At the end of January, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia was informed that the World Federation of Free Latvians (PBLA) had donated 500 € for the restoration of a printing press constructed by Ilmārs Kalsers, a member of the “Latviešu demokrātiskās pretestības kustības organizācija” (Organisation of the Latvian Democratic Resistance Movement).
The Museum has started a campaign to attract funds to restore specific items of its collection. The Museum’s Director Solvita Vība asked PBLA to participate and support the preservation of cultural and historical heritage, while also helping to nurture philanthropy in Latvia.
The selected object is a significant reminder of anti-Soviet resistance by young people during the post-war years. The Museum obtained it from the former Latvian SSR State Security Committee (Cheka) Museum in Riga.
The anti-Soviet youth organisation was founded in the Riga Technical College in November 1946, and over the next two years, about 60 Riga high school, technical college and university students participated in it. It was led by a Riga Technical College student Edgars Jasūns. The objectives of the organisation were stated in its charter:
The youths tried to gather weapons and distributed anti-Soviet leaflets. According to one of the leaflets printed underground: “....Compatriots! Our nation will not and must not be destroyed! Latvia and the Latvian nation will live if we gather all of our strength in a united struggle for the honour, happiness and freedom of Latvia and the eradication of the Bolshevik plague!...”*
From June to November 1947, the Cheka arrested 42 members of the organisation aged 16 to 24, of whom 40 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 25 years.
After restoration, the printing press will be displayed in the Museum’s new exposition, to be unveiled this year at Latviešu strēlnieku laukums 1, in Riga.