Exhibition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the deportations of 14 June 1941
(in the lobby of the Foreign Ministry building)
Deportations occupy a special place in Latvian history. They have influenced the nation’s collective memory, the system of common values, and national identity. They are part of political repression and persecution that took place during the Soviet occupation. Because the wider society was affected, the deportations have been imprinted as an especially vivid memory.
Accused of being a member of the Foreign Service. 14 June 1941
By 2001, marking the 60th anniversary of the deportations, the Foreign Ministry had identified 51 former staff members of the Latvian Foreign Service who had been subject to political repression, 26 of them were arrested during the wave of deportations on 14 June 1941. At this point in time, commemorating the 75th anniversary, 19 more names of diplomats have been added to the list of the victims. All those interested in the subject have access to academic studies on campaigns of political repression and to memoires of the deported; however, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now offering insight into original documents not available for viewing on a daily basis – the case files of the convicted staff of the Latvian Foreign Service.
The ground for their arrest was their political activities or administrative work before the occupation, and in the arrests of 14 June these people were categorised as “socially dangerous elements”.
The Soviet repressive structures launched political persecution in 1940 to prevent organised resistance and to neutralise those considered in opposition to the occupational regime of the USSR. Arrests of Latvian public officials and notable political figures, including diplomats, began as early as in July 1940 increasing in intensity as from October. The majority of the Foreign Service staff with their families were among those 15,443 Latvian people who fell victim to the deportations of 14 June 1941.
All of them were charged and convicted under the Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, due to their activities before the occupation, and accused in fact of having worked for the benefit of their country with integrity, selflessly and wisely. The charges were formulated as follows: “signed international treaties”, “took part in international conferences”, “served as Director of the Administrative Department”, “Director of the Treaties Department”, “worked as a diplomat”, “assumed a senior position at the Latvian Foreign Ministry”, “received foreign awards”, “was a member of the Farmers Union”, “was a member of the Parliament”, “was a member of the Aizsargi Organisation (National Guard)”, “decorated with the Cross of Recognition, the Three Stars Order”.
Not only the individuals in question but also their family members were persecuted. Latvia’s intellectual elite that had been created in a little more than two decades of independence was subject to purposeful extermination.
The display shows the original case files on arrests of Latvian diplomats kept in the State Archives of Latvia, which is part of the National Archives of Latvia:
- Hermanis Albats, the MFA administrator, Secretary General, died in the Vyatka Camp in 1942;
- Teodors Anševics, Director of the Administrative Department, died in the Suzdal Prison in 1942;
- Pauls Gailītis, a department director, died in the Vyatka Camp in 1943; his wife and children were also deported;
- Ernests Girgensons, Counsellor, Secretary of the 1st Class, returned to Latvia after serving his sentence; his wife was also deported;
- Andrejs Kampe, a department director, sentenced to death by firing squad, sentence executed on 16.03.1942;
- Mārtiņš Ņukša, Ambassador Secretary General, sentenced to death by firing squad, sentence executed on 17.05.1942; his wife and son were also deported;
- Arturs Stegmanis, a department director, returned to Latvia after serving his sentence in 1965; his wife and daughter were also deported.