Organizers of March 16 events have withdrawn their applications due to epidemiological situation

  • 2021-03-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The organizers of Latvian Legion Day events, as well as their opponents, have withdrawn their applications due to the epidemiological situation, LETA found out from the Riga City Council.

Both applicants withdrew their applications after the municipality reminded them about the national restrictions associated with the epidemiological situation, which prohibits the holding of public events, including meetings, marches and pickets.

Meanwhile, the National Alliance, which usually organizes a procession on this day from St John's Church to the Freedom Monument, told LETA that it will look for solutions how to honor fallen legionnaires in accordance with the current restrictions.

The March 16 Latvian Legion Day is an unofficial remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires. Latvian Legion Day was established in exile by the Daugavas Vanagi association. March 16 was chosen as the most appropriate date because on March 16, 1944, both divisions of the Latvian Legion fought alongside for the first time against the Red Army. It was the only battle in World War II led solely by Latvian commanders.

Many Latvians, who were forcibly called up to join the Latvian SS Legion, saw the German army as a lesser of two evils. For many of these soldiers, the choice to join the Latvian SS Legion was a result of the brutal Soviet occupation between 1940 and 1941, during which tens of thousands of Latvians were executed or deported to Siberia. Many soldiers naively believed that, if they helped Germany win the war, Latvia might be rewarded with independence or autonomy.

In Latvia the Legionnaires are being commemorated for fighting against the Soviet occupation and for Latvia's freedom but the Nazi connection causes great controversy abroad with Russia in particular taking the opportunity to trumpet about rebirth of Nazism in Latvia, and every year there are groups of pro-Russia activists holding demonstrations in Riga on March 16 to protest marking of the Latvian Legion Day.