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Defunding the Myths and Cults of
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Defunding Cold War Canada
Table of Contents
Canada’s anti-Red, Cold War
propaganda in context
Since its creation in 1948, LNAK has had the same political fixations as other émigré groups in Canada whose leaders also included war criminals and Nazi collaborators. Seeing Latvia as one of the many ethnic nationalities "enslaved" within the multicultural USSR, LNAK worked with profascist, Cold-War networks like the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the World AntiCommunist League. LNAK was also active in leading Canada’s "Captive Nations" movement and remains central to its Black Ribbon Day crusade.
Although LNAK claims to hate communism and fascism, its first leader was a top Nazi collaborator. Janis Niedra (1908-69), who fled Latvia to safety in Germany and then to Canada in 1951, was LNAK’s first president in 1954,1 its vice president in 1961,2 its chair in 1963-693 and president in 1969.4
During the Operation-Barbarossa invasion the USSR in June 1941, when the Nazis entered the Latvian town of Tukums, they were aided by Janis Niedra, a former lieutenant in the preSoviet, Latvian army. Yakov Karasin, a local Jewish survivor from Tukums, said Niedra "legalized" Latvia’s proNazi "self defense" forces and reinforced them with ex-soldiers and police from fascist militias that were "ardent anti-Semites, nationalists, hating the Soviets."
After rounding up all the Jews, some were forced into slave camps while most "women, children and old people" were shot and buried in "mass nameless graves." Karasin’s book names 350 Jews massacred in Tukums.5
This "Holocaust of Bullets" was repeated
across Eastern Europe. Nazis and local fascists killed about 95% of Latvia’s
70,000-75,000 Jews.6 Communists, gypsies and other "undesirables" were also
executed, bringing Latvia’s civilian death toll to 230,000. About 30,000 Soviet
soldiers died during WWII to defeat Latvia’s ethnonationalist fascism.7 About
140,000 Latvians were soldiers in the Nazi’s Waffen SS.
Having proven his loyalty to Latvia’s Nazi "liberators," Niedra was made the top official in Latvia’s second largest city, Daugavpils (Oct. 1942 - July 1944).10 Of the 16,000 Jews there when the Nazis invaded, said survivor Sidney Iwens, "less than 100 survived."11
Niedra was the key organizer of a mass Nazi rally in Daugavpils, on July 4, 1943. Gen. Otto Drechsler, Latvia’s Nazi ruler, addressed the crowd of 20,000 from a stage festooned with swastikas and Latvian flags. Film of this rally shows Latvians marching for Nazi bigwigs, and women in folk dress giving flowers to German officers that are doing the Heil Hitler salute.12
In August 1943, Niedra met the two top Nazi war criminals from the Ministry of Occupied Eastern Territories: Alfred Meyer and Alfred Rosenberg,13 a German-Estonian who led the ministry and was executed at Nuremberg in 1946.
After WWII, Niedra fled to Toronto where he met other Nazi collaborators, like Oskars Perro, a Latvian SS Obersturmführer and Iron Cross recipient. His books covered up Latvia’s role in the Holocaust. Perro and Niedra worked closely together to form the Latvian Union of Officers (LVA) to serve SS veterans. Their first meeting was in Toronto in 1951 but
in view of the still unfavorable position of some Western countries against the soldiers, especially the officers who fought against the Red Army—the then Western Allies—there were fears that the establishment and affiliation of the LVA could be detrimental to the personal security of officers.14
Although continuing to meet, these officers waited until 1954 to officially form the LVA. Niedra and Perro were among its founders. LVA’s goals included to "unite Latvian officers in the whole free world" and to "celebrate those who have fought and worked for the benefit of Latvia’s freedom."15 Canada’s LVA had a key role in creating this global network of antiSoviet Latvian veterans.16
In 1961, as LNAK’s VP, Niedra met Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and presented him with a "hand-painted scroll with the national flags and coats-of-arms of the 18 ethnic groups" in the Mutual Co-operation League (MCL). This anticommunist lobby group for "captive nations" urged Diefenbaker to deport Abraham Feinberg, the Lithuanian-American Rabbi emeritus of Canada’s largest Reform synagogue. The MCL opposed the cross-Canada speaking tour of Feinberg,17 who was chair of the Toronto Committee for Nuclear Disarmament.
In 1967, Niedra was among 13 Latvians, including five in Canada, named as war criminals by Simon Wiesenthal’s Vienna-based Centre for Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime. Although Lester Pearson’s Liberal government was informed, it did nothing.18
Two years later, Niedra, then LNAK president, made the news, not as a war criminal but for presenting former-PM Diefenbaker with a medal and scroll for aiding the fight to "liberate the Latvian people."19
In 1980, Weisenthal gave a new list of war criminals to Trudeau’s government but, again, to no avail.20
Media and government allies
LNAK enjoyed keen media support throughout the Cold War.21 Even when Soviet trials exposed Latvian war criminals living in Canada, LNAK saw them as victims of communism. In 1982, Haralds Puntulis, a former police chief in Latvia (1941-44) was tried in absentia by the Soviets. "After 19 days of testimony from witnesses and the coaccused," Puntulis, who had lived undisturbed in Toronto since 1948, "was found guilty of the slaughter of 713 Jews, 28 gypsies and nine Communists."22 Canadian newspapers said that in 1941, Puntulis
and his men carried out the annihilation of all the Jews in the hamlets of Silmalas, Malta and Riebin; ... he directed the firing squad in the execution of the residents of Audrini; and ... after each salvo he shot those who still showed signs of life.23
One witness testified that Puntulis executed an "11-year-old Jewish boy" by shooting him "in the head."
In reaction, LNAK’s president, T. Kronbergs, said such cases "automatically create a situation where" East Europeans defend the accused "whether he’s guilty or not because they feel insulted." Jews also felt insulted since, as Wiesenthal said, "the typical Nazi in Canada lives free for many years ... and neighbors think he’s a nice old man."24
By vilifying the USSR, papers diverted attention from LNAK’s Nazi past. Latvians were said to be either victims or heroes for fighting the USSR. LNAK’s Linares Lukss told the Deschênes Commission: "Soviets are trying to discredit East European immigrants, by feeding rumors about Nazi war criminals... in Canada." He said "Latvians who fought Soviet communism shouldn’t be regarded as Nazi collaborators." Soviet evidence on war crimes was derided as fake news that was "‘very intimidating, most unpleasant’ for East Europeans..., said Lukss."25 (Lukss was a key founder and leader of the Black Ribbon Day campaign.)
When the USSR asked Canada to extradite
Puntulis, "the response was a firm no." Although Canada’s Geneva-Conventions law
obliged it to search for war criminals and put them on trial, Canada said all
Nazi war crimes were exempt. The Solicitor General of Canada, Bob Kaplan, said he would not "risk his
political career on the prosecution of alleged war criminals living in Canada."
Meanwhile, Canada's Justice Minister Jean Chrétien said "I don’t intend to introduce legislation in
Canada for crimes committed 35 years ago in other nations."26
1. Jânis Niedra, Daugavpils U. http:// http://bit.ly/Niedr
2. "Nehru on Side of Reds, Ethnic Group tells
PM," Ottawa Citizen, Dec.20, 1961, p.4.
3. LNAK history, p.48
4. Author’s collection of news clippings, May 2, 1969. http:// http://bit.ly/NiedDief69
5. Yakov Karasin, Jews of Tukum city, 2002, p.34. (Note: In WWII, Karasin was one of 500,000 Jewish soldiers in the Red Army). http:// http://bit.ly/Tukums
6. Dovid Katz, "Baltic Movement to Obfuscate
Holocaust," 2018, p.11.
7. Vadim Erlikman, Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke: spravochni, pp. 21-35.
8. Trial of the Major War Criminals, 1949, "Exhibits of the Soviet Prosecution," pp. 170-186. http:// http://bit.ly/USSRreports
9. A. Arklâns, J. Dzirkalis, J. Silabriedis, Vini Bez Maskas ("Them Without Mask"), 1966, pp.118, 159-62. http:// http://bit.ly/un-mask
10. Ibid., pp.160, 162.
11. Sidney Iwens, How Dark the Heavens: 1400 Days in the Grip of Nazi Terror, 1990, p.291. http:// http://bit.ly/Nazi-Terror
12. Daugavpilî notiek II Latgales dziesmu
svçtk, ("Latgale Song Festival held in Daugavpils"), July 4, 1943.
Film: "II Latgales dziesmu svçtki Daugav
13. News/photo of Alfred Meyer with Janis
Niedra, Aug. 22, 1943.
14. Latvieðu virsnieku apvienîba ["Latvian Officers Assoc."], 1922-2012, 2013, p.18 http:// http://bit.ly/LVA-Cda
16. Kadet, No.1, 1967. http:// http://bit.ly/Kadets67
17. "Nehru on Side of Reds..." op. cit..
18. Bulletin of Information, No.5, April 1967. http:// http://bit.ly/Nazi-list
19. Author’s collection ..., op. cit.
20. Jeff Ansell and Paul Appleby, "The War Criminal," Calgary Herald, Aug. 28, 1982, p.122. http:// http://bit.ly/CH9-28-82
21. Author’s collection of news clips on LNAK (1947-91) http:// http://bit.ly/LNAK47-91
22. Ansell and Appleby, op. cit., p.120.
23. Ibid., p.121.
24. Ibid., p.120-21.
25. "Soviets manipulate facts on Nazis, commission told," CP, Windsor Star, Jun.11, 1985, p.14. http:// http://bit.ly/WS6-11-85
26. Ansell and Appleby, op. cit., p.120.
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