By William Mills
These photographs were taken in Riga, capital of Baltic country Latvia.
Riga has a population of around 800,000. The tourist area, The Old Town, lies to the east of the River Vitebsk and is approached by the large bridge pictured here.
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia 1940-41
Immediately over the bridge one is confronted by the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia 1940-1991. An ugly building housing an ugly subject but it is a must for any student of history and humanity. Entrance is free but they welcome donations.
Latvia, a small independent country, was invaded by its huge neighbour, Soviet Russia in June 1940 while WW2 raged in the West.
At this time Soviet Russia was ruled by Stalin and his Communists. When they arrived they killed the Latvian intelligentsia. The Cheka, the name for the Russian secret police, visited every home. If they found any books it meant the inhabitants could read and write and therefore were a danger to the state, so they killed every man,woman, and child they found. Because you are able to read this it would have included you.
The editorial team of the-news.co took the difficult decision not to show any of the museum’s photographs on the grounds they are too horrific for a family friendly UK based paper. No disrespect is in anyway intended to the loved ones of the victims for this omission. What is shown below is the captions below the museum’s photos.
The only way to have survived in these terrible times would have to looked at one’s feet, know nothing, have nothing and watch one’s church being bulldozed and the remains shipped off to Russia to be used as building rubble.
Below is the museum’s recreation of a slave labour camp followed by the accompanying plaque. Although the photo is a little indistinct it is included because it describes conditions not heard of since 1970’s TV hit Roots graphic portrayal of the African slaves’ misery of their way to America.
Josef Stalin, dictator of Communist Russia. The most evil mass murderer in the recorded history of human civilisation.
It is believed that over 60 million poor souls perished in the Gulag prison system. Some died of disease, others were worked to death or were sadistically murdered by their guards for perverted amusement. Many were eaten by their starving fellow inmates.
22 June 1941
On 22 June 1941 Hitler’s Germany Army rolled eastward and attacked Russia. No strangers to brutality and concentration camps themselves they were nonetheless shocked at what they found.
The little girl in the right of the next picture would be in her 80’s now if she survived. I wonder what sort of life she would have lived, trapped between the Nazis on one hand and the Cheka on the other. After the Nazis retreated in 1945 the Cheka returned. Their view was simple. Anyone still alive must be a Nazi spy. The years following WW2 must have been of frightful toil and endless shortages. Cold hungry and fearful she would have grown up being forced at school to sing praises to Stalin and Russia. Her own language outlawed, was whispered at home until one day freedom would come….
Churchill and Roosevelt
The next depicts British Premier Churchill and US President Roosevelt cynically standing by and doing nothing, which is a little unfair.
Churchill’s memoirs published in 1949 says how the West hoped to moderate Stalin, and hope became belief. If Britain had tried to fight both Hitler and Stalin together they may have well lost the war. Until June 1941 Russia was effectively Germany’s ally providing her with many supplies and Britain was on the edge of defeat.
At last hope came. After many years of drudgery the Cold War between East and West was nearing its end. The Soviet system was on the edge of collapse, bankrupt and corrupt it teetered on the brink of self destruction. The Latvian Helsinki-86 group risked arrest and imprisonment to fight for freedom and end Russian domination.
In the next notice the breaking chain at the bottom. The famous Russian Communist poster, Rising Free, depicts two arms rising from the soil one holding a hammer and the other a sickle with chains breaking. Here the Latvians want to break the bonds of servitude to the Russian yoke.
Finally it came… Our last picture shows the crowds in Freedom Square awaiting the dawn of a new day in 1991…
Hitler and Stalin
The curator said a number of English tourists are old socialist and trade union members who are shocked to see pictures of Hitler and Stalin together. Yet to their victims they were alike. Their political systems were identical as bringers of misery. These tourists looked frantically for some sign that proved socialism had brought some good to the people it enslaved. Alas, they go away empty handed.