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The truth about Baltic SS military divisions
    • 2010-03-15

    The truth about Baltic SS military divisions

    "The Baltic SS military divisions (Baltic legions) in the view of their aim, ideology, activity and qualification of their contents should be considered as separate formations and different from German SS divisions, therefore the commission does not regard them as hostile movement to the USA government policy according to the amendments made in the Law about displaced persons, paragraph 13." (by Harry N. Rozenfield, member of the Commission of Displaced Persons). (The source: "Latvian Legion. Heroes, Nazis or victims? A collection of documents From OSS War-Crimes investigation files 1945-1950. Riga: The Historical Institute of Latvia, 1997).

    In 1943, February 10th, by violating the international Hague Convention of year 1907 about the regulations for warfare provisions which forbade the occupation states to mobilize the local population, the leader of Germany Adolf Hitler issued the command about the formation of Latvian Legion from the citizens of the Republic of Latvia which was at that time occupied by Germany. The service in Legion was "voluntary" obligatory, that is, in case of holdout it would qualify for prison sentence for desertion. It can not be denied that a big part of people joined the legion at the very beginning of its formation, in order not to allow the repeated invasion of the Soviet Union into the territory of Latvia. All together there were five big mobilization rounds, as a result of which about 115 000 Latvian soldiers were fighting in the armed forces of German army. From all mobilized Latvians two divisions were formed - Number 15 and Number 19 Waffen (weapon) SS divisions. Many legionnaires formed also the base for 11 years long resistance movement against Soviet occupation.

    To testify that Latvians were loyal to their belief and confidence in free Latvia, it should be mentioned that the answers in the legion were replied only in Latvian language, even if it was subordinated by Waffen SS. The Latvian commanders protected the insiders and did not allow the German high command to treat Latvian legionnaires with disregard. Although the most of Legion was commanded by Latvians, the highest command consisted of Germans.

    In March 16 -18, 1944, both Legion divisions the only time fought together, shoulder to shoulder, in the battle near the Velikaya River, therefore the organization "Daugavas Vanagi" (The Daugava Hawks) in the West in 1952 chose this day - March 16, as the remembrance day of legion. March 16 is not the day of the formation of legion, but it is the remembrance and memory day of Latvian Legion and the killed soldiers.

    In 1950 the USA Commission of Displaced persons recognized that the Legion has not been involved in the war crimes. Latvian Legion was formed as a pure battlefront division in the war against the Soviet Union.


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