Vaidere calls for preservation of monument to Latvian Legionnaires in Belgium's Zedelgem

  • 2021-07-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - European Parliament member Inese Vaidere has sent a letter to Zedelgem municipality in Belgium, calling for preservation of a monument to Latvian Legionnaires who were prisoners of war in the Zedelgem camp after World War II, as Vaidere's public relations advisor Girts Salmgriezis informed LETA.

"When I learned that the monument to the Latvian soldiers was to be torn down, I realized I had to do something, fast," said Vaidere. She turned to other MEPs who jointly sent a letter to the Zedelgem municipality to explain the historical importance of the monument, refute false claims about the Latvian Legion, and call for preservation of the monument.

According to Vaidere, several Belgian media reported that representatives of different local political parties recently put pressure on Zedelgem municipality to have the monument torn down, arguing that the monument was "honoring Nazi collaborators". As a result, Zedelgem municipality has decided to rename Brivibaplein (Freedom Square), where the monument is located, and replace the plaque at the monument.

"It is obvious that local politicians do not know historical facts and are have come under pressure "from the outside". That is why we explain in the letter that Latvian Legionnaires were drafted into the German army against their will, and the international community has agreed that they had nothing to do with Nazi crimes against humanity," said Vaidere.

The letter has been signed by MEPs from several EU member countries who represent different EP political groups. Vaidere hopes that Zedelgem municipality will take the letter into consideration and preserve the monument.

The monument to 12,000 Latvian prisoners of war, Latvian Beehive for Freedom, was unveiled in 2018 by the Mayor of Zedelgem Annick Vermeulen, Latvian Ambassador Ilze Ruse, and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia board chairman Valter Nollendorfs. The sculptor of the monument, Kristaps Gulbis explained that bees were peaceful - they did not attack anyone, but they would defend their beehive and their freedom.