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The Latvian Social Democratic Worker’s Party Flag, Which Was First Raised On 1 May 1989, Has Been Donated To The Museum

The Latvian Social Democratic Worker’s Party Flag, Which Was First Raised On 1 May 1989, Has Been Donated To The Museum

2018. gada 21. marts

In spring 1989 a flag was made for the renewed Latvian Social Democratic Worker’s Party (LSDSP). The appearance of such a party highlighted the emergence of a Social Democratic party which aimed to break the monopoly of the Communist party in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. On 7 March this flag was donated to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia’s archive and presented by former LSDSP members Leo Hiršons and Valdis Šterns.

When describing the importance of this flag to the museum’s specialists Leo Hiršons recalled “In the spring of 1989, thanks to Lidija and Valentine Lasmane, I managed to get to Sweden.  After two weeks of “probation” I got to Bruno Kalnard and was admitted into the LSDSP. This was the only way to restore a multiparty system to Latvia and to all the USSR, to take the monopoly from the Communists and to disrupt their plan to put the Social Democratic niche under the leadership of Ivars Ķezbers. The LSDSP was the only independence party which had been saved and that operated in exile.”

“In Stockholm I also established the Scandinavian branch of the Latvian National Independence Movement. In those three months I was introduced to many exiled Latvians, including Andrejs Eglītis, Vilnis Zaļkalns, Baiba Vītoliņa, Noldis Millers, Zigurds Plensners, Janis Zalcmanis, Pēteris Vasariņš, Aleksandrs Tērmanis, Māra Strautmane, Ieva Lešķinska, Linda Freimane, Ieva Graufelde, Ženija Kraukle and Uldis Ģērmanis. The latter educated me about history and psychology, preparing me for possible arrest and interrogation by the Committee for State Security (KGB)”.

“When I returned to Latvia I started to organise the LSDSP restoration initiative group. Under advisement of the lawyer Andris Teikmanis we registered with the National Front (Tautas Fronte). I became acquainted with Valdis Šteins, who was also a member of the LSDSP. Shortly before 1 May, we received a message from the foreign committees of the LSDSP telling us to participate in the demonstration in the National Front's column with our party’s flag because the Communists were preparing to overtake us. I found an example of the flag in the book “The History of the Latvian Social Democrats” which Bruno Kalniņš had given to me. Jānis Mekšs made the flag and on 1 May 1989 we raised the flag showing that the multi-party system had been restored! I will mention though, that nobody was confident about the Social Democrats – basically we all came from the Latvian National Independence Movement. I was also informed about this by Bruno Kalniņš, that only with this political move, and thanks to Gorbachev’s statement “our aim is social democracy – democratic socialism”, was it possible to painlessly take the political monopoly from the Communists and restore a multiparty system”.

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