Welsh-Latvian ties

  • 2004-11-10
  • By Dr. Andris Lielmanis
It was with great pleasure that I observe that Latvia and Wales (Enter the Cymru Dragon, #430) are renewing old relationships. Born in Madliena, Latvia, 1944, my mother, Resi, and I were plucked from a German DP camp in 1948 to live with Dr. Gwenan Jones, a lecturer at the University College of Aberystwyth, my mother initially worked as a housekeeper, then became a teacher and a distinguished artist and sculptress.

Welcomed by the inhabitants of the little village named Llandre, who remembered the Latvian choirs that had attended the Welsh song festivals, called Eisteddfods, between the wars, we quickly became a part of that community.

The great Welsh Bard Dewi Morgan was a frequent visitor, and as the editor of the Cambrian News, he wrote very sympathetic articles regarding the plight of the Latvian people and their oppression by the Soviet occupiers.

In 1967, at the request of my step-father, Janis Andrups, I wrote to my local MP, the Labor member Elystan Morgan [now Lord Elystan], whom I'd known since childhood, raising the topic of the Latvian gold, held in trust by the British government during the Soviet occupation and which the Labor Prime Minister Wilson was going to sell, at the behest of the U.S.S.R., to settle old debts.

Elystan raised the topic in Parliament, which got the 'ball rolling,' a complex saga recorded by Janis Andrups' book "Latviesi Lielbritanija," culminating in 1992, when the then PM John Major corrected the "smear of dishonor of 1967" returning Latvia's gold to its rightful owner, the people of a free Latvia.

May the bonds between Wales and Latvia strengthen and flourish over future generations.

Dr. Andris Lielmanis.


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