Latvia Politics and Military
On August 4, 1940, Latvia became part of the Soviet Union as a fifteenth federated republic, while the process of economic transformation of the country to adapt to the new condition of independence was still underway. Process that, which began in 1918, had profoundly affected the life of the town.
In January 1945 a part of the district of Jaunlatgale (1160 sq. Km. And 30.000 residents) Passed to the RSFSR. As a result, Latvia now extends over 64,630 sq km. and its population was estimated at 1,765,320 residents in 1945, a decrease compared to 1940 (1,950,000 residents), as well as for the losses suffered during the war, due to the departure of the German minority (November 1939), repatriated in the Reich, and for the forced expulsion of about 90,000 Latvians, transferred from the USSR to the Urals and the Caucasus. For the Soviet Union, Latvia has a political-strategic importance, rather than an economic one. A radical agrarian reform led to the collectivization of the lands, canceling the bourgeois agrarian reforms which had divided the large estates into small estates;
After the signing of the German-Soviet pact in Moscow (23 August 1939), with which the entire intermediate zone between Russia and Germany was divided into zones of influence between the two contracting parties, the Latvian government tried to get out of its grip by declaring his neutrality (1 September 1939), but a month later (5 October 1939) he was forced to sign a mutual assistance pact in Moscow and to grant the USSR the military bases of Ventspils and Liepāja which were immediately occupied by the army Red. Despite the formal promises of the treaty, on June 16, 1940, after the collapse of France and the isolation of England, the USSR presented the Latvian government with an ultimatum, made more effective by the massing of overwhelming armored and airborne forces: and, even before it expired, the Soviet Commissioner A. Višinsky occupied the country, establishing a pro-Communist government which called elections for July 15. The new parliament asked to be part of the USSR as the sixteenth republic. In this situation, Latvia was seized by the German attack on the USSR. Thus began the German phase of the occupation of Latvia, which runs from 1941 to 1945. The country became part (November 17, 1941) of the Reichskommissariat Ostland which included Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and White Russia; on 10 February 1943, against the Hague Convention (1907), the general mobilization of the country was ordered and thousands of Latvian workers were deported to Germany. The harshness of the occupation regime led to the revolt of the Latvian troops in western Courland, a revolt led by General Cúrelis and therefore called the Curelians.
In July 1945, Latvia became part of the USSR again, which caused the emigration of many Latvians abroad, especially in Germany and Austria. A small group has also arrived in Italy. From these countries the Latvian refugees try to emigrate overseas: in England there is a strong core of agricultural and industrial workers.
Latvia is still recognized as an independent state by the United States of America and also by some states in South America. Moreover, England also maintains the Legation of Latvia in London, having recognized the occupation of the country only de facto and not de jure.
Military operations during the Second World War. – Latvia became the scene of war operations, together with Lithuania in the south and Estonia in the north, from the beginning of the hostilities between the USSR and Germany. The group of German armies of gen. von Leeb who, gathered in East Prussia, aimed at Leningrad and the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Finally, from Latvia, strategic cooperation was to develop with the group of armies of the center that was aiming at Moscow; cooperation that would have engaged the right wing of the Leeb group from the sector of Lake Il′men ′ and Valdaj. Opposed to von Leeb were about twenty divisions under the orders of the maresc. Timošenko.
The surprise, which characterized the beginning of the German operations, reduced the resistance of the Soviets; so that von Leeb’s advance was swift and decisive. The Höpner armored army, which preceded the other armies, after having rapidly crossed Lithuania and occupied Kovno (Kaunas), on 27 June 1941 took possession of the port of Liepāja. Having reached the Dvina, on 4 July the German troops entered Jelgava and Riga, forced the river and, opening up like a fan, advanced: to the north, towards the Estonian border and to the east towards the Russian one, aiming for Pskov and Ostrov. The 11 enmeshed in the Soviet Army, which was maneuvering retreating to Cholm, was tempted by the right wing of von Leeb, but failed completely.
The great Soviet counter-offensive of the summer of 1944 brought the struggle back to its most violent phase in the Baltic countries. On July 19, the eastern border of Latvia was crossed by the third pre-Baltic front: on the 27th Rēzekne and Daugavpils were occupied with the target of Riga. The second pre-Baltic front from Ostrov, for upper Latvia, was to compete with convergent action. The maneuver did not take place as quickly as the Soviets hoped for the tenacious resistance of the Germans to whom it was of great use, especially after the loss of the Estonian ports, to maintain possession of Riga. Only on 24 September Smiltene and Valmiera were occupied from the second. front proceeding from the north, and Jelgava from the third front. The fall of this city and neighboring Dobele opened the way for the Soviets to the coast of Liepāja and Palanga, which was reached at the end of October. Thus was determined the separation of the German troops into two sections of which the northern one, cut off from East Prussia, was destroyed or captured. Riga capitulated on October 15.