĀS PAR LATVIJAS APBEDĪJUMU STATUSU KRIEVIJAS FEDERĀCIJAS TERITORIJĀ UN KRIEVIJAS APBEDĪJUMU STATUSU LATVIJAS REPUBLIKAS TERITORIJĀ http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=179009

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Kārlis Ulmanis Authoritarian Regime 1934-1940

Kārlis Ulmanis shown as the Great Leader. On the top of the left a possible future symbol for future single state party

Kārlis Ulmanis shown as the Great Leader. On the top of the left a possible future symbol of future single state party

Latvia as many other nations were the pioneers of the parliamentary democracy. The hopes for political freedoms were high as Latvian politicians made one of the most liberal constitutions of those times. The election law was also very generous as no percent cap was made and  only 100 signatures were needed to form a party. The good intended policy soon turned into a chaotic political struggle between various parties. Two largest political forces – The Latvian Farmers Union and the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party never managed to achieve political prominence because they had to mingle with the small parties. This caused resentment in many and opposition against the parliamentary democracy grew stronger every year.  Obvious opponents of the parliamentary system were  radicals both left and right wings. Latvian Communist Party worked in underground by the guidance of the Comintern and various nationalist movements also strived for dissolution of the parliament (Saeima). However, as in many cases abroad the people who destroyed the parliamentary democracy were the ones who actually helped to make and took part in it. They were so called founding fathers – the leaders of the wars of independence whose ambitions were limited by the parliamentary democracy. For Poland it was Jozef Pilsudsky, for Lithuania Antas Smetona, for Estonia Konstantin Päts.

Kārlis Ulmanis was born on September 4 1877 at a Bērze parish house called “Pikšas”. He was the third son in a wealthy land owner family.  As a third son, he was sent to various educational facilities. He studied at Zurich and Leipzig universities and earned an agronomist diploma. His entry into politics begun with the revolution of 1905. Czarist authorities sent him to Pskov prison where he spent a few months. After release he went to Germany where he worked as a teacher in Agricultural school. From 1908 to 1909 he was at Nebraska University Lincoln Industrial Agricultural college. After graduating it, he opened his milk farm in Texas.  But, his homeland was more dear to him, so he returned to Latvia in 1913. He resided in Valmiera and worked as an agronomist and the editor of the newspaper “Zeme” (Land). During the First world war he  worked in the refugee support committee. After the February revolution of 1917 he again could start his political career. His biography was perfect: son of a rich farmer family, diplomas from foreign universities, took part in the revolution of 1905 and took part in the important refugee support work.

The young Kārlis Ulmanis

The young Kārlis Ulmanis

So no wonder his designed political force was called the Latvian Farmers Union. Founded by his own initiative and him as the chairman the LFU soon became the leading force. By scoring support with his charisma and willpower, he took the role of the Prime Minister of the Provisional government in 1918. He led Latvia during the War of Freedom from 1918 to 1920 and became widely recognized by the Latvian nation.

 He continued to take part in the Latvian politics and was elected in every election. Many times he again took the role of the Prime Minister, he also served as foreign, war, welfare and agricultural minister. Ulmanis also tried his hand in the business, by founding the Latvian Farmers bank that turned out to bee short lived project. As the years went by his political image faded. Many blamed him for corruption, others noted that Ulmanis was too friendly with national minority party leaders especially Mordehai Dubin the Jewish orthodox politician. The last election results showed a dreadful possibility for Ulmanis not to be elected in future elections.

Kārlis Ulmanis ridiculed by the satyric press 1926

Kārlis Ulmanis ridiculed by the satyric press 1926

The opposition against the democratic system started to rise in the late twenties. In the first discussions were merely about changing the constitution (Satversme) or the election law. However, the leading parties especially LFU discovered that making the election law will hurt them too. Then in early thirties various proposals for changing the constitution appeared. The  usual call was for the president elected by the people not by parliament and making his powers stronger. The idea of a strong personality that would replace a quarreling parliament of 100 men was stronger than ever. The right wing Nationalist Union and the Ulmanis supportive block of the LFU was for this notion.

On October 24 1933 the LFU fraction proposed a radical change in Satversme. 100 parliament seats should be minimized to 50, the age of voting raised 21 years and president is elected by the people for five years. The presidential powers could allow him to dissolve parliament, remove ministers and suppress civil and political liberties. The proposal was not rejected but in usual style sent for examination at the parliamentary commission. That would take long months and that is what Kārlis Ulmanis needed. He was already plotting a coup and long unearthly discussions to divert attention is what he required.

Kārlis Ulmanis was a believer of the strong, solid government with the complete support of the people. He predicted the coming of the new age of unity. His ideal politician was the British dictator Oliver Cromwell, who was the leader of the English civil war and later deposed the parliament. His two close aides were Vilhelms Munters and Alfrēds Bērziņš.  Important ally was General Jānis Balodis also an independence war hero. With his high rank and influence in the Latvian army he devised the plan for the coup. Two other affiliated supporters were Marģers Skujenieks an ex moderate leftist now a nationalist and long time nationalist leader Arveds Bergs.

Conspiracy has begun in summer 1933 and continued until spring 1934. Ulmanis was also a Prime Minister that time that made the job easier. His military supporters took time to gather loyal army units. The most significant achievement was the support from the Aizsargi – civil guard a popular paramilitary organization. They would act as police and ensure order in rural areas.

There were also conspiring forces like nationalistic movement “The Legion” lead by “kopvedis” Voldemārs Ozols.  Their inspirations were uncovered by the secret police and their leaders were arrested few days before the coup. Another nationalist movement “Thundercross” despite sparking anti-governmental agenda was actually preparing for elections. Ulmanis was actually quite sympathetic to them, however their negative stance on LFU proposed changes in Satversme was a negative surprise for him. Eventually the “Thundercross” movement turned out to be the most active underground resistance movement against Ulmanis regime. Meanwhile Latvian Social Democrats that had the most largest arsenal of weapons and supporters was warning everyone  about the coming danger against democracy.

A similar coup took place in Estonia few months ago, Lithuania had already deposed of democracy in 1926. Nazi’s came to power in 1933. The heated rumors about communist/nationalist/military conspiracy was good enough for Ulmanis to call a cabinet meeting on May 15  to inform about expected riots by “the criminal elements”. Therefore an extra security was needed for main governmental buildings including Saeima and the House of Cabinet and also the Postal and Telegraph center. At 19:25 the last parliament session ended. Social Democrats were joking to Ulmanis to treat them as nice as could if he really makes a coup. Ulmanis replied: “Sure as best as I can!”

The conspirators went to jachtclub to play a card game. There Ulmanis said that the time has come. In 23:00 the telephone communications were shut down. At the same time police raided the Social Democrat headquarters. The only shot that was fired during the coup was made by social democrat Bruno Kalniņš that fired his pistol at the ceiling as a protest to his arrest. Despite having arms social democrats were taken by surprise and did not resist. Conspirators moved to the Foreign Ministry. At 8:00 in a morning Ulmanis visited the president of Latvia Alberts Kviesis to inform about the coup. With resentment Kviesis accepted the  coup. This was one of the most civilized coups in Europe despite the heavy army and police involvement.

Karlis Ulmanis and Janis Balodis on the night of May 15 1934

Karlis Ulmanis and Janis Balodis on the night of May 15 1934

The official explanation for the coup was that other radical organizations were intending to seize the power, however the parliament was too weak to resist them. Also the unstable international situation was blamed. The reaction against the coup was passive. LFU elected deputies were quite sad about losing their jobs so as the other right wing parties. However, they seen Ulmanis as the lesser evil and silently resigned from their posts. Radical socialists decided that resistance is useless and decided to ally with the Communists and go underground. “Thundercross” was utterly surprised and was angry that Ulmanis had stolen their ideas. In so decided to go against Ulmanis. National minority leaders were worried about loosing their status. Mordechai Dubin called Ulmanis and said “If I am no longer needed here, I will leave!” Ulmanis however talked him out of it. The overall reaction from the people was passive and even welcoming.

The new authorities made arrests. The social democrats were arrested the most. With almost no use of violence, expect broken doors and windows people were taken to Riga Central Prison or the Liepaja Concentration camp. The target groups were social democrats, Thundercross, Jewish socialists and German and Austrian socialist emigrees that werre exiled from Latvia. 503 social democrats, 128 Thundercross members, 15 Jews, 2 Belorussians, one German, and a few members of the right wing parties were jailed. The main scapegoats for the coup – the Legion members were already jailed before May 15 and only six of them were taken into custody after it. Only a few people were actually put on trial and sentenced. The usual sentence was four months in the correctional facility.

The so called Liepaja Concentration Camp had 369 prisoners. The purpose of the camp was to keep the people from making trouble for some time then let go. The conditions of the camp were fine comparing to Nazi and Soviet camps. Until the end of the year nearly all people were released from the prison. The camp was closed in 1935.

Ruling regime fired many people from state sector considered unloyal. All 109 official political parties including LFU  were closed. 113 societies were either closed or demanded to close themselves. Most closed societies were leftist based. A censorship was issued and 50 newspapers were closed. Newspapers were banned from discussing social and national issues. For the first time it was banned to write bad remarks about other ethnic nations.

The press analysis of the 1933-1934 shows relative rise of antisemitism and social tensions within Latvia even in the rural areas. The growing radicalization on both wings was halted by the Ulmanis regime. We may suggest that political radicalization inspired by the Nazi Germany and the falling popularity of the ruling parties may cause greater danger than on May 15. If so then Kārlis Ulmanis had actually saved Latvia from possible problems in the future.

The new government issued a state of emergency for six months. A declaration was issued that stated that parliament is dissolved and constitution has lost its effect until a new one is made. All regional municipalities were fired and replaced with loyal councils.

Although Kārlis Ulmanis was talking about the Latvian national unity and placed Latvians first, he did not dare to suppress the national minority rights completely. However, he changed the liberal education law, by removing minority school councils. He replaced them with a single desk officer for each minority. The number of minority schools dropped, but not in the critical level. Even if some schools were forced to include more Latvian language and history lessons than usual it was nothing that could be compared with countries like Poland or Romania. Ulmanis continued to be a good friend to Jewish leader Mordecai Dubin. Ulmanis only suppressed Jewish socialist activities, he was very found of the Zionist ideas. Consequently from 1934 to 1940 Ulmanis helped thousands of the Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria to escape to Palestine, Australia and US.

Even with this light approach to things the Kārlis Ulmanis regime can be called exceptionally radical.  Instead of Estonia and Lithuania, where the new dictators passed new constitutions, Ulmanis never bothered to do that. The Satversme was simply taken out of effect to a “better times”. Because of this Latvia still uses the 1922 constitution while other two Baltic States had to pass a new one.  While other two Baltic States had a single official ruling party, Ulmanis simply ruled with his own loyal government. There are however speculations that Ulmanis was actually intending to make his own party, but the war canceled this. Ulmanis only took the president post once Alberts Kviesis had officially finished his days in office in 1936.  The presidential title was just a decoration for Ulmanis. His true  title was the Leader “Vadonis” that was almost a God like figure.

But, there are no reasons to label the Ulmanis regime as “fascist”. Soviet propaganda has created myths about the fascist nature of the Ulmanis regime. No political prisoners were ever sentenced to death. Antisemitism in the mass media was suppressed.  There were no single leading party. It’s true that Ulmanis went to Germany in 1933 to rehab, but that he met Hitler there who instructed him do make a coup is highly questionable. Even wilder tales of book burning marches that are still echoing in the modern Russian historiography are no more than fantasy. The Kārlis Ulmanis regime was a simple authoritarian regime with the featured cult of personality.

Ulmanis regime did a semi-centralization of the Latvian economy. Corporate economic chambers were made for every state sector. Six of them were made for trade and economy, agriculture, manufacture, labor, arts and writing and professions. Corporate chambers worked as a consultative body to the government and controlled associated societies and enterprises. Trough the Ulmanis rule many large enterprises were nationalized and the size of the public sector doubled. In later years plans were set for collective farming. The Latvian economy that already had recovered from the Great Depression experienced an upswing. It’s hard to say whether this was because of Ulmanis policies.

Ulmanis regime ideology was based on holy trinity- The Leader, national unity and Latvian nationalism. The Ulmanis nationalism was to achieve the Latvian national dominance in economy and culture. The Latvian culture and language was regarded as the uniting factor. National minorities were not excluded, nor was it possible to do that, however they experienced a minor reducing of their national rights. Greater importance was added to national unity. The solidarity, unity and common thinking were put in first place. Latvian farmer was placed as the main symbol of the Latvian nation.

The personality cult of Kārlis Ulmanis himself reached high level. He was called the “most wisest statesman in Europe” a “double genius”. His rights of dictatorship were given by the God himself. In the last years before the war Ulmanis had issued to make silver coins with his portrait on it and even new order with his face on it. The propaganda gave rapid dose of positivity and gave one sided look of the world outside and within. The fact that Ulmanis even suppressed to write negative comments about the Nazi Germany and Soviet Union proved to be highly unproductive during 1939-1941.

Ulmanis had vivid ideas in architecture. He planned to demolish much of the Old Riga buildings for being too German. His achievement was the creation of the Dome Square – before there were many small streets with buildings that were removed. He even wanted to remove more buildings. On 1936 The Monument of Liberty was finished (the project was started before Ulmanis rise to power) marking great celebrations. But Ulmanis wanted an even larger monument to the Victory in the War of Freedom. His wish was to build a 25 0000 seat stadium and 50 meter tall tower of victory. 3 million lats were already gathered in public charity, but WW2 halted these plans. Later in that same spot Soviets built the infamous Monument of Victory.

The Grand project of the Victory park

The Grand project of the Victory park

Ulmanis and his foreign minister Vilhelms Munters proved to be far less successful in foreign policy. The neutrality policy was not working in practice. Latvia became far too close to the Soviet Union. Ulmanis despite knowing the context of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact  may have hoped that the Soviets would keep him as a satellite state leader. On 17 June 1940 Ulmanis said a rather shameful speech urging not to resist the invaders and said a historic phrase: “I will stay in my place, you will stay in yours!” He was under the house arrest until 21 July and then deported on the next day to Stavropol. After the German invasion he was accused of anti-Soviet activities and jailed. On July 1 as the German army was approaching he was loaded on a ship to transport him to Krasnoyarsk prison. He fell ill on the ship over the Caspian Sea.  He died in the Krasnovodsk prison on September 20. His resting place is unknown, most probably in the modern day Turkmenistan city of Türkmenbaşy (Krasnovodsk).

The cultivated positive image of the Karlis Ulmanis regime has stayed in the minds of many. What happened after 1940, made a myth of the “good Ulmanis times”. From one side they were good times of stability and relative prosperity, from the other side the removal of democracy and the delusional positivism made Latvians totally unprepared for the greatest shock of the 1940-1941 and the Nazi invasion afterwards.

Selected Sources:

Jēkabsons, Ēriks and Šcerbinskis, Valters. (2012) Apvērsums : 1934. gada 15. maija notikumi avotos un pētījumos.Rīga : Latvijas Nacionālais arhīvs : Latvijas Arhīvistu biedrība.

Dunsdorfs, Edgars. (1992) Kārļa Ulmaņa dzīve : Ceļinieks. Politiķis. Diktators. Moceklis. Rīga : Zinātne : Lana.

Bleiere, Daina, Butulis, Ilgvars, Stranga, Aivars, Feldmanis, Inesis and Zunda, Antonijs. (2006) History of Latvia : the 20th century. Riga: Jumava.

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