Latvian Legion by the Forward

Nazi collaborator monuments in Latvia

There are hundreds of statues and monuments in the United States and around the world to people who abetted or took part in the murder of Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust. The Forward has, for the first time, documented them in this collection of articles. For a guide to each country’s memorials click here.

Bauska — The Monument to the Defenders of Bauska (below left, unveiled in 2012) honors the Latvian Legion, a formation in the Waffen-SS, the military wing of the Nazi party responsible for, among other crimes, the Holocaust. The Latvian Legion was composed of two SS divisions: the 15th (1st Latvian) and 19th (2nd Latvian).

The obelisk contains the quote “Latvia must be a Latvian state” by Kārlis Ulmanis, the dictator who ruled the country until 1940. Ulmanis championed turning Latvia into an ethnically Latvian nation; his dictatorship oppressed Jewish media and pushed Jews and other minorities out of public and economic life. Above right, a second SS memorial in Bauska. (Many thanks to Kevin Prenger and Kaj Metz of Traces of War for guidance and images of Bauska, Pienava and Sāti memorials.)

More — A memorial commemorating the Latvian Legion, which participated in the Battle of More in September 1944. In 2019, the Latvian defense minister delivered a speech on the site, praising the Waffen-SS legion as the “pride of the Latvian nation.” Guide brochure here. Defending History’s coverage and Simon Wiesenthal Center’s condemnation.

Above right, Latvian Legion SS veterans march through Riga, March 16, 2016. (Thanks to Defending History contributor Aleksandr Kuzmin for information about this and other Latvian memorials.)

Pienava — Two of several monuments to the Latvian Legion located in the area. About 70,000 (three quarters) of Latvia’s Jews were murdered during the Holocaust with the aid of Latvian collaborators.

Sāti — A cross memorial to the fallen Latvian Legionnaires. Above left is a Latvian SS recruitment poster with SS insignia over the legion’s.

Below left, the 15th Waffen-SS division (one of the two units composing the Latvian Legion), marches in Riga, 1943. Below right, Latvian Legion SS veterans and relatives in a parade through Riga, 2019.

For a monument to the Latvian SS outside of Latvia, see the Belgium section.

For more on Latvia’s parades to actual SS soldiers see reports in JTA, the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, and Defending History’s Latvia page.

Nazi collaborator monuments around the world

Nazi collaborator monuments around the world

Author

Lev Golinkin

Lev Golinkin

Lev Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, Amazon’s Debut of the Month, a Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program selection, and winner of the Premio Salerno Libro d’Europa. Mr. Golinkin, a graduate of Boston College, came to the US as a child refugee from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov (now called Kharkiv) in 1990. His writing on the Ukraine crisis, Russia, the far right, and immigrant and refugee identity has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, NBC, The Boston Globe, Politico Europe, and Time.com, among others; he has been interviewed by MSNBC, NPR, ABC Radio, WSJ Live and HuffPost Live.

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Nazi collaborator monuments in Latvia

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