Exhibition "Political Persecution of Latvian Foreign Service Personnel in the Wake of the Soviet Occupation of Latvia"
"DOOMED TO SUFFER"
Following the Soviet invasion in 1940, Latvian diplomats and their families were subjected to politically-motivated persecution and punishment
As soon as Soviet forces which occupied Latvia in June 1940 had sufficiently established and consolidated themselves, they began to implement measures to exact punishment against possible enemies of the new order and to eradicate those that might be suspected of maintaining loyalty to Latvia. The methods and actions conducted against the Latvian people were especially visible in the treatment meted out against Latvian Foreign Service personnel. Diplomats were among the Latvians destined to bear the brunt of the Soviet campaign to psychologically dominate and physically subjugate Latvia. Diplomatic work on behalf of Latvia was construed to constitute counter-revolutionary activity and called for punishments in line with the relevant chapters and procedures set down in the criminal code of the occupying state's authority.
Evidence of 51 separate decisions against Latvian Foreign Service personnel are documented. Let the figures speak for themselves.
Total number of documented incidents of political persecution:
July 1940 - June 14, 1941 - 19
June 14 - June 19, 1941 - 26
1942-1949 - 6
Of these, 21 persons were imprisoned, 25 were placed in concentration camps, 5 were deported and exiled. Sentences were handed down both by courts and through extra-judicial procedures: 11 cases involved enactment of a death sentence, 4 cases of imprisonment, 11 cases of being condemned to hard labour, and one deportation.
20 persons died in concentration camps or prisons while awaiting trial and 7 died while fulfilling the terms of their imprisonment. One died in exile.
Of the 51, records show that 11 returned to Latvia following punishment. One person is unaccounted for.
This exhibition gives an accounting or "balance sheet" of persecution of Latvian diplomats which is certainly incomplete. We may never possess the full records of the injustices and abuse.
The work for a full accounting must be continued and an attempt ought to be made to locate and analyse the records concerning all the employees who worked in the Latvian service and the sad and awful fate which awaited them during the Soviet occupation.
In the light of our renewed freedom, it is our duty to try to come to a full understanding of events which took place during the occupation, to unearth the evidence, and to enshrine the memories of these men and women who loyally served their country and paid for their patriotism with their lives.
The exhibit was prepared by the Records Management Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.
Documents and materials were sourced at the State Historical Archives, the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and the State Audiovisual Document Archive.
Layout of the exhibit by Aigars Lenkevics and Erika Maldere.
Special thanks to the State Archives of Latvia.