On 14 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a commemorative event on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the deportations of 14 June 1941 entitled “Accused of being a member of the Foreign Service. 14 June 1941” (Apsūdzība: Ārlietu dienesta darbinieks. 1941.gada 14.jūnijs.)
Today we commemorate the 75th anniversary since the beginning of Soviet deportations which also subjected Latvian diplomats, among other innocent people, to repression and persecution. Their only crime was the fight for the independence of Latvia, its statehood and international recognition de iure. The Latvian Foreign Service must also make every effort today so that these terrible pages in Latvia’s history are never again re-opened. Let us always remember and pay tribute to these Latvian diplomats who gave the most precious they had – their lives – in the line of duty, said Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs in his remarks to the audience
Reflections, memories and research experience were shared by Iveta Šķiņķe, Head of the Foreign Service History and Diplomatic Documents Division and Pauls Gailītis, Senior Desk Officer, a great-grandson of a persecuted diplomat Pauls Gailītis, as well as Mārtiņš Kaprāns, researcher in the field of social memory.
To commemorate the Foreign Service staff members – victims of repressions, the Foreign Ministry is presenting an exhibition prepared especially for this event: the original case files on arrestsof seven Latvian diplomats. Seventy-one former staff members of the Latvian Foreign Service who were also subjected to political persecution and repression from 1940 to 1949 have been identified until now.
The ground for the arrest of the Latvian diplomats was their political or administrative work in which they engaged before the Soviet occupation, and in the arrests of 14 June these people were labelled as “socially dangerous elements”. All those interested now have access to academic studies on campaigns of political persecution and repression and to memoires of the deported; however, the current exhibition offers insights with the presence of original documents that are not on public display on a daily basis – the actual case files of the convicted staff of the Latvian Foreign Service.
The Soviet structures utilising repressive measures launched their political persecution in 1940 to counter organised resistance and to neutralise those individuals that were thought capable of acting in opposition the occupying regime of the USSR. Arrests of Latvian public officials and notable political figures, including diplomats, began as early as in July 1940 and then were strengthened in October 1940. The majority of the Foreign Service staff with their families was among those 15,443 residents of Latvia who fell victim to the deportations of 14 June 2941.
Looking toward Latvia’s upcoming centennial in 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intends to modify the existing memorial plaque by adding 23 more names of diplomats as the result of research on their cases which has been completed over the past three years.
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