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Latvian court allows march honouring Waffen SS forces
March participants in Riga, 2008. Photo: DPA

Latvian court allows march honouring Waffen SS forces

Published: 16 Mar 2011 12:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2011 12:55 GMT+01:00

Hundreds of people met in the Latvian capital of Riga on Wednesday to remember World War II veterans who fought with Nazi Germany in the Waffen SS, after a court overturned a ban on the controversial annual gathering.

On Tuesday, a Riga court removed the city council’s ban on the “Legion Day,” allowing the veterans and their supporters to march through the city centre the next day.

They plan to commemorate the some 140,000 Latvian men who fought against the Russians with the German military.

Latvia was occupied by the Red Army in 1940, and many residents saw the Germans as liberators when they marched in one year later. A number of men subsequently volunteered or were conscripted into the Latvian Legion, an offshoot of the Waffen SS.

While the group, nationalist veterans’ organisation Daugavas Vanagi, says the march is simply a remembrance of those forced to wear the Nazi uniform, critics allege that it actually exalts the fascist forces.

“A brave Latvian leader must say to his people: These should not be heroes to a democratic member of the European Union,” director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Efraim Zuroff told German news agency DPA.

A group of ethnic Russians also gathered in central Riga to protest the march, saying it dishonoured their fight against Nazi Germany, according to news agency AP.

A large number of police were also reportedly on hand to ensure the ceremony was conducted peacefully.

The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:56 March 16, 2011 by wood artist
It is so difficult to separate what they fought against from what they fought for.

wa
20:22 March 16, 2011 by delvek
Its vital to remember those that lost their lives in service to their country, even if the end goal of the State was unjust.
00:51 March 17, 2011 by orthar
Yes, people like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arajs_Commando are 'vital to remember' :-/
02:45 March 17, 2011 by andyjackson
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
05:56 March 17, 2011 by DOZ
Remember all those who died for their Leaders craziness, because it never ends.
07:13 March 17, 2011 by Take pause...
I note that none of the marchers in the picture appear old enough to have fought in that war. What are they remembering?
09:45 March 17, 2011 by moistvelvet
@Take pause, from your comment you seem to suggest that the UK should no longer bother with the Armistice parade and rememberance. Do you actually have to be a witness to an event to remember those who were killed? I wasn't in Japan last week so does that mean I shouldn't think about the 1,000s that died?

At the end of the day these were husbands, fathers and sons, soldiers that died serving their nation, for that they should be remembered.
09:55 March 17, 2011 by michael4096
"It is so difficult to separate what they fought against from what they fought for."

Only with hindsight. I suspect that the issues were clearer at the time these guys signed up
19:01 March 19, 2011 by Rosenkranz
Quote: "I note that none of the marchers in the picture appear old enough to have fought in that war. What are they remembering? "

What if they had relatives, fathers, uncles, brothers, who fought? Go take your medication.
11:49 September 9, 2012 by Gederts Skerstens
No Apologies.

If Mass-murder is the ultimate Evil, the Communists have it in spades.

40 million in Asia, 30 million in Continental Europe.

No apologies for killing mass-murderers in defense of our Nations.

None.
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