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Riga, Latvia - Latvians Honor Waffen SS Fighters

Published on: March 16, 2011 10:15 AM
By: AP
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Members of Latvia's Parliament Dzintars Rasnacs (3-L), Raivis Dzintars (C) and other participants during parade close to Freedom Monument in Riga, 16 March 2011 to commemorate those who fought in two German Waffen-SS divisions in World War II.  EPA/STRINGER LATVIA Members of Latvia's Parliament Dzintars Rasnacs (3-L), Raivis Dzintars (C) and other participants during parade close to Freedom Monument in Riga, 16 March 2011 to commemorate those who fought in two German Waffen-SS divisions in World War II.  EPA/STRINGER LATVIA

Riga, Latvia - More than 1,000 people paid tribute Wednesday to Latvians who fought on the side of Nazi Germany in Waffen SS detachments during World War II.

Flanked by flag-bearers, participants in the annual procession sang patriotic songs and laid flowers at the base of the Freedom Monument in downtown Riga in honor of the Latvian SS soldiers, who are known as Legionnaires.

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They were heckled by a small group of mainly ethnic Russians who claim the commemoration glorifies fascism and discredits the Soviet Union’s enormous sacrifice in defeating Nazi Germany.

Protesters shouted “disgrace!” and “no to fascism!” while one held a poignant sign made from a pig’s head that read “fascist, remember Nuremberg.”

A massive police presence separated the two sides, and police officials said the ceremony, which has become a public relations headache for Latvia, passed without incident.

Participants were unfazed by the protest. “I am Latvian and I want to honor those who fought for the country’s freedom,” said Inga Branka. She said the Latvians who fought in the war were neither fascists nor communists and that they had struggled to restore their lost independence.

 Participants carry flags during a march close to Freedom Monument in Riga, 16 March 2011 to commemorate those who fought in two German Waffen-SS divisions in World War II.  EPA/STRINGER Participants carry flags during a march close to Freedom Monument in Riga, 16 March 2011 to commemorate those who fought in two German Waffen-SS divisions in World War II.  EPA/STRINGER

Latvia was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, then invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941, and taken over again by the Red Army in 1944. The country remained a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, when it achieved independence.

About 250,000 Latvians fought alongside either the Germans or the Soviets — and some 150,000 Latvians died in the fighting.

Nearly 80,000 Jews, or 90 percent of Latvia’s prewar Jewish population, were killed in 1941-42, two years before the formation of the Latvian Waffen SS unit — which some Latvians claim shows the unit could not have played a role in the Holocaust.

But an unknown number of Latvian Waffen SS soldiers were involved in the murder of Jews as auxiliary police — years before they entered the front-line unit.


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1

 Mar 16, 2011 at 10:31 AM Rebyid40 Says:

Yemach Shemom Vizichrum!

2

 Mar 16, 2011 at 10:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Latvia, as part of the Baltic States was colonized and run by the German 'Teutonic Knights' somewhat like the better-known 'Knights Templar', a military organization of monks, hence the historically strongly pro-German position of the Baltic States. However, this pro-Nazi stance is in a separate league altogether. Because they don't have carry the 'burden of sin' of the German nation, they feel comfortable recalling their connection with Nazism. It just goes to show that it's all one mind-set.

3

 Mar 16, 2011 at 11:14 AM oldschoolorthodox Says:

So did Reagen at Bitburg.

4

 Mar 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM cynic Says:

Sounds reminiscent of President Reagan's visit to Bitburg back in May, 1985.

5

 Mar 16, 2011 at 01:57 PM Paskunyak Says:

Reply to #4  
cynic Says:

Sounds reminiscent of President Reagan's visit to Bitburg back in May, 1985.

Bitburg? I thought it was Pittsburgh.

6

 Mar 16, 2011 at 03:27 PM kollelfaker Says:

knights Templar where not monks but a European group of knights that were sent to the holy land to defend it against the moslem onslaught and became very wealthy as for the German influence in Latvia they were great fans of and protectors of the Jews historically check Wikipedia for your facts it helps

7

 Mar 16, 2011 at 04:09 PM reply to #6 Says:

'Around 1119, two veterans of the First Crusade... proposed the creation of a monastic order for the protection of ... pilgrims.
'Teutonic Order ... is a German medieval military order, turned into a modern purely Catholic religious order... Formed at the end of the 12th century in Acre, in the Levant.... After Christian forces were defeated in the Middle East, the Order moved to Transylvania in 1211.... The Knights were expelled by force in 1225 after allegedly attempting to place themselves under Papal instead of Hungarian sovereignty. In 1230... Grand Master ... launched the Prussian Crusade, a joint invasion of Prussia to Christianise the the Baltic Old Prussians. The Order then created the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights in the conquered territory.... In 1410, a Polish-Lithuanian army decisively defeated the Order and broke its military power at the Battle of Grunwald.
First Jewish colony established in ... 1571.... The Jewish community reestablished itself in the 18th century - All from Wikipedia.
But not too many Teutonic Knights around when Jews settled in Lithuania.

8

 Mar 16, 2011 at 08:34 PM Anonymous Says:

To #'3 and 4- Regarding Reagan's visit to Bitburg, if one reads all of the various books about Reagan and interviews by former members of his administration, as well as by admirers, not one word of his visit to Bitburg is mentioned. He was encouraged to go by Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger. During that infamous visit, he was accompanied by not only Helmut Kohl and Gen. Ridgeway, but by Gen. Johannes Von Steinhoff of the Luftwaffe! Also, Reagan's White House Staff, forced the West German Police to remove the Jewish demonstrators from Bergen Belsen, where Reagan spoke. The whole episode (which was planned by Michael Deaver) was a disgrace. Unfortunately, it probably won't appear in the history books, which will be written about Reagan.

9

 Mar 16, 2011 at 11:49 PM thunder Says:

Reply to #6  
kollelfaker Says:

knights Templar where not monks but a European group of knights that were sent to the holy land to defend it against the moslem onslaught and became very wealthy as for the German influence in Latvia they were great fans of and protectors of the Jews historically check Wikipedia for your facts it helps

>as for the German influence in Latvia they were great fans of and protectors of the Jews <
Yeah. "Great fans of the Jews"!!!
Who knew????

10

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