By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is better identified in Canada for his notorious function in most excellent Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he was once appointed Director normal of financial improvement in 1950 with the knowledge that via his connections to Europe he may attract German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impact was once dropped at an abrupt finish whilst, in 1954, he used to be charged with defrauding the govt.. The media, latching directly to his murky prior and his attainable association with battle criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.
This used to be now not the 1st time his identify was once attached with debatable matters. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than historical past. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the refuge of Canada, he used to be a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority legitimate in the course of the Soviet invasion, a intelligent collaborator below the Nazi profession, then, a pal to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced individuals, and an adviser to the govt. of Canada. during this first critical biography of Alfred Valdamis historian Gerhard Bassler casts the tale of this political manipulator and chameleon in new phrases: the usually tragic results of the need to survive.
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Additional resources for Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
For instance, their relative sizes were increasing. 2). ** Latvian ethnocentrism and anti-foreignism manifested itself sporadically throughout the 1920s. In moderation they appeared as almost necessary ingredients in the development of a new spirit of national unity. It was not until the Depression that in Latvia, as in most western countries, unprecedented mass support could be relied on for nationalist, antiforeign, and anti-minority solutions to socioeconomic problems. enins, of the Democratic Centre and minister of education in a new right-wing coalition government, declared in 1931 that 'Latvia must have a Latvian culture.
I was all alone without friends and, without roots in this foreign land where I had done so much good. I saw that a human being is so little that he cannot die even if he wanted to. I have seen the sense of life collapsing. Alfred Valdmanis in 196312 Survival appears indeed as an appropriate leitmotiv characterizing not only the biography of Alfred Valdmanis, but also the history of his people. During his lifetime Latvians were alternately ruled by monarchical, democratic, fascist, communist, and Nazi military regimes.
When his parents were growing up, outsiders still perceived Latvians as a social class rather than a nationality. For centuries, speaking German and germanizing one's name had been de rigueur for anyone seeking upward mobility in the Latvian homelands. 5 million in 1935, but with a presence on the Baltic shores for four thousand years, Latvians had preserved their ethnic identity through centuries of German, Danish, Swedish, Polish, and Russian rule. For the previous seven centuries their local and provincial governments had been controlled by an ethnic German ruling class - a landed aristocracy of socalled Baltic barons.