amidst all sorts of western cultural events that have lost their initial relationship to christendom (such as st. valentine’s, or st. david’s, or st. patrick’s day celebrations – more in my good friend Bob’s blog), amidst the signs of advancing spring, alongside the commemorations of earthquakes bygone and anticipated, this little country has come to the 16th of march.
a memory day – for those who had little choice in the matter.
the interesting thing about this day is, that in the west it is being portrayed about as a day of sort of ‘nazi march’, or neo-nazi birth or whatever else of that sort. but is it so?
historians have established that maximum two thousand men from the subsequent waffen ss division of 110 294 were part of the local police forces that took part in the holocaust. practically all of those have been found, and received justice, either from the western organisations, or in the soviet death camps after the war. or they are dead, and explaining themselves to a higher being of their choice. now that leaves us with… 108 294 or so young men, born between 1901 and 1928 (to think of it, my father actually missed the conscriptions by a mere year), forced to volunteer (that is what my uncles told us kids, and they went through the war, and then the soviet camps, and returned, and were never the same). so, here is the choice – either one gets the bullet at home for not volunteering, or one might miss the bullet fighting the red army. such choices are impossible to judge.
to make the matters a little more complex, the same system was employed by the red army. so. we get some 100 00 latvians in the red divisions that have the latvian name on them. if the young men do not ‘volunteer’, they go to death camps or are shot (this refers to all the young men of the conscription age, regardless of nationality).
and then, in 1944, they are pitched against each other. the two totalitarian powers have a field day.
and then the allies won the war. and then they wrote history, and wrote both of them, all of them, out of the pages, somehow.
and now, some other political forces want to capitalise on the memory of this most sad and gruesome situation. one side (those that think all german soldiers nazis) calls the survivors of the war machine traitors, and war criminals – yet being the regular army units, they could hardly be such. the other side (those that ran away to safety in the west and never got to the soviet death camps) calls them heroes in the battle against bolshevism – but how could they be heroes, being in the army of the nazi germany? very few acknowledge the tragedy of those few who still survive to tell the tale. neither criminals, nor heroes, but people, caught between the grindstones of fate, a generation born to be betrayed.
because the nazi regime ruled for .. what?…4 years? and it killed, it killed unforgivably and unforgettably.
but the soviet regime ruled for at least 40 years. 190 000 people were deported. 51 000 returned. can this be forgotten? can this be left unacknowledged?
within this hectic stream of all colours turned to the grey of haste, a handful of very ancient and very historical men have a church service, and then go to put flowers at the feet of the monument of freedom. in commemoration of what they never had.
and i do not understand those that try to turn this into a capital, political or otherwise.