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Soviet partisans in Latvia

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The Soviet partisans in Latvia were Soviet partisans who were deployed to Latvia and attempted to wage guerrilla warfare against the German armed forces during the German occupation of Latvia. Partisan activity was singularly unsuccessful in Latvia due to the general resistance of the population to the Soviet regime that the partisans represented.


Background and origins

The war between Germany and the Soviet Union broke out after one year of Soviet occupation in Latvia.

In the month of June and July 1941 the German Army occupied territory of Latvia. The territory of German-occupied Latvia was incorporated into Reichskommissariat Ostland. In "Generalbezirk Lettland" was established German civilian administration and German police force. Also, in 1941 Germans began to create Latvian Police Battalions.

On May 30, 1942 the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement was organized in Moscow. The Staff had its liaison networks in the Military Councils of the Fronts and Armies. The territorial Staffs were subsequently created, dealing with the partisan movement in the respective Soviet Republics and in the occupied provinces.

28 September 1942 - the Staff of Latvian Partisan Movement was established to organize and unite pro-Soviet factions and forces into the resistance. From January 1943 the Soviet partisans in Latvia were under the leadership of A. K. Sproģis.

The partisans recruited in these units had an organized hierarchy system, a system of subordination, and a system of wages similar of the Red Army. Selection, preparation, armament and leadership of the units were the responsibility of the leadership of the Red Army.

The partisan warfare

The first Soviet partisan units sent into territory of Latvia from the end of 1941 to mid 1944 were quickly annihilated. Activity picked up in the second half of 1942, one year after the first winter war, but real work by the partisans in Latvia started only in 1943 after the German Army Group B stalled at Stalingrad and Kursk. The partisan regiment "Par Padomju Latviju" was organized and started training June 1942 in Leningrad and from Staraya Russa, three small Latvian partisan units (about 200 men) headed for Latvia. July 7, the regiment with combat reached Latvian Kārsava region, but there the German found and dispersed them with great losses and only several partisans escaped. Next partisan unit was formed September 1942 near Moscow from volunteers, from 201st Latvian Riflemen Division and Latvian partisan regiment "Par Padomju Latviju" combatants. Commander of these units was Vilis Samsons, who later became a Soviet historian. In March this unit was renamed to Latvian Partisan Brigade. This partisan regiment combat began East of Latvian borders and only at the end of 1943 they entered the territory of Latvia. Since the local population in Latvia would not support Soviet partisans, they could not gain a foothold. 3,000-man unit of Vilis Samsons was credited with the destruction of nearly 130 German trains; however, this seems to be a fabrication. Leningrad partisan brigade, which consisted only of Russians (commander M.I. Klementjev) fought around Lake Lubāns. In 1944 and 1945 in Courland they formed many small partisan units (2 to 12 men each) but very active. Most noted was "Sarkana bulta". The Latvian Red partisans suffered great losses, and many from smaller groups were completely eliminated.

According to statistics of Communist Party of Latvia, from 1941 to 1944 4055 military trained, armed and tested soldiers, organizers and lookouts were deployed to Latvia from the USSR. On January 4, 1944 Latvian Partisan Movement Headquarters had 812 soldiers at its disposal. This testifies that 3243 (80%) of the soldiers early deployed to Latvia either died, were wounded, or were declared missing in action.

During Nazi occupation of Latvia, Latvian Soviet partisans produced and distributed several illegal newspapers («Mūsu zeme» («Our land»), «Par Dzimtenes» («For the Motherland»), «Jaunais Latviešu» («Young Latvian»), etc.) and several hand-written leaflets.

Local resistance

Many Latvians were actively involved in the resistance movement against the policies of the German occupation regime. Daugavpils was the scene of fierce Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.


More than 1000 Soviet partisans who fought in Latvia in 1941-1944 were awarded the orders, decorations, and medals of the Soviet Union and three of them (Otomars Oškalns, Imants Sudmalis and Vilis Samsons) were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union


Soviet partisans in Latvia Wikipedia

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