The Rise and Fall of the Latvian National Communists
Chapter 2. Between the Anvil and the Hammer: National Communists, Cadres & Beria, 1946–1953
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BETWEEN THE ANVIL AND THE HAMMER
National Communists, Cadres & Beria, 1946–1953
Give the Devil your pinkie and he takes the hand.
Now those who were arrested will return and two Russias will look each other in the eye: the one that sent people to the camps and the one that was sent away.
The Early Years of National Communism
17 JUNE 1940 marked a seminal day in Latvian history. The Red Army entered the tiny republic in force to set up a permanent Soviet government. Tanks rumbled down the embassy-lined boulevard that hugs Riga’s Old Town, while menacing war planes growled slowly over the spires of Riga in an intimidating display of force. In the days that followed, “spontaneous” and “mass” demonstrations erupted in the streets. Stalin’s henchman in Latvia, Andrei Vyshinskii, orchestrated the marches like an accomplished puppet master, amplifying the number of participants by importing Soviet demonstrators and giving workers and military personnel leave. Some estimates put the number of demonstrators at twenty-five thousand, but the majority were curious ← 21 | 22 → onlookers. The two groups sporadically clashed in street fights. Placards peppered the crowds proclaiming “Long Live Soviet Latvia” and “Land to the Petty Landowners and Landless.”1 For most, Vyshinkii’s cynical parody must have seemed horrifically surreal. After gaining independence from Russia only twenty years earlier, the Latvians could only watch helplessly...
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