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By Gerhard P. Bassler

Alfred Valdmanis is healthier recognized in Canada for his notorious function in optimum Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he used to be appointed Director common of financial improvement in 1950 with the knowledge that via his connections to Europe he may possibly appeal to German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impact used to be delivered to an abrupt finish whilst, in 1954, he used to be charged with defrauding the govt. The media, latching directly to his murky earlier and his attainable association with struggle criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.

This was once now not the 1st time his identify used to be attached with arguable concerns. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than background. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the shelter of Canada, he used to be a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority legitimate throughout the Soviet invasion, a smart collaborator below the Nazi career, then, a chum to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced people, 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 customarily tragic outcomes of the need to survive.

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In addition, the society of the new country was divided along ethnic and religious lines as well as by political ideology and social class. The lack of democratic traditions aggravated the problems of Latvia's 1922 constitution, which vested all powers in the hands of a Saeima, a unicameral legislature based on proportional representation. Political life was at the mercy of a proliferation of political parties and changing coalition governments. Clearly, the prospects for unity, stability, and growth appeared anything but certain.

Alfred Valdmanis claimed that Latvia's unique life force sustained his survival. But how could such a seemingly lacklustre country have aroused his passionate loyalty and devotion? The turbulent birth of independent Latvia in 1918 left an indelible mark on the Weltanschauung and values of Alfred Valdmanis's generation of Latvian youth. 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.

Carried out with the support of the Minister of War General Janis Balodis, the Home Guard (Aizsargi),™ and the Latvian intelligentsia, the coup met virtually no resistance at home or from abroad. 40 The Ulmanis Regime Karlis Ulmanis declared his new regime to be a non-partisan triumph of the Latvian over the foreign element. ) Some Social Democrats, leaders of fascist organizations, and local Germans accused of conspiring for Germany were arrested and imprisoned. But there seems to have been no identifiable plot by them to overthrow the government.

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