CASE FILE

Vilis Arveds HāznersPostscript

It was inevitable that the U.S.S.R. would target Vilis Hāzners for a host of reasons: his staunch anti-Sovietism and work with Radio Free Europe—it would be naive to believe the Soviets were unaware of his role gathering intelligence for the CIA; his leadership role in the Latvian Legion veteran's association, Daugavas Vanagi; and his leadership role and political activism in the post-WW2 Latvian émigré community.

Soviet era "Latvians are Nazis" propaganda now available on DVD, "coincidentally" released several days before the annual commemoration of the Latvian Legion in 2013.

Reviewing the chronology of propaganda leading to the INS charging Hāzners:

1961

Daugavas Vanagi, Who are They? is published in Latvian. Hāzners is subsequently featured in a number of anti-Latvian propaganda publications and denounced annually in the domestic Soviet Latvian press.

1963

Daugavas Vanagi, Who are They? is published in English.

1963

Soviets release a "documentary" film indicting Latvian émigré leadership as Nazis and Nazi cohorts, including Hāzners and Latvian sovereign plenipotentiary-in-exile Kārlis Zariņš.

1971

"Latvian Cultural Minister" Imants Lešinskis delivers Daugavas Vanagi, Who are They? along with other propaganda to Gertrude Schneider, who is in Latvia to research the Riga Ghetto, herself a ghetto survivor originally deported from her home in Austria. Lešinskis informs Schneider that Hāzners is an escaped Nazi war criminal. Schneider returns and the "hunt" commences.

one might believe the Hāzners matter was closed in the eyes of the Kremlin. But no.

1983

Two years after the INS loses its case and the OSI is denied its motion to appeal, and 20 years after Daugavas Vanagi, Who are They? appeared in the West, Soviet Ambassador-at-Large Valerian Zorin denounces Hāzners at the United Nations as an escaped war criminal, shifting the scene of his crimes from Latvia to Belarus.

2013

50 years after Daugavas Vanagi, Who are They? was first published in the West, Kremlin-aligned Latvian parliament member Nikolaj Kabanov produces an hour-plus long "documentary", Ostland. Ночь под свастикой. (Ostland. Night Under the Swastika.) which includes a photo of Hāzners and of his award of the Iron Cross for bravery.

Simultaneously, Alexander Dyukov's "Historical Memory Foundation" publishes Kabanov's exposé, Secrets of Soviet Latvia From the Archives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Latvia.

Did you know?

Russia invented ethnic cleansing in the 19th century: "the plan of action decided upon for 1860 was to cleanse [ochistit'] the mountain zone of its indigenous population," referring to the Circassians, which campaign took such a horrendous toll that it has been called genocide. Per the memoirs of Miliutin, who proposed the action as early as 1957. Russia's campaign of destruction against the mountain peoples of the Caucusus—the Abazas, Circassians, and Ubykhs—set the pattern for future mass deportations and genocide.

Given today's Russia has done away with Soviet-era pretences at diplomacy in its overt hybrid warfare against its neighbors, all of whom it denounces as resurgent fascist states, it is unsurprising that propagandistic Soviet accusations live on long after the U.S.S.R. and Hāzners have both passed into history.

Still, that Hāzners continues to draw the Kremlin's ire is a litmus test by which to judge that Russia is unrepentant in glorifying its Soviet past, never to atone for the atrocities the U.S.S.R. visited upon its sovereign neighbors, never to admit the U.S.S.R. invaded and occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Russia cannot contend it is the sovereign continuation of the U.S.S.R. and simultaneously insist it bears no responsibility for the crimes of its predecessor—crimes it has continued to perpetrate in the post-Soviet era against Moldova (during Yeltsin's tenure), Georgia, and Ukraine.

Regimes change, but the notion that Russia's self-worth is measured by the size of the geopolitical pyramid it dominates—by whatever means necessary—remains constant.

Updated: October, 2016

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