Vilis Arveds HāznersPress Coverage

Presumed Guilt

Hāzners—a career military officer in the independent Latvia—was one of the most honourable, brave, accomplished, and loyalty-inspiring officers of the Latvian Legion, fighting on the Eastern Front against the re-invading Red Army—a loyalty which led his men, many still teenagers, to risk their lives to haul him to safety when he was gravely wounded in a heavy fire-fight.

As a leader of the exile Latvian-American community and later head of the Daugavas Vanagi, a post-WWII organization of Latvian Legion veterans indicted by Soviet propaganda as a nest of Jew-murdering Nazis and fascists created solely for the purpose of providing haven and escape to the West, Hāzners became a lightning rod for Jewish activism and demonizing following his identification as a war criminal by so-called U.S.S.R. "authorities."

The simple and incontrovertible facts are that Hāzners did not participate in the Holocaust, and that Daugavas Vanagi is a self-help welfare association of Legionnaire veterans founded in the Zedelgem POW Camp, where they were being shot for sport as live target practice until the guards were informed the Latvians weren't Nazis. No conspiracy. No sinister plot. No harbouring of fugitive war criminals.

Indeed, for all the inflammatory press and fulminating morality one encounters today surrounding observance of the Latvian Legion Day of Commemoration, not a single individual has ever been accused, let alone convicted, of any war crime in the service of the Legion. The Legionnaires' sole hope, wearing Latvian flags under their uniforms—their only allegiance—regardless of their mostly illegal forcible conscription by Nazi Germany under pain of death, was to rid Latvia of the Russians then Germans, in a replay of the Latvian War of Independence, as enshrined in Legion song.

We have commented on a representative sampling of press coverage, commencing with the article which "broke" the Hāzners story and news of the INS proceedings instituted against him.

Updated: October, 2016

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