Nazi March Proceeds in Generally ‘Peaceful’ Manner

About 1,500 veterans of the Waffen SS division and other Nazi supporters marched through Latvia in an annual parade on March 16.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Simon Wiesenthal Center Director Efraim Zurof
Simon Wiesenthal Center Director Efraim Zurof
Reuters

About 1,500 veterans of the Waffen SS division and other Nazi supporters marched through the Latvian capital in a controversial annual ‘memorial’ march that took place on March 16.

While the Riga city council had imposed a ban on the procession, the decision was overturned by a court rule on Thursday.

Many Latvians hailed the Nazis as liberators because they wanted independence and freedom from the USSR which controlled the Baltic States. Since the Jews were against the Nazis, for obvious reasons, they were considered traitors.

The Latvians began killing and torturing Jews on the streets several months before the Germans arrived, and the Latvian Legion, part of the Waffen-SS and abetted by local collaborates, perpetrated their own reign of terror, eventually killing 70,000 of the country's 85,000 Jews.

Unlike previous years, the parade proceeded in a generally non-violent manner and was met with only a few dozen protesters, some of whom held signs depicting Nazi atrocities. Only three arrests were made for aggressive behavior and the display of banned symbols.

"It's tragic that they are turning people who fought for the Third Reich into heroes," Efraim Zuroff, director of Jerusalem's Simon Wiesenthal Center, told AFP in Riga.  

"This whole thing is based on a myth. If Nazi Germany had won the war, there wouldn't be an independent Latvia today," Zuroff said.    





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