Annual Latvian Waffen SS March

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On Thursday, in spite of intense criticism from anti-fascist activists worldwide, Latvian Waffen SS veterans and their supporters marched through Riga’s streets.

Several thousand people, including several Latvian lawmakers and nationalists from neighboring Lithuania and Estonia, gathered in central Riga Thursday to mark ‘Remembrance Day of the Latvian Legionnaire’ –a commemorative event dedicated to the Waffen-SS formations formed by the German’s in occupied Latvia in 1943. On March 16, 1944, the Latvian Legion engaged in its first battle with the Red Army, with commemorations to that event held since the 1990s after Latvia regained its independence from the Soviet Union.

The column proceeded from the Riga Cathedral to the Freedom Monument, laying flowers to the memorial.

According to police, about 2,000 people took part in the march, which is up from about 600 last year. Police told Sputnik Latvia that five protesters, including two Latvian Anti-Fascist Committee members, were detained. Two young men shouting offensive comments at the legionnaires were also detained. Administrative charges have been filed against two protestors. Police also forced two members of the German anti-fascist movement to take down their posters.

The Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee refused to hold their own meeting at the allotted place and time, after the Riga City Council only allotted them space for their protest under a bridge near a canal, which they found to be humiliating.

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SS veterans and their supporters have been gathering yearly in Riga since 1994. The nationalist group Daugavas Vanagi (‘Hawks of the Daugava’), formed in 1945 by ex-legionnaires, is the main organizer of the event. About 150,000 mostly ethnic Latvians served in Latvia’s two Waffen SS grenadier divisions.

Published in: on March 17, 2017 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment