From the time of the renewal of independence in 1991, the Latvian government has honoured its fallen soldiers on November 11 (Lāčplēša diena), the day we remember our heroes. March 16 is not an official state remembrance day. The senior officials and members of government do not participate in March 16 events at the Freedom Monument. Nevertheless, as a democratic country, Latvia respects and also guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
Latvia has regularly and consistently condemned the crimes against humanity which were committed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Latvia condemns the Holocaust and commemorates its victims, as well as supporting education, remembrance and research on the Holocaust.
The history of Latvia’s occupation and its experience of living under two totalitarian regimes is well known. Latvia was plundered, devastated and pulled inexorably into the horrors of World War II. By means of brutal repressions, regular acts of terror, constant intimidation and subjection to indignities and humiliation, each occupying power – each totalitarian regime in turn – ignored international law, illegally conscripted large numbers of Latvian citizens or forced them to join one or the other of their national armed forces. The destinies of the Latvian people were pulled from their hands, crushed and spoiled with a cruel and ruthless disregard for human life. It was only through restoration of the state of Latvia in the 1990s that an end was put to this injustice.
The chapters of history are not written only in black and white. It is vital that a difference be drawn between those who perpetrated crimes and soldiers that fell in combat at the battle front. Rather than digging lines of division deeper or falling prey to provocation, we must seek jointly to explore the tragic lessons of history, to look for common ground and keep this work from becoming politicized.
In a special informational material, historians explain March 16:
Documentary film: Latvian Legion
During the Second World War many tragic events took place in Latvia, influencing all Latvian inhabitants - two occupations, holocaust, mobilization in foreign armies, mass deportations, where Latvia lost 1/3rd of its population. One of those tragic historical events is Latvian Legion.