|March 16th, 2008||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Hundreds march in Latvia to commemorate SS unit
March participants honoring countrymen who fought in German combat unit during WWII sing patriotic songs, wave Latvian flags. Protesters chant 'Disgrace!' and 'Hitler is dead!'' in Russian, blow whistles to drown out singing
Thousands marched through the Latvian capital Sunday under heavy police protection to honor countrymen who fought in a German combat unit during World War II.
Protesters jeered as the procession of some 3,000 people - a few surviving members of the Waffen SS unit known as the Latvian Legion among them - arrived at the Freedom Monument in downtown Riga.
March participants sang patriotic songs and waved Latvian flags before laying roses at the base of the monument as protesters chanted "Disgrace!'' and "Hitler is dead!'' in Russian and blew whistles to drown out the singing.
March participants (Photo: AFP)
Thousands of police deployed to prevent unrest kept the two sides apart. No violence was reported.
Soviet forces occupied the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in June 1940, but were driven out by the Germans a year later. The Red Army retook the Baltics in 1944, and reincorporated them into the Soviet Union.
About 250,000 Latvians ended up fighting alongside either the Germans or the Soviets in World War II -- and some 150,000 Latvians died in the fighting.