Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943Latvian Legation, 1944
During recent months very little news has seeped abroad from the Baltic States in general, and particularly from Latvia. The Germans are exerting every effort to isolate completely the three Baltic States not only from the outer world but also from each other. Naturally, that applies also to communications between the Baltic States and neutral countries such as Sweden. Postal communications with the latter have been almost completely suspended. For example, last July there were several cases of innocent letters, sent from Stockholm to Latvia and containing only information of a purely personal nature, being returned to the sender in Stockholm with an attached slip of paper bearing the following printed words: “Postal communication between Latvia and Sweden is prohibited.”
Formerly certain possibilities of exchanging letters existed—one had only to ignore the official prohibition of postal communication. It is true that in the main post office in Stockholm no letters were accepted for Latvia, and in Riga, in accordance with the regulations, every letter addressed abroad had to be delivered personally by the sender to the postal authorities. However, if one disregarded these official regulations and simply dropped one’s letter in the mail box on the street corner, one could almost be certain that the letter would reach the addressee, as long as the address had been written somewhat “skillfully”. Recently this “skill” has helped no longer, and the mail prohibited between Latvia and Sweden now appears to be consistently enforced.
As regards newspapers printed in Latvia, it should be observed that also before, only two newspapers reached Sweden, viz., the semi-official organ of Reichs Minister Lohse—Deutsche Zeitung im Ostland (German Newspaper in Ostland )—and the newspaper in the Latvian language corresponding to it—Tevija (Fatherland). Moreover, the latter was sent very irregularly, and the subscriber received it only now and then. Since November 1942 the “Tevija” is no longer received in Sweden in general. The “Deutsche Zeitung im Ostland /DZO/”, however, was received quite regularly until February 1943. Its delivery was then also cut off. It is said that the German occupation authorities no longer permit the DZO to be sent to neutral countries because the entirely official decrees and announcements of the authorities published in the newspaper are made use of to discredit the management of the Germans in the Baltic. If one or two issues of the DZO ever do reach Sweden, they do so in a very round about way.
All the radio broadcasting stations in Latvia are under the direct control of the German occupation authorities and their agents. News is broadcast in Latvian three times daily, but it furnishes very little actual material about Latvia, as twice daily the news read is simply a translation into Latvian of the bulletins of the “International Bureau of Information.” Formerly one could sometimes hear something of interest in the third Latvian news broadcast, the so-called “Current events”, but for several months now also this broadcast has been swamped with German propaganda. At present the “Current events” consist principally of translations of Goebbels’ essays from “the Reich”, editorials from the “Essener Zeitung”, “Völkischer Beobachter”, etc. The material of these propaganda broadcasts is selected with one special purpose, namely, to prove to the inhabitants of Latvia that the goal of the policy of Roosevelt and Churchill is to turn over all Europe to the Bolsheviks.
Once in a while, although not often, the “Current events” furnish a little information regarding occurrences in the cultural, economic and social life of Latvia, interpretation of decrees and announcements of the occupation authorities, etc. These broadcasts do enable one to draw certain conclusions as to what is taking place in the country.
Since March 1943 in Stockholm a new source of information has appeared: the refugees from Latvia, whose number is constantly increasing. Most of them are seamen who have sailed for some time on German vessels until they find an opportunity in the vicinity of the Swedish coast to flee ashore. These people, naturally, can give little information about actual events and principally repeat what they have heard from others. However, a few of the refugees have been in Latvia themselves comparatively recently, and their reports, of course, are extremely interesting, as they can furnish rare current information, objectively describing the state of affairs in the country and characterizing the attitude of the extensive circles of inhabitants.
If one adds a few private letters received once in a while “through unknown means”, it gives the sum total of the information received in Sweden in 1943.
From all the above mentioned information one can observe that two principal problems form the focal point of discussion of the inhabitants of Latvia, namely:
- mobilization, and
- restoration of private property.
Of these two problems the inhabitants, naturally, find the first problem to be of greater importance than the second.
Latvia Under German Occupation in 1943, an informational publication by the sovereign authority of the Republic of Latvia, is in the public domain according to the Copyright Law of the Republic of Latvia, §6¶1 and §6¶4. We have contacted the Latvian Foreign Ministry regarding its republication. Please attribute appropriately.