Many Latvians resisted the occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany.The Latvian resistance movement was divided between the pro-independence units under the Latvian Central Council and the pro-Soviet units under the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement in Moscow. Daugavpils was the scene of fierce Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Many local Latvians were actively involved in the resistance movement against the ethnic policies of the German occupation regime. Žanis Lipke risked his life to save more than 50 Jews. 134 Latvians were later honored with the title Righteous Among the Nations.
Latvians are a Baltic ethnic group and nation native to Latvia and the immediate geographical region, the Baltics. They are occasionally also referred to as Letts, although this term is becoming obsolete. Latvians share a common Latvian language, culture and history.
The Latvian Central Council (LCC) was the pro-independence Latvian resistance movement during World War II from 1943 onwards. The LCC consisted of members from across the spectrum of former leading Latvian politicians and aimed to be the governing body after the war. Its military units were an alternative to the Soviet partisans also operating in Latvia.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
Civic circles in Latvia were dissatisfied with the German occupation regime and secretly plotted to reinstate democracy.[ citation needed ] There were many small underground groups of the national resistance movements focused on the restoration of the independence of Latvia like The Latvian Nationalist Union, Latvian National Council, the Officer Union, organizations “The Latvian Guards”, “New Regiments“, “The Free Latvia”, “The Latvian Hawk organization” and others. The radical nationalist organization “Thundercross” was allied with the Germans in the first months after the invasion, however when repressed by the Germans it again started underground resistance.
Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a liberal democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association.
On August 13, 1943 members of four biggest Latvian political parties founded the Latvian Central Council. It published the outlawed publications Jaunā Latvija (New Latvia) and Neatkarīgā Latvija (Independent Latvia). The periodicals propagated the idea of renewing democracy in Latvia after the war.
Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, but activist groups, companies, religious organizations and the media can also produce propaganda.
The Latvian Central Council managed to form their own military unit, disguised as a Home Guard unit, commanded by General Jānis Kurelis; the men were popularly known as Kurelians (Latvian : Kurelieši). The unit was organized in July 28, 1944 by a directive from Veide, the administrator of Rīga township, for the officially avowed purpose of fighting Soviet partisans who had recently been dropped by parachutes in great numbers, and for the formation of German-supported Latvian partisan groups which would operate in Soviet-occupied Latvian regions.
Latvian or Lettish is a Baltic language spoken in the Baltic region. It is the language of Latvians and the official language of Latvia as well as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 1.3 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and 100,000 abroad. Altogether, 2 million, or 80% of the population of Latvia, speak Latvian. Of those, 1.16 million or 56% use it as their primary language at home. The use of the Latvian language in various areas of social life in Latvia is increasing.
The size of the Kurelians is uncertain. Estimates range from 1,200 to 16,000, while the Germans were told that the group had only 500 men. Volunteers were attracted by word of mouth. The Kurelians expected ultimately to fight both Soviets and Nazis and to remain in Latvia as nationalist partisans if the Germans withdrew, or even to hold a part of Latvia until help arrived from the Western Allies. On September 23 the Kurelians retreated through Rīga to northern Courland, leaving behind a group of 150 men to operate in the Soviet rear. The Kurelians assisted the Latvian Central Council “boat actions” to Sweden and established radio contacts with Sweden.
Courland, is one of the historical and cultural regions in western Latvia. The largest city is Liepāja, the third largest city in Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland as they were formerly held by the same duke.
On November 14 the Germans surrounded and disarmed the Kurelians. Seven of their officers (including Upelnieks, the member of the military committee of the underground Latvian Central Council) were sentenced to death by a Nazi military tribunal and shot in Liepāja on November 19. A Kurelian battalion commanded by Lt. Rubenis fought the Germans for three days and was annihilated; Rubenis fell during a Latvian counter-attack trying to break through the German encirclement but some of the Kurelians escaped. General Kurelis was deported to Germany. 545 of his men were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp.
Liepāja is a city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region and the third largest city in the country after Riga and Daugavpils. It is an important ice-free port. In 2017 population of Liepāja is 69,443 people.
Stutthof was a Nazi German concentration camp established in a secluded, wet, and wooded area near the small town of Sztutowo 34 km (21 mi) east of the city of Danzig in the former territory of the Free City of Danzig. The camp was set up around existing structures after the invasion of Poland in World War II, used for the imprisonment of Polish leaders and intelligentsia. The actual barracks were built the following year by hundreds of prisoners.
Armed combat behind the German front lines was carried out by the soldiers of the Red Army units: Latvian Riflemen Soviet Divisions and people guards. Activity picked up in 1942, one year after the first winter war, but real work by the partisans in Latvia started only in 1943 after the German Army Group B stalled at Stalingrad and Kursk. [ citation needed ] Since the local population in Latvia would not support Soviet partisans, they could not gain a foothold. From January 1943 the Red Partisans in Latvia were directly subordinated to the central headquarters in Moscow under the leadership of Arturs Sproģis. Another prominent commander was Vilis Samsons, who later became a historian. Altogether Latvia had 24 partisan units, together with 33 smaller groups. From March 1944 until July they formed 4 partisan brigades: 1st Brigade with about 3000 men (commander V. Samsons) fought in Northern and Northeastern Latvia. 2nd Brigade (about 1500 men, commander P. Ratins) fought in the centre of Latvia. 3rd Brigade (about 500 men, commander Otomars Oškalns) fought at Zemgale, along with the 4th Brigade, also with about 500 men.[ citation needed ] The Leningrad partisan brigade, which consisted only of Russians (commander M. Klementyev) fought around Lake Lubāns. In 1944 and 1945 in Courland they formed many partisan units (2 to 12 men each) which, though small, were very active. Most noted was "Sarkana bulta". The Latvian Red partisans suffered great losses, and many from smaller groups were completely eliminated. The Red partisan movement in Latvia ended in October 1944.The partisan regiment "To padomju Latviju" was organized and started training in June 1942 in Leningrad, and from Staraya Russa three small Latvian partisan units (about 200 men) headed for Latvia. On July 7 the regiment reached the Latvian Kārsava region, but there the Germans found and dispersed them with great losses and only several partisans escaped. The next partisan unit was formed in September 1942 by Moscow from volunteers from 201st Latvian Riflemen Division and the Latvian partisan regiment "Par Padomju Latviju". The commander was Vilis Samsons. This partisan regiment began fighting east of the Latvian border and only in the winter of 1943 did it start to fight in Latvia. In March this unit was renamed as the Latvian Partisan Brigade.
After the end of World War II, resistance continued against the Soviet regime. From 1945 to 1956, around 40,000 were involved in the national partisan resistance movement.
In the 1990s the former Soviet partisan Vassili Kononov was accused of war crimes.
The Italian resistance movement is an umbrella term for Italian resistance groups during World War II. It was opposed to the forces of Nazi Germany as well as their puppet state local regime, the Italian Social Republic, especially following the German military occupation of Italy between September 1943 and April 1945, though the resistance to the Fascist Italian government began even prior to World War II. The movement that rose among Italians of various social classes is also known as the Italian resistance and the Italian partisans, and the brutal conflict they took part in is referred to as the Italian Liberation War or as the Italian Civil War. The modern Italian Republic was declared to be founded on the struggle of the Resistance.
The Lokot Autonomy was a semi-autonomous region in Nazi German-occupied Central Russia led by Bronislav Kaminski's administration from July 1942 to August 1943. The name is derived from the region's administrative center, the urban-type settlement of Lokot in Oryol Oblast.
The Forest Brothers were Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans who waged a guerrilla war against Soviet rule during the Soviet invasion and occupation of the three Baltic states during, and after, World War II. Similar anti-Soviet Eastern European resistance groups fought against Soviet and communist rule in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and western Ukraine.
The Dirlewanger Brigade, also known as the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger (1944), or the 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, was a unit of the Waffen-SS during World War II. The unit was led by Oskar Dirlewanger and was composed of violent criminals convicted of major crimes such as premeditated murder, rape, arson and burglary who were expected to die fighting on the front line. Originally formed for counter-insurgency duties against the Polish resistance movement, it was used in the Bandenbekämpfung actions in German-occupied Europe. During operations, the unit engaged in pillaging and mass murder of civilians.
The 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS , Estonian: 20. eesti diviis) was a foreign infantry division of the Waffen-SS, an armed branch of the German Nazi Party that served alongside but was never formally part of the Wehrmacht during World War II. According to some sources, the division was under Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's overall command but was not an integral part of the Schutzstaffel (SS). It was officially activated on 24 January 1944, and many of its soldiers had been members of the Estonian Legion and/or the 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade, which had been fighting as part of German forces since August 1942 and October 1943 respectively. Both of the preceding formations drew their personnel from German-occupied Estonia. Shortly after its official activation, widespread conscription within Estonia was announced by the German occupying authorities. The division was formed in Estonia around a cadre comprising the 3rd Estonian SS Volunteer Brigade, and was initially known as the 20th Estonian SS Volunteer Division.
The Soviet partisans were members of resistance movements that fought a guerrilla war against the Axis forces in the Soviet Union, the previously Soviet-occupied territories of interwar Poland in 1941–45 and eastern Finland. The activity emerged after the Nazi German Operation Barbarossa during World War II, and according to Great Soviet Encyclopedia it was coordinated and controlled by the Soviet government and modelled on that of the Red Army. The partisans made significant contributions to the war by frustrating German plans to exploit occupied Soviet territories economically, gave considerable help to the Soviet Army by conducting systematic strikes against Germany's rear communication network, disseminated political work among the local population by publishing newspapers and leaflets, and succeeded in creating and maintaining a feeling of insecurity among German forces.
Resistance movements during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation to propaganda to hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns. In many countries, resistance movements were sometimes also referred to as The Underground.
S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. was a collaborationist formation composed of Soviet nationals from the territory of Lokot Autonomy during German-occupied areas of Russia during the German-Soviet War of 1939−45.
The occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany was completed on July 10, 1941 by Germany's armed forces. Latvia became a part of Nazi Germany's Reichskommissariat Ostland—the Province General of Latvia. Anyone not racially acceptable or who opposed the German occupation, as well as those who had cooperated with the Soviet Union, were killed or sent to concentration camps in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost.
The Belarusian Resistance during World War II opposed Nazi Germany from 1941 until 1944. Belarus was one of the Soviet republics occupied during Operation Barbarossa.
The Latvian Legion was a formation of the German Waffen-SS during World War II. Created in 1943, it consisted primarily of ethnic Latvian personnel. The legion consisted of two divisions of the Waffen-SS: the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, and the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS. The 15th Division was administratively subordinated to the VI SS Corps, but operationally it was in reserve or at the disposal of the XXXXIII Army Corps, 16th Army, Army Group North. The 19th Division held out in the Courland Pocket until May 1945, the close of World War II, when it was among the last of Nazi Germany's forces to surrender.
Vassili Makarovich Kononov or Vasiliy Makarovich Kononov was a Soviet partisan during World War II, who was convicted by Latvian supreme court as a war criminal. He is the only former Soviet partisan convicted of crimes against humanity.
The occupation of the Baltic states by Nazi Germany occurred during Operation Barbarossa from 1941 to 1944. Initially, many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians considered the Germans as liberators from the Soviet Union. The Balts hoped for the restoration of independence, but instead the Germans established a provisional government. During the occupation the Germans carried out discrimination, mass deportations and mass killings generating Baltic resistance movements.
The Bulgarian Resistance was part of the anti-Axis resistance during World War II. It consisted of armed and unarmed actions of resistance groups against the Wehrmacht forces in Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Bulgaria authorities. It was mainly communist and pro-Soviet Union. Participants in the armed resistance were called partizanin and yatak.
The Soviet partisans in Latvia were Soviet partisans who were deployed to Latvia and attempted to wage guerrilla warfare against the German armed forces during the German occupation of Latvia. Partisan activity was singularly unsuccessful in Latvia due to the general resistance of the population to the Soviet regime that the partisans represented.
Latvian Auxiliary Police was a paramilitary force created from Latvian volunteers by the Nazi German authorities who occupied the country in June 1941. It was part of the Schutzmannschaft (Shuma), native police forces organized by the Germans in occupied territories and subordinated to the Order Police. Some units of the Latvian auxiliary police were involved in the Holocaust. One of its units, the Arajs Kommando, was notorious for killing 26,000 civilians during the war, mostly Jews, but also Communists and Romas.
Latvian national partisans were the Latvian national partisans who waged guerrilla warfare against Soviet rule during and after Second World War.
The 1st SS Infantry Brigade was a unit of the German Waffen SS formed from former concentration camp guards for service in the Soviet Union behind the main front line during the Second World War. They conducted Nazi security warfare in the rear of the advancing German troops and took part in the Holocaust. The unit also filled gaps in the front line when called upon in emergencies. In 1944, the brigade was used as the cadre in the formation of the SS Division Horst Wessel.
Slovak partisans were fighters in irregular military groups participating in the Slovak resistance movement, including against Nazi Germany and collaborationism during World War II.