President Andris Bērziņš: Latvian Legion soldiers were not criminals

Riga, 28 February, LETA.

The Latvians who during the World War II were conscripted in the Nazi German army are not criminals, said Andris Bērziņš, President of Latvia, this morning on LNT TV channel, commented on the tensions rising before the Latvian Legion Commemoration Day on March 16.

The President did not give any direct answer to the repeatedly asked question whether legionnaires should be commemorated in particular, and just said that "nothing should be ignored". He asked a rhetorical question on why it should be denied that so many people lost their lives and sacrificed themselves for the future of Latvia.

Mr. Bērziņš pointed out that today there are less than 500 people, with average age over 90, left from 500,000 legionnaires. "How these men can pose any threat?" he asked, being surprised about the negative reaction against Legion commemoration events, and noted that legionnaires fought for independent Latvia in the war.

The President stressed that legionnaires were people conscripted in 1944 by Nazi Germany, and in 1950 the US authorities came to conclusion that the Latvian Legion were not war criminals; furthermore, USSR later exonerated them.

“It is insane to consider legionnaires as criminals” said Mr. Bērziņš. He considers turning against ex-legionnaires as totally unacceptable. “Instead, we should bow our heads to them,” he added.

The President thinks that Latvia should be explaining this situation internationally. To refresh his own knowledge of the subject, he had read the book "Karojošā piemiņa"(Fighting Commemoration) and recommended others to read it too.

The President is convinced that law enforcement institutions will be able to ensure public order on March 16 and that any provocateurs will be brought to justice.

Go back