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The Rise and Fall of the Latvian National Communists


William D. Prigge

The 1959 purge of the Latvian national communists has long been cast in black-and-white terms: Russification and resistance; victimizers and victims. Conventional wisdom holds that Nikita Khrushchev was behind the purge. After all, he was the Soviet premier; he stopped in Riga just a few weeks before; even the leading victim of the purge, Eduards Berklavs, labeled Khrushchev the culprit. For the first time, William D. Prigge’s penetrating analysis challenges this view and untangles the intricacies of Soviet center-periphery relations like a political thriller. With each new chapter, a truer understanding of events comes into sharper focus – more complex and fascinating than could ever be imagined. Ultimately, the reverberations are felt all the way to the Kremlin and weaken what Khrushchev thought was his own firm footing. For the student of Soviet and Latvian history alike, this volume provides more than just the story of a purge – it is a unique snapshot into the political machinations of the Soviet Union and one of its republics.
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SUCH WORKS can never be done without the help of others. I would prefer to keep anonymous the person to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude. Because of this book’s sensitive nature, I do not want to do anything to cause this man embarrassment within the Latvian community, but you know who you are. As my professor, mentor and friend, I know how much you care for your country and its history is not a light matter. Even if you may not agree with some of the conclusions, I want you to know that I sought to give an account as fair, honest and even-handed as the evidence would allow. I wanted to treat the historical actors with dignity, including your good friend, Eduards Berklavs. Thank you for everything and I hope you find this a meaningful contribution to our understanding of the past. I would also like to acknowledge the help of my other key mentor, Dr. Alan Ball, who graciously served as my advisor and sounding board on this project. My work and travel would not have been possible without the financial support of the Fulbright Hays Research Fellowship as well as the family of Cyril E. Smith family of Milwaukee, WI. While I would like to the thank the State Archives of the Russian Federation, the Library of Congress Dmitrii Volkogonov Collection, and the National Library of Latvia, I want to reserve special thanks for the archivists at the Latvian State Archives who...

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