Memorial To WW2 Soviet Navy Personnel Demolished in Latvia

Soviet Navy Marines In WW2. RIA Novosti archive, image #834147 / Haldei / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Soviet Navy Marines In WW2. RIA Novosti archive, image #834147 / Haldei / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Daugavas Vanagi (the Daugava Hawks) is a neo-Nazi group in Latvia. They call themselves an organization of the former Nazi Waffen SS Legion veterans.

With the support of the National Alliance, a nationalist party that is part of the ruling coalition in the Latvian parliament, they have demolished a monument to fallen Soviet sailors in the northern Latvian town of Limbazi. The National Alliance placed a video of the demolition on their Facebook page.

In the description for the video, the party said that activists destroyed the monument to Soviet sailors who “killed some locals and then died themselves”. The monument was erected in 1975 to commemorate the Soviets sailors that died there in 1941 after defending the area from Nazi invasion.

The National Alliance is the fourth largest party in Latvia. It is made up of the nationalist For the Fatherland and FreedomLNNK.

Russia condemned the destruction of the monument. Local authorities did not back down, however, stating that the monument was in a state of disrepair, was a threat to school children in the neighborhood, and was not on a list of Soviet-era monuments protected from destruction.

Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, stated: “We regard the demolition of a monument to the Soviet sailors unacceptable and contradictory to the bilateral intergovernmental agreement, which obliges the Latvian side to provide care, maintenance, and security for the memorials.”

She also stated that Russia expected a “swift reaction” by the Latvian authorities.

In 2015, Polish authorities destroyed a monument to a Russian WWII general. In April 2016, Russia’s Public Chamber addressed UNESCO and OSCE to ask them to help protect Soviet-era WWII memorials.

Maria Zakharova added that the planned campaign “was bordering barbarism and was launched with the intention of erasing from the Polish people’s memory the fact that the Red Army saved them from total annihilation by the Nazis.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE