Politics 10 April 2015 103 28758
70 years ago Europe was severely threatened by Fascism, but is the continent now witnessing a nationalist renaissance? One former Latvian Waffen SS fighter openly presents his perspective on the situation, while survivors from Salaspils, a concentration camp in Latvia, are disturbed and terrified by recent events, sharing their heartbreaking memories. Salaspils is a dark page in human history, in history of Latvia, perhaps that’s why so many seem to be trying to rewrite it.
During the events of the war, Latvia saw the coming of soldiers from both Germany and the Soviet Union. However, opinions there vary on who were the true “liberators”.
One of the most chilling reminders of the Nazi occupation is the remnants of the Salaspils concentration camp. Official Latvian history claims that it was a work education camp, but the words of the Salaspils survivors tell a different story – One of nightmare and death. Forensic evidence does prove that thousands of people died within the walls of Salaspils. We hear from several such survivors, who were but children back then, as they tell about their time there.
Nazi occupation of Latvia also resulted in the formation of Latvian soldiers into the Waffen SS, Nazi-aligned military units. We meet one of the last, if not the very last, of these soldiers remaining in Latvia. He unabashedly tells a very different story than that of the Salaspils survivors. In our story, he represents those Latvians who looked favorably upon the Germans, believing that they would free Latvia from the “barbaric” Soviet occupation.
Many critics find flawed logic in this new generation of fascists and neo-Nazi groups in Europe, seeing as they were born in the modern age, and didn’t experience the war themselves. A great deal of people also believe that the Latvian government is turning a blind eye to what occurred there during WWII.