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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Prigge, William D. Bearslayers: the rise and fall of the Latvian National Communists / William D. Prigge. pages cm. — (American university studies X. Political science; Vol. 71) Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Latvijas Komunistiska Partija—History.  2. Communism—Latvia—History—20th century. 3. Nationalism—Latvia—History—20th century.  4. Latvia—Politics and government— 20th century.  5. Latvia—History—1940–1991.  I. Title. II. Title: Rise and fall of the Latvian National Communists. JN6739.A8K5732  324.24796’07509045—dc23  2014037498 ISBN 978-1-4331-2734-2 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4539-1468-7 (e-book) ISSN 0740-0470

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

Center cover image: Peters J. Vecrumba. Freedom Monument, Riga, Latvia, Lāčplēsis (Bear-Slayer) design element. Riga, Latvia.

© 2015 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006

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