Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Latvian Legion March

Went ahead as planned yesterday, in defiance of a government ban. Three hundred people, young and old, carried flowers to the base of the Freedom Monument. On the other side of the police lines a few dozen Russian-speakers jeered and shouted "Hitler Kaput!"

The march is held every year on Latvian Legion Rememberance Day (instituted as a public holiday in 1998 but abolished two years later) to commemorate soldiers who fought in the Waffen-SS's Latvian Legion as the Nazis retreated in 1944. To many Latvians the men were conscripts who fought not for fascism but against a second Soviet occupation, their only cause the preservation of Latvia as a free and independent country. Russian-speakers counter that many of the Latvian Legion served as auxiliary police during the massacre of Riga's Jews - and that celebrating men who wore the lightning slash of the SS on their uniform is a form of Holocaust denial.

Like many other things in Riga, history has two conflicting sides.

No comments: