"ON GUARD FOR LATVIA'S STATEHOOD"
Latvia's Foreign Service Staff in Exile During the Years of Occupation
June 17, 1941 - August 21, 1991
January 28, 2004 at 15 p.m.
in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia
Within two months in 1940, Latvia's legal status changed dramatically: Soviet military forces occupied the country on June 17 and by August 5 Latvia's annexation and incorporation into the USSR was finished. Nonetheless, the Republic of Latvia continued to exist de iure as a subject of international law.
Though the Soviet occupation regime destroyed the existing state and public institutions, it could not eradicate Latvia's diplomatic service. For the next 50 years, the diplomatic and consular missions continued to represent the Republic of Latvia de iure in the rest of the world. Their activities had both a legal and a financial basis:
- On 17 May 1940 the Cabinet of Ministers granted extraordinary powers to Kārlis Zariņš, Latvia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Mr. Zariņš was authorised to defend Latvia’s interests, supervise the work of Latvia’s representations abroad and handle their finances and property.
- On 23 July 1940 US Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles issued a policy statement, which determined American policy toward Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during the Second World War and afterwards. Washington did not recognize either de facto or de iure the occupation of the three Baltic States and their incorporation into the USSR. Therefore, after the death of Ambassador Zariņš in 1963, the supervision of Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service was taken over by the Latvian embassy in Washington.
- Latvia’s gold reserves in foreign banks served as an important guarantee for the continued existence of Latvia’s statehood. The US Government allowed a part of the deposits to be turned into bonds. Revenues from the bonds were used to maintain Latvia’s representations not only in the United States but also elsewhere in the world.
Depending on each country’s view of Latvia’s occupation de facto, Latvian diplomats worked either in an official capacity or within the limits of personal diplomatic status. The status of honorary consuls was also limited. In most countries (except the United States and Australia) only acting consuls could be appointed.
Latvian organisations in exile supported the efforts of their diplomatic representations to safeguard Latvia’s statehood. Using all available legal means to persuade politicians, governments and international organizations, they worked tirelessly against the recognition de iure of Latvia’s occupation and annexation.
Between May 1946 and April 1990, Latvian diplomatic and consular representatives held 17 meetings to develop strategies for maintaining Latvia’s legally independent status. On 4 May 1990, the newly elected deputies of the Supreme Council declared in Riga the restoration of the independent and democratic Republic of Latvia. After the formation of a new government, the possibility for cooperation between the diplomats in exile and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was discussed. According to the minutes from a meeting in Washington on 14 and 15 April 1991, “Employees of Latvia’s diplomatic service abroad answer to the head of the Latvia’s mission in Washington; all of them have expressed their readiness to cooperate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.”
The position of Latvian diplomats was crucial in the years from 1988 to 1991 – the time of the national awakening and movement toward Latvia’s independence. Their position was that the de iure state be restored along with the Constitution adopted in 1922. This was an essential contribution to the preservation of Latvia’s statehood and it determined Latvia’s status in the coming years.
Until the restoration of independence on 21 August 1991, employees of the diplomatic and consular service in the West and Anatols Dinbergs, head of the service and chargé d’affaires in Washington, were recognised under international law as representatives of the legally-established government of the Republic of Latvia.
Evaluating their work in 1991, the Latvian diplomats in exile said: “we succeeded in defending Latvia’s statehood….“
HEADS OF THE DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR SERVICE
KĀRLIS ZARIŅŠ (1879 - 1963)
Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service with extraordinary powers from June 1940 - April 1963, at the same time Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain.
From January 1919, Attaché of the Latvian delegation at the Paris Peace conference. April to September, 1919 Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in Sweden. In October 1919 he became Resident Minister. From February 1921 Envoy to Finland; from April 1923, Envoy also to Sweden, Norway and Denmark, with residence in Helsinki. Between 1925 - 1930 Kārlis Zariņš was Envoy to Sweden, Norway and Denmark, residing in Stockholm. Between 1930 – 1933, he was Envoy to Estonia. From December 1931 to March 1933 Minister of Foreign Affairs. From July 1933, he was Envoy to Great Britain and Consul General in the British Commonwealth.
On May 17, 1940, by resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers Envoy Kārlis Zariņš was granted extraordinary powers to head Latvia’s diplomatic and consular missions and defend the interests of Latvia under emergency conditions.
Kārlis Zariņš never recognised the legality or legitimacy of the institutions of the Soviet occupying power and administration, and he never accept their decisions (in July,1940, he was dismissed from his post because of disciplinary violations, had his citizenship rights withdrawn, his property confiscated, was declared to be a traitor to his country).
On July 23, 1940, Kārlis Zariņš in his capacity as Envoy submitted a Note Verbale to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain, Lord Halifax, protesting the occupation of Latvia and the anticipated incorporation into the USSR.
Until the end of his days, Kārlis Zariņš headed the Latvian Legation in London and Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service. He appointed the Charge d’Affaires who were Heads of the successive Latvian Legation in the USA, as well as a Diplomatic Representative in Spain, representatives of the Foreign Service in several countries and international organizations in Geneva, and a Delegate to Germany. He appointed more than 20 acting Honorary Consuls in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, and a career Consul in Canada.
ARNOLDS SPEKKE (1887 - 1972)
Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service between May 1963 and October 1970, at the same time also Charge d’Affaires, Head of the Legation in Washington and Consul General in the USA.
From October 1933 Envoy to Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Albania (until 1939), with residence in Rome.
Protested the occupation of Latvia and anticipated incorporation into the USSR by submitting a Note Verbale to the Italian Government on July 27, 1940. On August 9, 1940 resigned from his post of his own volition. On August 11, 1940, the Legation in Rome ceased to operate.
Worked in various jobs including as a teacher, librarian and interpreter in Milan and Rome. Was the Deputy Chairperson of the Latvian Refugee Committee in Italy (1945 - 1950) and was active in the Latvian Committee in Rome. In 1951, he took part in establishing European Center for Latvian Freedom in London.
From April 1954, he was Charge d’Affaires and Head of the Latvian Legation in Washington, and from June 1954 he was also Consul General in the USA. In May 1963, he became Head of the Latvian diplomatic and consular service.
ANATOLS DINBERGS (1911 - 1993)
Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service from September 1971 to August 1991, at the same time Charge d’Affaires, Head of the Legation in Washington and Consul General in the USA.
From September 1932 trainee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 1933 - 1934 supernumerary Class III clerk at the Honorary Consulate in Lodz. 1934 - 1935 Correspondent Class III on the Western Desk and the Legal Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From June 1937, Assistant Secretary at the Consulate in New York, but from September of the same year - Attaché.
He did not recognize as legal the institutions of power and administration of the Soviet occupation and did not comply with their decisions. By a decision of the Envoy A. Bīlmanis in Washington in September 1940, he was appointed Vice Consul and Acting Head of Office ad interim of the Consulate in New York. In January 1941, he was moved to the Legation in Washington as Attaché (the Consulate was closed). From June 1949 Secretary Class I, and then from November 1954 - Counsellor to the Legation. He was the Charge d’Affaires ad interim (July 1948 - June 1949; August 1953 - May 1954). From October 1970 - Chargé d’Affaires and Head of the Legation, but from March 1971 also Consul General in the USA.
From September 1971, he headed Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service. He convened meetings of the officers of the diplomatic and consular service, in April 1991 - a meeting of the officers of the foreign service of independent Latvia. Appointed honorary consuls in the USA, Australia and France, Head of the Legation in London and Representative of Latvia’s interests in Germany. Following the regaining of independence Ambassador to the USA (September 1991 - December 1992), Resident Representative to NATO (September - December 1991). From December 1992 until the end of his days Counsellor to the Embassy in the USA.
THE LATVIA’S FOREIGN SERVICE STAFF IN EXILE
Pēteris OLIŅŠ (1890 - 1962), Charge d’Affaires in Argentine, Charge d’Affaires in Brazil (residence in Buenos Aires, later in Rio de Janeiro)
Alfredo Teodoro RŪSIŅŠ (1912 – 1978), Legal adviser at the Legation in Rio de Janeiro
Nikolajs OZOLIŅŠ (1910 - 1983) supernumerary Secretary Class III at the Legation in Buenos Aires, free lance Acting Secretary at the Honorary Consulate in San Paulo
Emils DĒLIŅŠ (1921), Honorary Vice Consul, Honorary Consul in the Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania (Honorary consul in Melbourne)
Jānis Roberts DĒLIŅŠ (1954), Secretary, Honorary Consul in Melbourne
Olģerts ROZĪTIS (1912 - 1984), Secretary Class I at the Legation in London, career Secretary, Office Manager at the Honorary Consulate in Sydney (residence in Melbourne) and the Honorary Consulate in Melbourne
BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
Herberts RĀCENIS (1894 - 1960), Honorary Vice Consul in Antwerp, after the war in Brussels
Kārlis GULBIS (1904 - 1973), Representative of the Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service in Belgium and Luxembourg
Eduards UPENIEKS (1920), Honorary Consul in Toronto
Aleksandrs BĒRZIŅŠ (1903 - 1980), Acting Honorary Vice Consul in Newfoundland
Nikolajs OZOLIŅŠ (1904 - 1979), certificated Latvian refugees in Denmark with temporary identification cards according the mandate of the Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic and consular service
Olģerds GROSVALDS (1884 - 1962), Envoy to France, after the war operated retaining the personal title of Minister
Kārlis BERENDS (1887 - 1987), Counsellor at the Legation in Paris, Chargé d’Affaires in France
Aina NAGOBADA - ĀBOLA (1920), Latvian Honorary Consul in France (in fact, acting as a Diplomatic Representative)
Roberts LIEPIŅŠ (1890 - 1978), Delegate of the Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic service to Germany
Ādolfs ŠILDE (1907 - 1990), Representative of Latvian interests in Germany.
Tālivaldis MEDNIS (1929), Representative of Latvian interests in Germany
Pēteris APMANIS (1901 – 1965), Acting Honorary Consul in Hamburg
Jāzeps ČAMANIS (1884 - 1964), Representative for the protection of the interests of Latvian citizens in Italy (without official status)
Bruno PAVASARS (1896 - 1978), Consul General in Rotterdam, after 1945 in the Hague
Arturs VANAGS (1882 - 1970), Honorary Consul General in Oslo
Roberts KAMPUSS (1899 - 1969), Secretary Class I at the Legation in Stockholm. Counsellor at the Legation in London, Diplomatic Representative in Spain
Valdemārs SALNAIS (1886 - 1948), Envoy to Sweden, from August 1940 - personal diplomatic status
Jānis TEPFERS (1898 - 1994), Representative of the Head of the Latvia’s diplomatic service for the protection of interests of Latvian citizens in Sweden
SWITZERLAND AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Arnolds SKĒBERS (1897 - 1979), Representative for the protection of the interests of Latvian refugees and displaced persons at the International Refugee Organization (IRO); Representative in international organizations located in Switzerland and Geneva
Jānis KĻAVIŅŠ - ELANSKIS (1884 - 1957), career Consul General in Bern
Teodors OZOLIŅŠ (1899 - 1981), Counsellor at the Legation in London, Chargé d’Affaires at the Legation
Pauls REINHARDS (1903 - 1990), Head of the Legation in London
Marija Anna ZARIŅA (1927), Head of the Legation in London
Kārlis KALNIŅŠ (1902 - 1967), Counsellor at the Legation in London
Emīls ZELMENIS, (until 1940 - Zolmanis), (1892 - 1979), Senior Officer of the Consular Department of the Legation in London
Pēteris PRIEDĪTIS (1896 - 1974), Officer of the Consular Department, Secretary at the Legation in London
Ēriks ŽILINSKIS (1912 - 1990), Registrar, Archivist, Consular Secretary at the Legation in London
Jānis MEŽS (1884 - 1978), Honorary Financial Attaché at the Legation in London.
Fridrihs MITENBERGS (1875 - after 1957), Honorary Consul in Newcastle upon Tyne
Pēteris PAKALNIETIS (1893 - 1960), Officer of the Consular Department at the Legation in London
Alfreds BĪLMANIS (1887 - 1948), Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the USA
Jūlijs FELDMANS (1889 - 1953), Resident Delegate to the League of Nations, Envoy to Switzerland, Charge d’Affaires in the USA
Valdemārs KREICBERGS (1912 - 1995), Secretary at the Legation in Stockholm, Counsellor at the Legation in Washington
Ludvigs ĒĶIS (1892 - 1943), Advisor in economic and financial matters at the Legation in Washington
Vilis TOMSONS (1905 - 1978), Secretary at the Legation in London, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Secretary at the Honorary Consulate in Toronto, Acting career Consul in Canada (residence in Montreal), Counsellor at the Legation in Washington
Jānis LŪSIS (1945), Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counsellor at the Legation in Washington
Rūdolfs ŠILLERS (1896 - 1981), Consul in New York, Press Attaché, Officer at the Legation in Washington
Jānis KALNIŅŠ (1907 - 1998), Head of the Consular Department at the Legation in Washington, Honorary Consul in Washington
Aivars JERUMANIS (1938), Honorary Consul in Los Angeles
Ojārs KALNIŅŠ (1949), Press Secretary and Head of public relations at the Legation in Washington
Idea of exhibition Minister of Foreign Affairs Sandra Kalniete
Conception of exhibition and research Silvija Križevica
Design and computer graphics Arnolds Bāliņš
Project manager Sarmīte Šāvēja
The exhibition was prepared by the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
and designer Arnolds Bāliņš
Installation of exhibition SIA OPEN MEDIA, administrative manager Juris Vīgners
Documents and materials were sourced at the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Historical Archives of Latvia, personal collections, National Library, Special Archives Library and Military Museum
Special thanks to Emīls Dēliņš, Ojārs Kalniņš, Īvs Kampus, Dzintars Liepiņš, Tālivaldis Mednis, Aina Nagobada Ābola, Marija Anna Zariņa.
© Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
© Arnolds Bāliņš, design