Forgotten voices: reflections on Latvia during World War Two

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Swain, Geoffrey (2010)
  • Publisher: Rodopi
  • Subject: DK

The occasion of the 90th anniversary of Latvia’s declaration of independence seemed a suitable occasion to reflect on this author’s decade long commitment to studying the history of Latvia during the Second World War. In 2003 Routledge published Between Stalin and Hitler: Class War and Race War on the Dvina, 1940-46, a detailed case study of Latgale under Soviet and Nazi rule. Since then, two articles have appeared on the National Partisans: “Divided We Fall: Divisions within the National Partisans of Vidzeme and Latgale, Fall 1945”, Journal of Baltic Studies 38/2 2007 and “Latvia’s Democratic Resistance: a Forgotten Episode from the Second World War”, European History Quarterly 39/2 2009. Prior to that, in January 2004, there was also a short paper to the XIII Scientific Readings of the Humanities Faculty, Daugavpils University, on the subject “From Source to Person: the Case of Jānis Niedre”, published in Proceedings of the 13th International Scientific Readings of the Faculty of Humanities. History VII (Saule, Daugavpils 2004). These studies all focus on the power of the great ideologies of the twentieth century and the way those ideologies could justify the abandonment of accepted morality. Yet they also say something else about ideology: the years of Soviet and now post-Soviet historiography have drowned out the voices of those who did not quite fit in with the dominant ideologies of the time.\ud \ud The aim of this short paper, therefore, is to restore to the historical record the voices of some of those who have been marginalised or forgotten. Three examples are taken: the case of Jānis Niedre; the demands of Latvia’s former Red Partisans; and the decisions taken by many, possibly a majority of Latvia.
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