Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic


(Latvijas Padomju Sociālistiskā Republika), Latvia (Latvija).

The Latvian SSR was formed on July 21, 1940. Since Aug. 5, 1940, it has been part of the USSR. The republic is located in the northwestern European part of the USSR; it extends to the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga on the west. To the north it borders on the Estonian SSR; to the east, the RSFSR; to the southeast, the Byelorussian SSR; and to the south, the Lithuanian SSR. Area, 63,700 sq km; population, 2,430,000 (as of Jan. 1, 1973). Its capital is the city of Riga. The republic is divided into 26 raions; it has 56 cities and 35 urban-type settlements.

The Latvian SSR is a socialist state of workers and peasants, a union soviet socialist republic, part of the USSR. The present constitution of the Latvian SSR was adopted on Aug. 25, 1940, by the second session of the People’s Saeima (Parliament) of Latvia. The supreme body of state power is the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR, which is elected for a term of four years on the basis of one deputy per 10,000 inhabitants. Between sessions of the Supreme Soviet, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR is the supreme body of state power. The Supreme Soviet forms the republic’s government, the Council of Ministers, and adopts laws for the republic. Local bodies of power in raions, cities, settlements, and villages consist of corresponding soviets of working people’s deputies, elected by the population for a two-year term. Latvia is represented by 32 deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

The supreme judicial body in Latvia is the republic’s supreme court, elected by the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR for a five-year term; it consists of two judicial colleges (dealing with civil and criminal cases, respectively) and a plenum. There is also a presidium of the supreme court. The procurator of the Latvian SSR is appointed by the procurator general of the USSR for a term of five years.

Latvia is situated on the East European Plain, on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea.

Shoreline. The length of the shoreline is about 500 km. The shores are primarily low-lying, with sandy beaches and dunes, and weakly indented; only the Gulf of Riga, which is separated from the open sea by the Kurzeme Peninsula and the islands of the Moonzund Archipelago, extends deeply into the mainland.

Terrain. The topography of Latvia was formed mainly by glaciation. It is characterized by an alternation of flat or gently rolling lowlands and hilly uplands. A lowland area 2–3 km wide (in places, up to 50 km wide) stretches along the coast of the Baltic Sea. The Kurzeme Upland (up to 184 m in elevation), which is divided by the Venta River valley into the western and eastern Kurzeme uplands, is located in the western part of the republic; the area is characterized by ancient glacial valleys, the deepest of which is occupied by the Abava River. The major upland in the central area is the Vidzeme Upland (which has the republic’s highest point—Gaiziņkalns—with an elevation of 311 m); in the east is the Latgale Upland (with elevations up to 289 m), which is characterized by morainal and kame and hilly terrain, with deep river valleys and lake beds. Situated in the center of Latvia, between the Kurzeme and Vidzeme uplands, is the Central Latvian Lowland, with numerous morainal hills; in the northeast is the Northern Latvian Lowland (which has elevations ranging from 40 to 60 m), with kames and drumlins. Between the Vidzeme and Latgale uplands is the Eastern Latvian Lowland, the central section of which is occupied by the flat, marshy Lubāna Lowland.


Geological structure and mineral resources. The territory of Latvia is situated in the northwestern part of the East European Platform, whose structural foundation is divided into the Baltic Syneclise, the southern slope of the Baltic Shield, and the northern slope of the Byelorussian Anticlise. The crystalline foundation, lying at depths of 300–400 m in the northeastern section of the republic to 2,000 m and more in the southwestern part, consists of granites, gneisses, amphibolites, anorthosites, and crystalline schists from the Archean and Lower and Middle Proterozoic periods (1.2–2.4 billion years old). The sedimentary layer, which is 2,000–2,200 m thick, is composed primarily of carbonate and terrigenous deposits of the Valdai Series (Upper Proterozoic), along with those of the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic periods, as well as Anthropogenic formations.

Iron-ore deposits are known as part of the crystalline foundation at a depth of approximately 700 m (Limbaži Raion); the Kuldīga petroleum bed was discovered in 1965 in Cambrian and Ordovician deposits. Beds of gypsum rock, quartzite molding sands, glass sands, dolomites, and various clays are confined within Devonian deposits. Limestones are associated with Permian deposits; brown coals (not of commercial importance) and quartz sands, with Jurassic deposits. Deposits of clays, sands, and sandy gravel, which are used as building materials, as well as major peat bogs, are widespread among Anthropogenic deposits. Amber is often encountered along the shores of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. Mineral springs are located in Kemeri and Baldone.


Climate. The climate is transitional (from maritime to continental). West winds are predominant. The average July temperature is 16°–18°C; in January, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, — 2° or — 3°C; in the eastern regions, — 7°C. Annual precipitation is 550–800 mm, 70 percent of which falls during the warm period; the sunniest and driest month is May. The greatest quantity of precipitation falls on the western slopes of the uplands (for example, the Vidzeme Upland receives more than 750 mm); the least occurs in the protected upland regions (the Central Latvian and Lubāna lowlands receive less than 550 mm). There is a great deal of cloudiness (150–180 cloudy days per year). The growing season extends from mid-April to mid-October.

Rivers and lakes. Latvia has a well-developed river network; there are 777 rivers more than 10 km long, and the total length of all rivers is 38,000 km. All the rivers are part of the Baltic Sea basin. The largest rivers are the Daugava, Lielupe, Venta, and Gauja. Spring high-water periods are characteristic of the river cycles. Floods are frequent (in the summer as the result of rains and in the winter because of thaws). In the western regions the ice cover lasts two to 2½ months; in the eastern regions, three to 3½ months, although conditions are variable. Hydroelectric power resources have been determined to be 3.9 billion kilowatt-hours, of which the Daugava River accounts for 90 percent. Reservoirs of the Pļaviņi and Kegums hydroelectric power plants have been created on the Daugava.

There are 3,195 lakes with a water surface of 1 hectare (ha) or more; they occupy 1.5 percent of the republic’s territory. Most of them are of glacial origin. The largest lakes are Lubāna, Rēzna, Burtniek, Usma, and Liepāja. The deepest lake is Lake Drīdza, with a depth of 65.1 m. The lakes are used for commercial fishing (especially Lake Lubāna).

Soils. Podzolic soils (predominantly soddy podzols) occupy 52 percent of the land area; soddy carbonate soils (for example, the Central Latvian Lowland), 4 percent; bottomland soils, 2 percent; marshy soils (soddy gley and soddy podzol-gley), 23 percent; and peat bogs, 19 percent. About 70 percent of the farmland is excessively moist. Large-scale reclamation projects have been carried out during the years of Soviet power.

Flora. Latvia is situated in a subzone of broad-leaved deciduous and coniferous forests. The area covered by forests is 2.4 million ha (38 percent of the republic’s territory); 67 percent of the forests are coniferous (50 percent pine and 17 percent spruce), and 33 percent are deciduous (24 percent birch, 4 percent aspen, 3 percent European alder, and 2 percent speckled alder). The largest forest tracts are on the Kurzeme Peninsula, along both banks of the Daugava River, and in northeastern Latvia. Meadows occupy 7.5 percent of the republic’s territory; most of them are of the dry-valley type. Marshes cover 4.8 percent of the territory. The swampiest areas are located in eastern Latvia, and there are many bogs around Lake Lubāna and along the lower course of the Aiviekste River. Upland bogs account for 73 percent; lowland bogs, 18 percent.

Fauna. The principal mammals include European and blue hare, squirrel, roe deer, elk, deer, fox, badger, marten, and raccoon dog; the boar and beaver have been reacclimatized. Commercial fish include Baltic herring, sprat, salmon, taimen, Baltic vimba, eelpout, and eel. Petromyzons are bred in the Gulf of Riga and the river estuaries. There are five state fish hatcheries.

Preserves. Latvia has the following preserves: Ŝlītere (with broad-leaved forest and an abundance of ash and maple; English yew and wild ivy are also encountered); Moricsala, an island on Lake Usma, Grīni (Atlantic heather), and Lake Engure (waterfowl). Sanctuaries have been established for fish (the Salaca River and Lakes Babīte, Valgum, and Kaņieris), beaver (the Slocene and Skujupīte rivers), and game animals (Kalsnava and Ugāle). Certain sections of ancient river valleys that are outstanding for their natural landmarks and interesting forest tracts (including those of the Gauja, Venta, and Abava rivers) are being preserved, as are 91 parks, including the Kazdanga and Skrīveri arboretums, and rare species of plants and animals. Reforestation projects are being carried out. In 1973 the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR adopted a resolution on the organization of Gauja National Park.

Natural regions. The maritime lowland is a sandy plain with pine forests, upland moors, and lakes. It is also characterized by dunes. Western Latvia, encompassing primarily the Kurzeme Upland, has the mildest climate, small temperature variations, and abundant precipitation; it also has the longest growing season. Central Latvia includes the Central and Northern Latvian lowlands, as well as the Vidzeme Upland. The region has large areas of plowed land and orchards. Eastern Latvia includes the Eastern Latvian Lowland and the Latgale Upland. Its climate is the most continental in the republic. There are numerous lakes in the Latgale Upland. Large-scale reclamation projects are under way in the Lubāna Lowland.


The main population consists of Latvians (1,342,000; 1970, census). Russians (705,000), Byelorussians (95,000), Poles (63,000), Ukrainians (53,500), Lithuanians (41,000), and Jews (37,000) also live in the republic.

Men account for 46 percent of the population; women, 54 percent. As of 1973, the average population density was 38.1 persons per sq km. The greatest rural population density is in the region of Riga (34.7), as well as in the fertile areas of the Central Latvian Lowland; the lowest density (6.7) is in Ventspils Raion.

As of 1973, industrial and office workers constituted 87.6 percent of the population; kolkhoz peasants, 12.4 percent. Industry and construction employed 40.7 percent of the working population; agriculture and forestry, 21.4 percent; transportation and communications, 8.8 percent; trade, the food-service industry, and materials and equipment supply, 8.2 percent; public health, social security, education, culture, science, and art, 13.8 percent, administration, 2.5 percent; and housing and utilities and welfare, 4.6 percent (as of 1972). In 1970, 53.5 percent of the population was employed in the public-production sector. The proportion of women in the total number of industrial and office workers was 54 percent, including 52 percent in industry, 76 percent in education and culture, and 85 percent in public health (1972 figures). During the years of Soviet power the urban population increased in connection with the growth of industry (see Table 1).

Table 1. Population of the Latvian SSR (Figures in parentheses are percentages)
1Within present-day borders
Urban ......939,000
Rural ......1,553,500
Total ......2,492,5001,884,8002,093,5002,364,1002,430,000

The most important cities are as follows (1973 population figures): Riga (765,000), Daugavpils (107,000), Liepāja (97,000), Jelgava (59,000), Jūrmala (56,000), Ventspils (43,000), and Rēzekne (33,000). The cities of Olaine and Stučka grew up and urban-type settlements were formed during the years of Soviet power.

Primitive communal structure (through the ninth century A.D.). The oldest archaeological data on the existence of humans on the territory of Latvia date to the Mesolithic period (ninth to fourth millennia B.C.). At that time people were engaged in gathering, fishing, and hunting, and they made primitive tools from flint, horn, and bone. The cultural layer of the late Mesolithic period, with its characteristic tools made of horn and bone, was first discovered in 1964 at the Osas site (Balvi Raion). During the Neolithic period (fourth to second millennia B.C.), people learned how to make better and more diverse tools of stone and bone, as well as clay pottery (the Sārnate site on the shore of the Baltic Sea; sites on the banks of Lakes Burtniek, Lubāna, and Lielāis-Ludza).

The origin of farming and livestock raising dates to the second millennium B.C. In the mid-second millennium B.C. the first imported bronze implements appeared, but as late as the beginning of the Common Era tools were still made primarily of stone, bone, and wood. During the first millennium B.C., livestock raising became increasingly important among the tribes that settled in Latvia. Matriarchy was replaced by patriarchy in their social relations.

The first iron implements appeared in the mid-first millennium B.C., but it was only in the second century A.D. that they completely replaced stone implements (iron was made from local bog ores; six furnaces for smelting iron were discovered at the settlement of Snietiņi). At the same time, farming became the principal occupation of the people, and livestock raising, fishing, and hunting became secondary. Disintegration of the patriarchal social relations began as a result of the development of productive forces, and, in the fifth century A.D., a class society emerged.

The population of the territory of Latvia during the Neolithic period is customarily included among the Finno-Ugric tribes, but as early as the second millennium B.C. the ancestors of the Baltic, or Latvian-Lithuanian, tribes had appeared in Latvia. During the first few centuries of the Common Era ethnic groupings took shape on the territory of Latvia. Among them were groups that later formed the Latvian nationality: the Curonians, Zemgalians, Latgals, and Selonians, as well as the Finno-Ugric tribes known as the Livs. The Daugava River became an important trade route, linking the population of Latvia with the East Slavic tribes, especially the Krivichi.

Feudal period; development of feudal relations; German feudal-Catholic aggression (tenth to 13th century). The consolidation of feudal production relations in Latvia began in the tenth century. In eastern Latvia and the Daugava basin, under the influence of the neighboring Russian principalities, which had already entered upon a period of developed feudalism, feudal relations evolved more rapidly than in other regions. In farming, the three-field system and plows with iron plowshares became widespread. Forging, pottery, and other crafts developed, and trade was active (Arab, western European, and Byzantine coins have been discovered on the territory of Latvia). The cities of Mežotne, Tērvete, Riga, Jersika, Ludza, and Kuldīga became crafts and trade centers.

The genesis and formation of the principal antagonistic classes of the feudal system—the feudal lords (referred to in the Latin chronicles as nobiles, meliores, and so on) and the peasants—date from the turn of the second millennium A.D. The peasants lived in villages, and the feudal lords lived in fortified settlements, as many as 400 of which have been discovered in Latvia. Christianity, which penetrated from ancient Rus’, began to spread among the population of Latvia (almost all the Christian terms in Latvian were borrowed from Russian). The beginnings of the state concept also originated at that time. In the tenth through 13th centuries three Latgale principalities were formed in eastern Latvia—Koknese and Jersika (which had formerly been dependent on Polotsk) and Tālava (which had been dependent on Pskov). Administrative subdivisions consisted of districts, with castles at their centers, and the pagasti (from the Russian pogost, “graveyard”).

The subsequent development of feudal states on the territory of Latvia was interrupted by German feudal-Catholic aggression, which was part of the Crusades. During the second half of the 12th century, merchants from the cities of northern Germany first appeared at the mouth of the Daugava River. They had the support of German feudal lords and the Roman Catholic Church, and they attempted to gain control of the trade routes that passed through Latvia. At first the leaders of the aggression were the German bishops who established themselves at Ikškile (1186) and Riga (1201), among whom Albert was particularly distinguished by his cruelty. He summoned detachments of Crusaders from Germany and created the Order of the Knights of the Sword for the purpose of combating the tribes that had settled the eastern Baltic region, and he incited enmity among them. By 1205, despite heroic resistance, the Liv tribes had been subdued. In 1207, Prince Viachko, the last ruler of Koknese, when he did not receive aid from Polotsk, burned the fortress of Koknese and went to Rus’. In 1209 the knights captured Jersika, and Tālava fell in 1214. The tribes of the Curonians and Zemgalians, who participated along with the Lithuanians in routing the German feudal lords in battles at Saule (present-day Ŝiauliai) in 1236 and Lake Durbe in 1260, offered the longest resistance. However, the Livonian Order was created in 1237 in place of the Order of the Knights of the Sword, which had been smashed in 1236, and its masters continued the aggression. By the end of the 13th century the economic and political domination of the German feudal lords, who made up the ruling class and exploited the Latvian peasantry, had been established in the part of Latvia that had been conquered by the Crusaders. From the second quarter of the 13th century through 1561, the territory of Latvia was part of Livonia, a confederation of religious principalities established on the territories of Latvia and Estonia, which had been conquered by the Crusaders. German craftsmen and merchants moved to the cities of Latvia, bringing with them their essentially German forms of economic and political organization (city councils, workshops, and so on). The German landowners established their manor-estates in the villages, whereas the peasants who had been expelled from their villages built small farms on individual plots of nearby land or in the forests, thus laying the foundation of the farmstead system of agricultural economy, which subsequently became predominant in Latvia. Relying on the network of fortified stone castles that had been built during the war of aggression, the German feudal lords ensured their domination over the Latvian peasants, compelling them to pay feudal rent. The unit of taxation was called the hak.

The domination of the German feudal lords greatly retarded the cultural development of the Latvian people: The culture of the German feudal lords in Latvia, who to a considerable extent initated the feudal lords in Germany, as well as the distinctive culture of the Latvian peasantry, which was cut off from the dominant stratum by class and national differences, became widespread in Latvia. In the 16th century the Germans, striving to subordinate the cultural development of the native peasantry, published a number of religious books in Latvian. Consequently the ideologues of the German gentry and bourgeoisie created the theory of the Kulturträger (”culture-bearers”); they represented themselves as the supporters and bearers of German culture, which they saw as exercising a decisive influence on the culture of the Latvian people. Actually, the culture of the Latvian peasantry developed in its own particular way.

Period of developed feudalism (14th to early 17th centuries). In the 14th to 16th centuries, the Riga and Courland bishoprics, as well as most of the lands of the Livonian Order, existed on the territory of Latvia. German domination hindered the process of consolidation of the Latvian people: the Latvian nationality took shape only in the early 17th century. The peasants fell under the yoke of feudal and colonial exploitation by the German landowners. Taxes and corvée increased constantly, particularly beginning in the second half of the 15th century. At that time the farmstead system of economy also began to develop rapidly, and tillage of estate lands expanded continuously, since with each decade the demand for grain in the markets of Western Europe grew and its export from Latvia increased. As a result there was also an increase in the exploitation of the peasants, who were resisting the landowners. The flight of peasants became more frequent, although the feudal lords attempted to prevent it: serfdom was first given documentary form in Latvia in 1494 in an agreement between Archbishop M. Hildebrands of Riga and his vassals concerning the surrender of fugitive peasants, and a special judge was appointed to resolve disputes concerning the surrender of fugitives.

A sharp stratification of the peasants began at the end of the 15th century. Along with the farmstead owners, who paid feudal rent to the landowners and the church, there appeared other social groups of peasants who owned small plots or who owned no equipment and who lived on uncultivated lands or on lands owned by a farmsteader. The ties of serfdom bound the peasants, and it was not by chance that as early as the 16th century free persons in Latvia came to be called Germans, and dependent persons, non-Germans.

During the 16th century Riga became the most important commercial and crafts center and port in Latvia. The crafts workshops were characterized by the medieval hierarchy of master, journeyman, and apprentice. As early as the 14th century the craftsmen had joined into corporations, whose masters formed the Lesser Merchants’ Guild; beginning in the mid-14th century the German merchants formed the Great Merchants’ Guild, which monopolized trade in Riga. The Riga craftsmen served primarily commerce and the urban citizens; the village attempted to survive with its own crafts articles. The Germans made themselves masters of the city’s economic life (guilds and corporations), as well as its administration (the Magistrat, or city council). This was also the situation in the other cities of Latvia, such as Cēsis, Valmiera, Limbaži, Koknese, Kuldīga, Ventspils, Aizpute, Rauna, and Straupe.

The regimes of Livonia, especially the Livonian Order and the archbishop of Riga, waged a constant struggle for political hegemony. By the end of the 14th century the order had become decisively predominant, but after the battle of Tannenberg (1410) the archbishop succeeded in attaining equal status. To consolidate his power he organized the Landtag (1419), an assembly of representatives from all the Livonian states, in opposition to the order. The Reformation began in Latvia in the 1520’s, and a moderate trend of Lutheranism became widespread. Landowners registered their serfs as Lutherans. Only the great feudal lords, bishops, and members of the Livonian Order remained Catholic, which further increased the instability of Livonia’s political structure. In particular, therefore, as early as the first few years of the Livonian War of 1558–83, the petty Livonian states ceased to exist (1560–62). Latvian territory north of the Daugava—the Trans-Dvina Duchy in Latvia—came under the dominion of the Rzecz Pospolita (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), whereas the territory south of the Daugava, with the exception of the former Bishopric of Courland, became dependent on the Polish king of the Duchy of Courland. A new partition of Latvian territory occurred.

To reinforce their own dominant position, the Polish-Lithuanian magnates organized a counterreformation: a Jesuit college was established in Riga. Sharp social conflicts took place in Riga, where the patricians were opposed by the burghers and the lower classes of the city’s population, but the only advantage from the Calendar disturbances (1584–89) were derived by the merchants and corporation masters, who gained access to the municipal treasury. The project for the Codex of D. Hilchen, which legitimized the status of serfs in Latvia, was drawn up in 1599. From 1600 through 1630 the project code was operative as a provisional law. The Polish-Swedish War of 1600–29 again laid waste to Latvian territory. According to the Altmark Truce (1629), victorious Sweden acquired the western part of the Trans-Dvina Duchy (the region of Vidzeme as far as the Aiviekste River, together with Riga). The eastern part of Latvia (Latgale) remained under the Rzecz Pospolita.

Late feudalism and the unification of partitioned Latvia with the Russian Empire (mid-17th through mid-18th century). During the 17th century mainly serf-type manufactories appeared in the Duchy of Courland and in Vidzeme. To increase its income, the Swedish government organized checks on feudal land ownership (the hak revisions), and in the 1680’s and 1690’s the Swedish king Charles XI proclaimed most of the estates crown property (reductio), leaving the former owners as leaseholders (tenants). Thus, the state concentrated in its hands about 80 percent of all the estates in Vidzeme.

The subsequent historical fate of Latvia was decided in the Northern War of 1700–21. In 1710, Russian troops captured Riga, and according to the Peace of Nystad (1721), Sweden ceded Vidzeme to Russia. These political changes were favorable for the Latvian people. The unification of the partitioned territory of Latvia within the Russian Empire began. In accordance with the First Partition of Poland (1772), Latgale was annexed by Russia, followed in 1795 by the Duchy of Courland and Piltene Province. From an international political problem of dominance in the Baltic basin, the Baltic question became an internal political problem of Russia, the “Ostsee question,” which was limited by the attempts of the Baltic gentry to maintain political autonomy within the framework of the Russian Empire. This autonomy took shape historically as the result of the traditional dynastic and political ties of the Baltic gentry with the German Empire.

Military actions and a terrible epidemic of the plague (1710–11) caused enormous devastation in Latvia. The first half of the 18th century was a period of reconstruction of the economy, which had been ruined during the Northern War. Exploitation of the peasants increased, but so also did their resistance, particularly in Vidzeme, where in 1729 originated and developed the first major socioreligious movement of the Latvian peasantry— the Herrnhut movement (the Herrnhut Communal Movement). The Northern War was followed by almost 200 years of peaceful development without lengthy wars. The unification of the territory of Latvia created an important prerequisite for the formation of the Latvian bourgeois nation.

Disintegration of the feudal structure and emergence of capitalist relations (late 18th to first half of the 19th century). Favorable market conditions for agricultural products facilitated the growth of commercial farming. The processing of agricultural products (distilling and brewing) developed. However, the productivity of serf labor was low. The peasants acted to overthrow the feudal production relations (disturbances of 1784 in Vidzeme and 1794 in Kurzeme; the Kauguri Uprising of 1802). By way of granting some concessions to the peasants, the gentry of Latvia promulgated the “peasant law” of 1804, which limited serfdom, recognizing that the peasant farmsteaders had at least minimal rights to their land, and defined the degree of exploitation of a particular peasant according to the quality and amount of land belonging to him. However, by means of amendments adopted in 1809 the landowners succeeded in neutralizing the law of 1804 and even increasing the feudal rent.

Peasant disturbances intensified under the influence of the events of the Patriotic War of 1812. The peasants had hoped that the arrival of the French, who occupied Courland Province, would bring them liberation from serfdom, but their hopes were betrayed. To maintain the gentry’s power over the peasants, the tsarist government carried out reforms in Courland and Livonia provinces (1817 and 1819, respectively): the peasants were given personal freedom, but their land remained the property of the landowners. As a result, the peasants became tenant farmers on their own land, paying their rent through the corvée in estate fields. Thus, the development of capitalism in the Latvian village proceeded along the Prussian path, which was painful for the peasants. The landowners attempted to annex the peasant plots to their own lands and to turn the peasants into farm laborers. The peasants’ protest was expressed in numerous disturbances, which culminated during the 1840’s in Cesvaine, Veselaus, and Jaunbebri.

An intensive transition to capitalist relations also took place in the cities. By 1830 there were 54 capitalist manufactories in Riga; however, guild crafts remained the principal form of industry. During the 1830’s and 1840’s capitalist factories replaced handicrafts production. By the end of the 1850’s and the beginning of the 1860’s the industrial revolution had been completed: machines and steam engines were used in steel mills. In 1804 the enterprises of Riga had about 200 workers; in 1840, about 2,000; and in 1859 (in Riga and Livonia Province), 9,000. The urban population increased as follows: the population of Riga was 25,000 in 1792, 40,000 in 1824, and 66,000 in 1853.

Capitalist period: Premonopoly capitalism (second half of the 19th century). During the mid-19th century serfdom in Russia experienced a profound crisis. Latvia experienced peasant disturbances that were considerably influenced by the mass peasant movement in Russia and the 1863–64 uprisings in Poland and Lithuania. The tsarist government was compelled to grant several concessions: in 1861 serfdom was abolished in Latgale; in Vidzeme and Kurzeme peasants acquired the right to buy land; they were granted freedom of movement in 1863; and the corvée was abolished in 1868. With the transition to payment of rent in money, the landowners made more extensive use of wage labor and farm machinery. Beginning in the 1860’s, land that had been taken away from the peasants during “emancipation” was sold to them on one-sided terms. In the 19th century the landowners received more than 100 million rubles from the sale of such lands. A new stratum of landowners was formed, consisting primarily of well-to-do leaseholders who had accumulated capital through the exploitation of farm laborers.

After the reforms of the 1860’s, industry developed rapidly. In 1864, Riga had about 90 enterprises, with a total of 5,670 workers; in 1874, as many as 141 enterprises, with a total of 11,570 workers. The development of industry accelerated the construction of railroads—for example, Riga-Daugavpils (1861), Riga-Jelgava (1868), and Libava (Liepāja)-Romny (1876). Railroad lines connected Latvia with Russian markets and sources of raw materials; such as the Volga Region, as well as with the agricultural centers of the southern provinces of the Russian Empire.

Development of the chemical, metalworking, textile, and food-processing industries continued during the 1890’s. In 1900, Latvia had 404 enterprises of large-scale industry. Riga was the center of industry, as well as of domestic and foreign trade; as much as 70 percent of industrial production was concentrated there. There was an intensified inflow of foreign capital, particularly German, into Latvian industry. The growth of industry and foreign trade was expedited by the economic ties with the central industrial regions of Russia. The cities developed. During the period 1863–97 the urban population (including villages) increased by 203 percent.

The development of capitalism also continued in agriculture. Landowners’ estates were converted to the capitalist system, and the disintegration of the peasantry proceeded. The rural bourgeoisie, which accounted for 40 percent of all peasant households, owned 65 percent of the land, whereas 69.4 percent of the rural population was landless; of these 62.6 percent were farm laborers. German landowners continued to be dominant in the countryside. In the cities the German bourgeoisie owned the banks and concentrated in its hands urban self-government, large-scale trade, and industry. The people suffered from the oppression of the German landowners (in Vidzeme and Kurzeme), Polish lords (in Latgale), and the tsarist autocracy.

During the transition from serfdom to capitalism the Latvian people were formed into a nation. Along with the bourgeoisie, a working class took shape; it was marked by a multinational composition (Latvians, Russians, Lithuanians, and so on). The interests of the Latvian urban and rural bourgeoisie were reflected in the national-liberal movement (the “Young Latvia” movement). The dominance of the German landowners and pastors in public education was opposed by the progressive representatives of the Latvian bourgeois intelligentsia, who contributed to the cultural development of the Latvian people.

The first actions by workers date to the 1870’s and 1880’s. The workers’ movement in Latvia developed in close connection with the workers’ movements in St. Petersburg and other Russian industrial centers. According to incomplete official data, from 1895 through 1904 there were 78 strikes in Livonia Province (with the participation of more than 18,000 workers) and 33 strikes in Kurzeme (with more than 4,000 workers taking part). The strike movement of 1899 began in May with a mass demonstration by the proletariat of Riga, which turned into the Riga Rebellion—an open, armed clash between the workers and the police and tsarist troops. The movement of the democratic intelligentsia originated at the end of the 1880’s. During the 1890’s the Jonatāns, Cerība, and Pavasaris workers’ cultural-educational societies were functioning. During that period the ideas of Marxism became widespread in Latvia, and the first Social Democratic organizations were established (see below: Communist Party of Latvia).

The period of imperialism and bourgeois-democratic revolutions in Russia (1900–17). By the beginning of the 20th century Latvia had become one of the most developed capitalist regions of the Russian Empire. Under the influence of the growing class struggle on the part of Russian workers, the strike movement in Latvia intensified. At the end of 1904 the strikes in Latvia took on a political nature. Under their influence, peasant actions in the countryside became more frequent.

During the Revolution of 1905–07 the Latvian proletariat and the Social Democratic movement occupied, as Lenin noted, “one of the first and most prominent places in the struggle against the autocracy and all the forces of the old order” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 19, p. 305). On Jan. 12, 1905, as a protest against the bloody events of January 9 in St. Petersburg, the Latvian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP), together with the Riga Bolshevik organization of the RSDLP, prepared for a general strike. On January 13 almost 80,000 persons took part in the strike. In clashes with troops, 70 persons were killed and about 200 were seriously wounded. The strike continued until January 20. Large-scale strikes, meetings, and protest demonstrations were held in Liepāja, Daugavpils, and other cities, as well as in rural localities. During the spring of 1905, upon the urging of the Social Democrats, the workers of Latvia formed detachments of military guards. The Latvian proletariat marked May 1, 1905, with general strikes. In June there was an uprising by the sailors of the Liepāja military port, as well as by soldiers in Ust’-Dvinsk (Daugavgrīva) and Daugavpils. On July 9, 1905, the workers went out on a general strike. More than 30,000 persons struck in Riga, and at the end of July there were more than 30,000 farm workers on strike in Courland Province. The strikes were accompanied by clashes with the police and military detachments. On August 6 martial law was declared in Courland Province. On the night of Sept. 6, 1905, a detachment of the workers’ guards attacked the central prison in Riga and freed J. Lācis and J. Ŝlesers, members of the LSDLP who had been sentenced to death. V. I. Lenin highly valued the heroism of the Riga workers’ guards (ibid., vol. 11, p. 269).

During the October All-Russian Political Strike of 1905 the struggle in Latvia was led by the railroad workers. The strike begun by them on October 12 grew into a general strike on October 15 and encompassed all the cities. In October and November the peasants became active, creating without authorization revolutionary bodies of self-government and organized detachments of a people’s militia. A congress of volost (small rural district) representatives from Livonia and Courland provinces assembled on November 19 in Riga; it proposed the replacement of the volost administrations by revolutionary executive committees. On November 25, in response to the declaration of martial law in Livonia Province and upon the call of the Central Committee of the LSDLP, a general political workers’ strike began in Latvia. In late November and early December, under the influence of this strike, armed uprisings occurred in the cities of Tukums and Talsi; there were also outbreaks on the Riga-Orel railroad. In Ventspils, as well as the settlements of Rūjiena, Mazsalaca, Saldus, and Kandava, power passed into the hands of the insurgents. Their main force was made up of detachments of people’s militia. However, the outbreaks were put down. The tsarist government, which dispatched large punitive expeditions to Latvia to smash the revolution, was aided by counterrevolutionary elements of the Latvian bourgeoisie. About 10,000 persons were subject to repression. The proletariat of Latvia retreated while fighting: the strike movement and the struggle of the military guards and the partisan movement in the countryside continued. Martial law was maintained in Latvia until 1908. Certain German barons fired their Latvian farm laborers and replaced them with imported German colonists. In the rural areas of Latgale, where peasant communes still existed, the Stolypin agrarian reform was carried out. From 1907 through 1912, 7,109 peasant farms (about 14 percent) were divided up into farmsteads and noncommune peasants’ allotments.

In 1906 the LSDLP merged with the RSDLP, and an RSDLP organization, the Social Democracy of the Latvian Territory (SDLT), was created. In 1911–14 the strike movement under Bolshevik leadership developed again; it was primarily political in nature. On Apr. 18, 1912, as an expression of angry protest against the Lena shootings, 65,000 workers went out on strike in Riga; strikes also occurred in other cities.

In 1913 the major industrial enterprises had a total of 108,500 workers; including railroad workers, construction workers, workers in small-scale enterprises, and port and commercial workers, the total was about 180,000. In Livonia Province 21 percent of the workers were employed in plants with 500–1,000 employees, and 31 percent worked in plants employing more than 1,000. The chemical, railroad car-building, metalworking, and food-processing industries provided three-quarters of Latvia’s total industrial output; 74 percent of it was exported. The cargo turnover at ports during the period 1897–1913 increased by a factor of 5. The major banks—the Riga Exchange Bank, the Riga Commercial Bank, and the City Discount Bank—had extensive contacts in Russia and other countries. By 1914 the proportion of the urban population had risen to 40.3 percent. During the first half of 1914, Livonia Province alone had 355 strikes (with 183,500 participants). Farm workers also went out on strike.

During World War I (1914–18), Latvia was in the theater of military action, and at the end of 1915 part of its territory (Kurzeme) was occupied by German troops. The war brought great disasters. About 800,000 refugees fled from Latvia, and many of its regions were plundered by the occupation forces. Vidzeme and Latgale were not occupied. Some 395 enterprises (including 90 percent of those from Riga) were evacuated to the interior provinces of Russia.

During the February Revolution of 1917, which was supported by the workers of Latvia and the soldiers of the Northern Front, mass demonstrations by soldiers were held in Riga, Valmiera, Cēsis, and Daugavpils on March 5 (18). On the same day representatives of the Latvian Rifles and Russian units elected a delegation to the Petrograd Soviet. On March 6 (19) the Orgburo (Organizational Bureau) of the Riga Soviet of Working People’s Deputies was created, and on March 7 (20) the first staff members of the Riga Soviet of Working People’s Deputies were elected (the chairman, R. Endrups, and all the members of the Executive Committee were Bolsheviks). In March, soviets were formed in all the cities and small towns of free Latvia; also established were the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies of the Twelfth Army, with an Executive Committee (Iskosol); the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies of the Fifth Army (Armiskom-5); and the Executive Committee of the United Soviet of the Latvian Rifle Regiments (Iskolastrel). The majority in the Iskosol and Armiskom-5 was held by Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s). Commissars of the bourgeois Provisional Government were appointed in Latvia, and bourgeois organizations such as the Vidzeme Provisional Land Council were established. In Latvia, as well as throughout Russia, dual power took shape.

Under the influence of the SDLT, the Riga Soviet expelled the commissars of the Provisional Government from Latvia and succeeded in appointing members of the SDLT as provincial and district commissars. On April 16–18 (April 29-May 1) a congress of workers, landless peasants, and farm laborers (436 delegates) was held in Valmiera; it favored confiscation of lands belonging to landowners and the church. It rejected an SR resolution on land apportionment and elected the Vidzeme Soviet of the Landless, with 45 members, 42 of whom were Bolsheviks (O. Kārkliņš, K. Pētersons, A. Upīts, and P. Bērzgals). In the volosts the Soviets of the Landless mobilized the peasants for a revolutionary resolution of the agrarian question. On May 12–17 (25–30) in Riga, at the second congress of the Latvian Rifles, a Bolshevik resolution was adopted concerning the question of the bourgeois Provisional Government. On June 18 (July 1) demonstrations took place in Riga, Valmiera, and Valka, as well as in the volosts of Latvia, under the slogans “Down with the war!” and “All power to the Soviets!” Confiscation of the landowners’ estates was carried out under the leadership of the SDLT organizations.

In July, in accordance with a resolution of the Fifth Congress of the SLDT (which after the congress was known as the Social Democracy of Latvia), the revolutionary regiments of the Twelfth Army were combined into a left-wing bloc (it consisted of about one-third of the Twelfth Army). The program of the left-wing bloc was also supported by soldiers in other military units. The Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Landless Peasants’ Deputies of Latvia (Iskolat), which was directed by the Bolsheviks, was created on July 30 (August 12). On August 21 (September 3), General L. G. Kornilov surrendered Riga to German troops.

The Great October Socialist Revolution and the struggle for Soviet power (1917–19). On Oct. 16 (29), 1917, the Extraordinary Conference of the SDL, meeting in Valka, supported the resolution of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B) on an armed uprising. On October 18 (31) the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC) of the Twelfth Army was formed in Valmiera; among the members were J. Krūmiņš (Pilāts), K. Gailis, A. Vasil’ev, S. Nakhimson, F. Markuss, and J. Čariņš. MRC’s were also created in Latvian rifle regiments in Valmiera, Valka, and a number of volosts. The MRC of the Twelfth Army carried out the task assigned to it by the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B)—interdiction of movement of counterrevolutionary troops to Petrograd.

After the victory of the October Armed Uprising in the capital on Oct. 25–26 (Nov. 7–8), Latvian and Russian revolutionary units captured Cēsis on October 26–27 (November 8–9), Valmiera on October 29 (November 11), and Valka on November 7 (20). The Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Landless Peasants’ Deputies of Latvia, which met in Valka on November 8–9 (21–22), proclaimed Soviet power on the free territory of Latvia and accepted all civil authority from the MRC. Valka became the center of Soviet Latvia. The Extraordinary Congress of the Soviets of the Twelfth Army, held in Cēsis on November 14–15 (27–28), elected a new Bolshevik Iskosol. Units of the Red Guards were created. In accordance with a resolution of the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B), a company of Latvian Rifles was dispatched to Petrograd to protect the Council of People’s Commissars and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (CEC) in Smol’nyi.

The Second Congress of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Landless Peasants’ Deputies was held in Valmiera on December 16–18 (29–31). Acting on the Decree on Land, the congress passed a law providing for confiscation of landowners’ estates and abolition of feudal ownership of land in Latvia; it established an eight-hour workday for farm laborers. During its work the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR approved the request of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Latgale for separation of the Latgale districts of Vitebsk Province and their inclusion in Latvia. Thus, the congress expressed its feeling that all the territory inhabited by Latvians should be united. The congress elected an Iskolat (chairman, F. Roziņš), which became the de facto first Soviet government of Latvia. It was compelled to inaugurate measures for Soviet construction in the context of a fierce class struggle.

During the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk the German imperialists resumed military intervention against the Soviet state. In February 1918 the entire territory of Latvia was captured by German troops. The landlords’ holdings, which had been confiscated by the Soviet government, were taken away from the peasants and returned to their former owners. The Latvian bourgeoisie supported the occupation forces, but the masses, under the leadership of underground Bolshevik organizations, waged a struggle against the invaders. The annulment of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in November 1918 allowed Soviet Russia to render aid to the working people of Latvia in their struggle against the invaders. After Germany’s defeat, its troops remained in Latvia, with the agreement of American and British imperialists. The governments of the Entente countries facilitated the establishment on November 18 of a bourgeois provisional government headed by K. Ulmanis, the leader of the Latvian bourgeoisie; on December 7 he signed an agreement with the German representative concerning the formation of the counterrevolutionary Baltic Landeswehr, which included Germans, Latvians, and Russian White Guards. On Dec. 9, 1918, a British squadron arrived in Liepāja, and on December 18, British warships entered the port of Riga. During November and December 1918 mass demonstrations took place in the cities and villages of Latvia against the interventionists and the Ulmanis government.

By the end of 1918, in accordance with a resolution of the Seventeenth Conference of the SDL, a Latvian MRC was created in Latvia, led by J. Ŝilfs and J. Zukovskis. Local MRC’s sprang up, and underground soviets were operating in all the major cities. On December 4 the Central Committee of the SDL, with the participation of representatives from the Riga and Valka soviets, adopted a resolution on the establishment of the Provisional Soviet Government of Latvia. The government included P. Stučka (chairman), J. Daniševskis, R. Endrups, J. Lencmanis, K. Pētersons, A. Bērce, and J. Ŝilfs. In its Manifesto of December 17 the Soviet government proclaimed the transfer to the soviets of all power in Latvia. On December 22 the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR published a decree on the recognition of Soviet Latvia’s independence. The action by the Latvian proletariat at the head of the toiling masses was supported by an offensive on Riga by Red Army units and the revolutionary Latvian Rifles. Valka was liberated on December 18, Valmiera on December 22, and Cēsis on December 23. On Jan. 2, 1919, the workers in Riga rebelled, and on January 3 the city was liberated. By the end of January Soviet power had been established throughout Latvia, with the exception of Liepāja.

On January 13–15, 1919, the First All-Latvian Congress of Soviets was held in Riga. Ia. M. Sverdlov, the Chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, greeted the congress in the name of the RSFSR. The congress proclaimed Latvia a socialist Soviet republic and adopted a constitution based on the constitution of the RSFSR, set forth a program of socialist transformations, and elected the Central Executive Committee of Latvia, which was ratified by the government of Soviet Latvia. In March 1919 the SDL was renamed the Communist Party of Latvia (CPL). In February 1919 the Komsomol of Latvia was established. Continuing to combat foreign and domestic counterrevolution, the Soviet government of Latvia at the same time confiscated lands belonging to landowners; it also nationalized land, the banks, and major commercial and industrial enterprises. Sovkhozes were established on former estates. However, certain errors, such as the forced building of sovkhozes and the refusal to allot lands to landless and poor peasants for indefinite use, were made in dealing with the agrarian question. As early as Dec. 30, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR passed a resolution granting Soviet Latvia 20 million rubles to reconstruct its ruined economy. The Soviet Ukraine sent trains with grain. By May 1, 1919, about 100 state enterprises, with 10,000 workers, had resumed operations. An eight-hour workday was established, and social insurance was introduced.

In 1919 socialist construction in Latvia was interrupted by the international forces of reaction. In 1918–20 shipments of arms and equipment to Latvia for a counterrevolutionary army of White Guards and bourgeois nationalists amounted to more than $5 million from the USA and £1.3 million from Great Britain. An 80,000-man army was created (the German Landeswehr and Goltz’s “Iron Division,” Russian White Guards, and White Latvian units). In February 1919 the counterrevolutionary army occupied Ventspils and Kuldīga. In March it began a general offensive in Kurzeme that resulted in the capture of most of the region. Estonian White Guard units were attacking Soviet Latvia from the north, and White Polish units were attacking from the south. On May 22, Riga was captured. The interventionists and Latvian White Guards tortured and killed thousands of revolutionary workers and peasants. At the beginning of January 1920, after fierce battles, all of Latvia was captured by the interventionists and Latvian White Guards. The Soviet Government of Latvia declared its own abolition, and its address “To the working people of Latvia!” ended with the words “Long live new Soviet Latvia!” Bourgeois Latvia was at war with Soviet Russia, but the Latvian Rifles continued to fight for Soviet power on other fronts during the Civil War of 1918–20.

Bourgeois dictatorship (1920–40). Bourgeois Latvia included the former Courland Province, the southern part of Livonia Province (Riga, Cēsis, and Valmiera districts and most of Valka District), the northwestern part of Vitebsk Province (Daugavpils, Ludza, and Rēzekne districts, as well as two volosts of Drissa District), and part of Ostrov District of Pskov Province (area, 65,800 sq m; population, 1.6 million).

The bourgeois government of Latvia, having become convinced of the uselessness of further participation in the anti-Soviet intervention, began peace negotiations with the RSFSR in April 1920, despite pressure from the Entente. On Aug. 11, 1920, a peace treaty was signed in Riga between the RSFSR and Latvia.

The policy of the bourgeois government made Latvia a supplier of raw materials for Germany and Great Britain. Industry, cut off from Russian raw materials and markets and limited by a narrow-based domestic market, fell into decline. In 1932 there were 50,000 unemployed. In 1938 the number of factory workers was 58.7 percent of the 1913 level, and the number of enterprises and the volume of output were 96.2 and 99 percent of the prewar indicators, respectively. Heavy industry suffered particularly. In 1938 there were only nine enterprises with more than 1,000 workers. The development of Latvian industry was retarded by foreign capital, especially German, which in 1935 accounted for 25 percent of all foreign capital investments and more than 15 percent of all capital in the form of shares of stock. In 1938 the proportion of American, British, German, and other foreign banks in the total balance of all private joint-stock banks in Latvia reached 60 percent. Great Britain and Germany accounted for two-thirds of Latvia’s exports. Trade relations with the USSR were barely maintained. The nationalist bourgeoisie followed a policy of making Latvia into an agrarian country. At the expense of ruining the toiling peasantry, large-scale kulak farming was intensified.

Dissatisfaction with the policy of the bourgeoisie increased among the toiling masses. The Communist Party and the Komsomol of Latvia operated illegally. Under the leadership of the Communist Party the revolutionary trade unions in the saeima elections of 1928 succeeded in creating a workers’ and peasants’ faction in the saeima, led by the CPL. Participants in the work of the faction in 1928–33 included F. Bergs, O. Gulbis, L. Laicens, R. Lapins, A. Matisons, and E. Sudmalis. The Latvian proletariat staged large-scale political strikes on Aug. 22, 1928, and Oct. 18, 1929.

The worldwide economic crisis engulfed Latvia. In 1932–33 demonstrations by the unemployed (more than 30,000 persons) occurred in Riga under the slogans “Down with the bourgeois government of hunger and poverty!” and “Long live Soviet Latvia!” Some 61,000 urban and rural laborers took part in political demonstrations. Bourgeois Latvia sought a solution in the establishment of a fascist dictatorship. In November 1933, by a resolution of the saeima, the workers’ and peasants’ faction was eliminated, its deputies were brought to trial, and terror increased. In May 1934 the reactionary Ulmanis clique established an open fascist dictatorship by taking advantage of a split in the working class, part of which went over to the right-wing Social Democrats and the policy of accommodation of the leadership of the reformist Social Democratic Party. All political parties were banned, their press organs were closed down, the saeima was dissolved, and all workers’ organizations and trade unions, as well as sports and cultural societies, were disbanded. Corresponding fascist organizations were created in their place.

In the fall of 1934 the CPL, which was working underground, began to create a united front for the struggle to overthrow the fascist dictatorship. In 1939 unauthorized factory unity committees came into being at many Riga factories and plants. The threat of enslavement of Latvia by fascist Germany intensified with the outbreak of World War II (1939–45). The working people of Latvia expressed their dissatisfaction with the policy of the government, which was prepared to abolish Latvia’s independence for the sake of maintaining bourgeois dominance.

In the fall of 1939 the Soviet government proposed a mutualaid pact to the Latvian government. Under pressure from the toiling masses the Latvian government was compelled to accept the proposal. On Oct. 5, 1939, a pact was signed that provided for the stationing of a small number of Soviet military units on Latvian territory (in Liepāja and Ventspils). Trade agreements were also signed. The mutual-aid treaty did not affect the social or governmental structure of Latvia. It guaranteed Latvia’s national independence and was directed rather at preventing Latvia from being transformed into a staging area for an attack on the USSR. The working class of Latvia welcomed the signing of the treaty. However, the rulers of Latvia sabotaged it and collected anti-Soviet forces in the Baltic area.

In a note dated June 16, 1940, the USSR proposed strict observance of the mutual-aid pact. To ensure fulfillment of the treaty, Soviet troops entered Latvia on June 17, 1940, with the consent of the Latvian government. On June 18–20 workers’ political demonstrations were held in Latvia against fascism and for solidarity with the USSR. A peaceful demonstration by Riga workers who were greeting the Soviet units was broken up by the police and aizsargs (members of a fascist armed organization). The Ulmanis government proclaimed a state of siege. However, the fascist terror could not stop the upsurge of the revolutionary movement of the masses, for the overthrow of the fascist regime and the restoration of Soviet power. A revolutionary situation took shape in Latvia. Led by the CPL, the workers of Latvia overthrew the fascist government on June 20, 1940, and the People’s Government was created, with A. Kirkhenshtein (Kirhenšteins) as president. This was the beginning of the socialist revolution of 1940 in Latvia.

Socialist period.VICTORY OF THE 1940 SOCIALIST REVOLUTION; BEGINNING OF SOCIALIST CONSTRUCTION. The USSR protected Latvia against the interference of foreign imperialists in its domestic affairs. The Latvian proletariat received the opportunity, in an alliance with the laboring peasantry, to unite the majority of the people under the leadership of the Communist Party and to come to power by peaceful means, without an armed uprising or civil war. On the initiative of the CPL a 70,000-person political demonstration was held in Riga on June 21. Revolutionaries were freed from the prisons. Among them were the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPL, J. Kalnbērziņš, members of the Central Committee (O. Auguste, K. Gailis, Ž. Spure, A. Jablonskis, and A. Nurža), and members of the Riga party committee and local party organizations. Mass demonstrations were also held in Liepāja, Rēzekne, Daugavpils, and other cities.

Emerging from underground, the CPL supported the people’s government. The people were assured of their democratic liberties, the aizsargs organization was abolished, the trade unions were reestablished, the eight-hour workday was instituted, the wages of industrial and office workers were increased by 15–20 percent, and all anti-Soviet treaties concluded by the fascist government were abrogated. In the elections of July 14–15 to the People’s Saeima, candidates of the Bloc of the Working People of Latvia received more than 97 percent of the vote. On July 21, 1940, the People’s Saeima of Latvia adopted a resolution providing for the restoration of Soviet power and addressed a request to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to accept Soviet Latvia into the USSR. On July 22 the People’s Saeima proclaimed the state ownership of all large-scale industrial and construction enterprises, as well as private banks; it passed a decree nationalizing land. On Aug. 5, 1940, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR agreed to the request by the Latvian SSR to be made part of the USSR. On August 25 the second session of the People’s Saeima adopted a constitution for the Latvian SSR based on the 1936 Constitution of the USSR. The People’s Saeima was transformed into the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR (with A. Kirhenšteins as the chairman of the presidium). On August 26 the Council of People’s Commissars for the republic was approved (chairman, V. Lācis).

With the fraternal assistance of other republics in the Soviet Union, the Latvian SSR entered on the path of socialist economic and cultural development. Industry was supplied with new equipment, and idle enterprises were reopened. Industrial output in 1940 had increased by 21 percent compared to 1939. The Soviet government implemented agrarian reform and cancelled the debts of the peasants, which amounted to more than 350 million rubles; 52,000 landless persons received 525,000 ha of land, and 23,000 land-starved peasants were given 75,000 ha; 33 sovkhozes, 50 machine tractor stations (MTS’s), and more than 500 machine rental stations were created. The treacherous attack by fascist Germany on the Soviet Union in June 1941 interrupted the early stages of socialist construction in Latvia.

GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR (1941–45). From the first days of the Great Patriotic War the territory of Latvia was the scene of fierce battles. About 45,000 persons were evacuated from Latvia to the country’s eastern regions, where they worked in plants and factories. Dozens of volunteer fighting battalions, as well as detachments of Soviet and party activists, were formed in Latvia. From June 23 through June 29, 1941, although completely surrounded, they fought heroically in defense of Liepāja, along with Red Army men and sailors from the city’s garrison, workers’ detachments from the Tosmare and Krasnyi Metallurgy plants, and Komsomol units. On June 26, Hitler’s troops captured Daugavpils. After a two-day battle the enemy captured Riga (July 1). By July 8, Latvia had been temporarily occupied. Two volunteer Latvian regiments were formed on Estonian territory; from July to October 1941 they fought there and near Leningrad. Latvian military units operated on the Northwestern Front during July and August.

Relying on bourgeois nationalists, the fascists eliminated all the achievements of Soviet power. Under the name of a “general province,” Latvia was made part of the so-called Eastern Territory (Ostland), with its center at Riga. An occupation regime was set up on the territory of Latvia. On August 18 all Latvian enterprises and lands, as military prizes, were declared property of the German state. The sovkhozes and MTS’s were abolished. For reprisals against Soviet citizens, the Hitlerites used bourgeois nationalists, creating “self-rule” and police detachments. Tens of thousands of people were shot or put into prisons or concentration camps (Salaspils, Mežaparks, Mīlgrāvīs, and Liepāja), ghettos (in Riga, Daugavpils, and Liepāja), or numerous prisoner of war camps. Tens of thousands of persons were deported to forced labor in Germany.

However, the Latvian people did not submit to the fascist invaders. They operated in underground groups in cities and villages; a partisan movement developed, with Riga as its center (leaders of the underground struggle included I. Sudmalis and A. Rendnieks). In August 1941, on the initiative of the Central Committee of the CPL and the government of Latvia, a Latvian rifle division began forming; by September it numbered 10,000 men. For its fighting near Moscow and Staraia Russa the 201st Latvian Rifle Division (commander, J. Veikins; commissars, E. Birzītis and P. Zutis) was awarded the title of “Guards Division.” During the war a Latvian Rifle Corps (commander, D. Brantkalns), an antiaircraft regiment, and an airborne regiment were created. Latvian military units took part in battles in the region of Velikie Luki and in the liberation of Latvia.

Aid was rendered to the Latvian partisans by partisans of the neighboring regions of the RSFSR and the Byelorussian SSR. The Latvian partisan regiment “For Soviet Latvia” was created in Leningrad Oblast during the summer of 1942; a Latvian partisan brigade, in the spring of 1943. In February 1943 the staff of the Latvian partisan movement was established. Underground party and Komsomol committees, who led the liberation struggle, were organized on Latvian territory during the spring and summer of 1943. The partisans attacked small Hitlerite garrisons, liquidated traitors and hindered the deportation of people to Germany. During the summer of 1943, Latvian partisans took part in the “railroad war” and other military operations, assisting Soviet troops in the struggle against Hitler’s forces.

During the first half of 1944 three partisan brigades were operating in Latvia: the First Latvian Brigade, under the command of V. Samsons, in the northern and northeastern parts of Latvia; the Second Latvian Brigade, under the command of P. Ratiņš, in the Madona and Lubāna forests; and the Third Latvian Brigade, under the command of O. Oškalns, in the forests of Zemgale. The partisan detachments of A. Macpāns, Sarkanā Bulta (Red Arrow), as well as dozens of intelligence groups, were operating in Kurzeme. Approximately 20,000 partisans fought on the territory of Latvia, including unarmed reserves. They derailed 350 troop trains, disabled 87 tanks and armored cars, and killed and wounded 45,000 Hitlerites. Commanders O. Oškalns and V. Samsons and one of the organizers of the Riga underground, I. Sudmalis (posthumously), were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for their heroism and daring.

During the summer of 1944 the Soviet Army began to drive the occupation forces out of Latvia. On October 11 the battle for Riga developed, and on the morning of October 13 the city was liberated. Together with the staff of the Third Baltic Front, the leaders of the Central Committee of the CPL and the Latvian Government arrived in Riga. By May 1945 all Latvian territory had been liberated from the occupation forces. About 150,000 Soviet soldiers, among them 82 Heroes of the Soviet Union, perished in the liberation of the Latvian lands. About 20,000 soldiers of the Latvian Corps and partisans were awarded orders and medals, and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 28 of them.

BUILDING OF SOCIALISM; THE REPUBLIC DURING THE PERIOD OF A DEVELOPED SOCIALIST SOCIETY. During the postwar years in Latvia there was a renewal of the socialist transformations that had been interrupted by the war. The transition from capitalism to socialism continued. The principal task during the immediate postwar years was the restoration of the national economy and the building of the foundations of socialism. The accomplishment of these tasks was complicated by the enormous damage inflicted by the fascist German invaders on the economy of Latvia. During the occupation the most important industrial enterprises were plundered and ruined. The pool of railroad cars and locomotives was also decimated; the republic’s power-engineering base was reduced to virtually zero capacity. During the fighting 1,990 km of railroad track (more than 62 percent) and more than 550 bridges, including 16 major bridges, were destroyed. The cities of Jelgava, Daugavpils, Rēzekne, Balvi, and Valmiera were left in ruins. Riga was also devastated. More than 800,000 head of cattle, 500,000 pigs, and 100,000 horses were confiscated. Tractors, farm machinery, and equipment belonging to sovkhozes and MTS’s were expropriated. The damage to the Latvian national economy amounted to 20 billion rubles (in prewar prices). Tens of thousands of Latvians died in battle for their homeland; many were shot by the occupation forces or deported into fascist slavery. The population was reduced by more than 400,000 (more than 20 percent). The working class decreased in number. Many enterprises had at their disposal only 50–60 percent of the necessary work force.

The restoration of the economy and the socialist reconstruction of the national economy were facilitated by young Soviet Latvia’s status as a component part of the USSR, as a result of which it could rely on the high-capacity material and technical base of its fraternal republics, use their experience in building socialism, and receive various types of aid—political and material—from their experienced personnel. In accordance with the postwar five-year plan for the restoration and development of the national economy of the USSR during the period 1946–50, Latvia saw the beginning of socialist industrialization, the transformation of agriculture, and the implementation of the cultural revolution. The task of transforming Latvia from an agrarian into an industrial-agrarian republic was set forth. The Latvian SSR received thousands of machine tools, motor vehicles, raw materials, fuel, industrial goods, and food products. Approximately 10,000 skilled workers, technicians, and engineers arrived from the country’s industrial centers. As early as 1947, Latvian industry had reached and somewhat surpassed its prewar level. Thanks to the efforts of the workers, the postwar five-year plan was fulfilled.

Measured by the value of industrial output, Latvian industry in 1950 exceeded the 1945 level by a factor of 6.4 and the 1940 level by a factor of 3. The structure of industry was changed as follows: machine-building (whose output increased by a factor of 24 in comparison with its prewar level) and metalworking took on decisive significance, and new branches of production—such as machine building for power engineering and instrument-making—came into being. The socialist industrializaton of Latvia was an important condition for creating the material and technical base of socialism in the republic.

The development and transformation of agriculture proceeded more slowly. By 1946, land reform had been implemented. State landholdings were 1,517,000 ha, including 605,000 ha taken away from 24,448 large farms whose area exceeded 30 ha, as well as lands of abandoned estates and lands confiscated from kulaks, land speculators, and supporters of the occupation forces. Land went to farm laborers and landless peasant leaseholders, as well as craftsmen and others. By the beginning of 1946 more than 48,800 new farms had been formed and had received 606,000 ha of land for their use, about 90,000 ha was added to 20,897 poor farms, and the new and poor farmers received approximately 100,000 ha more than in 1940. Sovkhozes, MTS’s, and ancillary farms of enterprises and institutions were given more than 184,-000 ha. After the reform there were 251,000 peasant farms (an increase of about 25,000), and their total area was 3,482,000 ha.

The land reform was carried out in the context of a sharp class struggle against the kulaks; it had great political and national economic importance. The reform united the laboring peasantry around the Communist Party and the Soviet government, facilitated the reinforcement of the alliance between the workers and the laboring peasantry, inflicted a heavy blow on the kulaks, and created conditions for the socialist transformation of agriculture.

According to the Leninist cooperative plan, cooperative associations began to be formed in Latvia. In 1946 the first few kolkhozes were established. By the end of 1946 the cooperative movement in agriculture had encompassed 29 percent of the farms. The MTS’s were restored. By the end of 1948, 42 percent of peasant farms had been merged into agricultural and dairy cooperatives. About 900 kolkhozes had been created. During the period of preparation and collectivization of agriculture, party organizations conducted a great deal of educational work among the peasants. Training of personnel for agriculture intensified. The Tenth Congress of the CPL (January 1949) stated that the conditions had been created for a mass cooperative movement among the peasantry. The second stage in the development of Latvian agriculture (its socialist transformation) began. In 1949 collectivization shifted to a mass scale; by November 1, 83 percent of the peasant farms had joined kolkhozes, and by November 1950 it was basically complete: 96.1 percent of all peasant farms (97.3 percent of the land) were collectivized. The government of the USSR provided the kolkhozes with credit, mineral fertilizers, and farm machinery. In 1949, 25 new MTS’s were created and the number of tractor and motor pools doubled.

Collectivization provoked fierce resistance from the kulaks, who with their agents were actively engaged in sabotage, diversions, and acts of banditry in their efforts to hinder peasants from joining kolkhozes. During the course of mass collectivization the kulaks were liquidated as a class. Latvian agriculture was transformed into a socialist agriculture. A new class, the class of kolkhoz peasantry, was formed; it began the further development and strengthening of the republic’s kolkhoz system. The development of agriculture, as well as that of the entire national economy in Latvia, subsequently followed the general principles of the development of socialist agriculture throughout the Soviet Union.

The fundamental bases of socialism were built in the republic. During the 1950’s and 1960’s industry was developed further in Latvia. Dozens of major enterprises came into being, the number of the working class increased, and labor productivity was raised. During the postwar decades more than 200 new industrial enterprises and major workshops were built. In 1972 the industrial output of Latvia was 31 times greater than in 1940. Socialist agriculture was greatly developed. There was an increase in the harvest yield (the amount for 1972 was greater than that of 1940 by a factor of 2.2). Reclamation projects have been extensively developed and all kolkhozes and sovkhozes connected to the state power network. The well-being and prosperity of the toilers of Latvia have been raised considerably.

During socialist construction there was a change in the class structure of society in the republic. With regard to politics and economics the Latvian SSR became just like all the other soviet socialist republics.

A cultural revolution was carried out during the postwar decades. The level of education of the population was raised. There was also an increase in the number of skilled Latvian cadres from the working class and the kolkhoz peasantry; a new, people’s intelligentsia was also created. Various manifestations of bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology were overcome. Party organizations accomplished a great deal in forming a communist Weltanschauung among the broad working masses, which has become predominant.

An academy of sciences and new higher educational institutions, as well as scientific research institutes, libraries, theaters, and other scientific and cultural and educational institutions, were founded in Latvia. The culture of the Latvian people (literature, art, music, and so on), which is national in form, socialist in content, and international in spirit and character, reached a zenith.

Socialism was built in the republic, and the Latvian people have been consolidated into a socialist nation.

Under the leadership of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the republic’s party organizations, and with the fraternal aid of the Russian and all Soviet peoples, Latvia during the postwar years has been transformed into an industrial republic with a highly developed agriculture.

The upswing in the Latvian economy and culture has been accompanied by a general expansion of mutual aid and a deepening of ties with the fraternal republics. Under the conditions of a well-developed socialist society the workers of Latvia, together with peoples throughout the Soviet Union, are working to create the material and technical bases of communism. The republic has 135 Heroes of Socialist Labor.

On July 17, 1965, for its successes in building socialism and in connection with the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of Soviet power, Latvia was awarded the Order of Lenin, and on Dec. 29, 1972, to mark the 50th anniversary of the USSR, it was awarded the Order of the Friendship of Peoples.


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The Communist Party of Latvia is a component part of the CPSU. The spread of Marxism and the emergence of the Social Democratic movement in Latvia began during the 1890’s. The ideas of Marxism were reflected in the Jaunā Strāva (New Trend) movement of the Latvian democratic intelligentsia. Its most prominent representatives were P. Stučka, J. Pliekšāns (Rainis), F. Roziņš, and J. Jansons (Brauns). The first workers’ Marxist circles originated in 1893 in Liepāja; participants included J. Driega, J. Cinovskis, F. Liepiņš, and M. Kāšis. In 1896 revolutionary circles were founded in many Riga enterprises.

After the First Congress of the RSDLP (Minsk, 1898), Latvian Social Democratic organizations were created in Latvia. In 1899 a Social Democratic organization originated in Riga. On Apr. 2, 1900, V. I. Lenin arrived in Riga for talks with the local Social Democrats. Lenin’s Iskra had a great deal of influence on the development of the revolutionary movement in Latvia. Social Democratic organizations in Riga were strengthened. Social Democratic organizations were created in Liepāja and Jelgava in 1901, and in 1902 the Cīna (Struggle) organization in Ventspils and the Strādnieks (Worker) organization in Talsi were formed. A conference of the representatives of these organizations was held in Riga in April 1902; they merged into the Baltic Latvian Social Democratic Labor Organization (BLSDLO), with more than 1,000 members. In 1903 the organization founded an illegal printing plant, and in March 1904 it published the first issue of the newspaper Cīņa.

The Latvian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP) was formed at the First Congress of the Latvian Social Democratic organizations (June 1904, Riga). The congress was attended by 11 delegates, representing Social Democratic organizations with a combined membership of approximately 2,500 persons. Members of the Central Committee included P. Stučka, E. Trei-manis, and J. Jansons (Brauns). The Congress approved the newspaper Cīņa as the central party organ within the country and the journal SociāIdemokrāts, published in Switzerland, as the party’s journal abroad. Also operating in Riga, in addition to the LSDLP, were the Bolshevik organization of the RSDLP, a Menshevik group, and Lithuanian, Estonian, and Jewish Social Democratic organizations.

The LSDLP had ties with the administrative bodies of the RSDLP, and it developed organizational and political-educational work among the masses. The Central Committee and local organizations of the LSDLP published illegal leaflets in Latvian, Russian, and Hebrew. During the Revolution of 1905–07 the LSDLP directed revolutionary demonstrations of the Latvian industrial and agricultural proletariat. In May 1905 there were about 10,000 persons in the ranks of the LSDLP; in November, 15,000–18,000.

The party’s program was adopted at the Second Congress of the LSDLP (June 1905, Riga), which was influenced by the Third Congress of the RSDLP. The important tactical questions of armed uprisings, general strikes, and agitation in the countryside and the army were resolved. The “Spring Conference” of the LSDLP (March 1906) recommended that the Central Committee of the party do everything possible to join with the other Social Democratic organizations of Russia in a unified All-Russian Social Democratic Labor Party with a general program and tactics of struggle.

The question of unification was resolved by the Third Congress of the LSDLP (July 1906, Riga), attended by 40 delegates (among them J. Daniševskis, E. Zandreiters, J. Kažmers, J. Lencmanis, F. Roziņš, and P. Stučka), representing about 11,000 members. The congress adopted the Provisional Project for Unifying the LSDLP With the RSDLP, which had been worked out at the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the RSDLP in April 1906. It laid the foundation for a unified Social Democratic organization in Latvia, which was an autonomous territorial organization of the RSDLP that came to be called the Social Democracy of the Latvian Territory (SDLT). Its first congress was held in July 1906. In May 1907 the Second Congress of the SDLT adopted Bolshevik resolutions. V. I. Lenin delivered a report there on the tasks of the proletariat in a bourgeois-democratic revolution. Repression during the Stolypin reaction did considerable harm to the SDLT. However, it retained its principal organizations and at that time numbered about 5,000 members. Lenin noted that “the Lettish workers’ party has proved to be in the front ranks too during the difficult period of counterrevolution” (Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 19, p. 306).

In 1911 the Mensheviks began to consolidate their position in the Central Committee of the SDLT and on the editorial board of Cīņa. During the summer of 1912 the Bolshevik center of the SDLT and the Bureau of Foreign Groups of the SDLT were formed. The latter maintained close ties with Lenin, who in January 1914 took part in the work of the Fourth Congress of the SDLT, where the Mensheviks were excluded from the party’s administrative bodies. At its tenth conference, held in August 1914, the SDLT was organizationally merged with the Bolshevik Party. At the Zimmerwald Conference of 1915, J. Bērziņš (Ziemelis), the delegate of the SDLT, joined the left-wing group organized by Lenin. From 1914 to 1917 the SDLT published 92 illegal appeals and proclamations with a circulation of about 1 million. Party members evacuated from regions occupied during World War I worked in the Bolshevik organizations of Petrograd, Moscow, Kharkov, Tallinn, Vitebsk, and Rostov-on-Don.

After the February Revolution of 1917 the SDLT came out from underground. The SDLT had more than 1,000 members in Latvia, and there were 2,375 party members in Latvian groups within the party organizations in Russia.

A great role in strengthening party organizations in the struggle for the masses was played by the Bolshevik newspapers Cīņa and Sociāldemokrāts. At the Seventh All-Russian (April) Conference of the RSDLP(B) the Latvian Bolsheviks were represented by J. Vilks, K. Kauliņš, J. Lencmanis, P. Stučka, and P. Eilands. On April 9 (22), Cīņa published Lenin’s “April Theses,” which became the basis for the SDLT’s tactical line, worked out at the Thirteenth Conference, held April 19–22 (May 2–5) in Moscow.

At the beginning of May the Central Committee of the SDLT moved from Moscow to Riga. In the elections to the district and zemstvo (local self-government) councils, as well as to the constituent assembly, the Bolsheviks received about 70 percent of the votes, and in the Latvian rifle regiments they received 96 percent. In May 1917 the Central Committee of the SDLT delegated P. Stučka as its representative to the Central Committee of the RSDLP(B), as well as to the editorial board of Pravda. In July 1917 the Fifth Congress of the SDLT was held in Riga. Its delegates represented 7,672 party members. The resolutions of the congress were based on V. I. Lenin’s “April Theses.” The congress ratified the unification of the SDLT with the RSDLP(B). The party came to be called the SDL. During the fall of 1917, SDL organizations led the struggle of the Latvian Rifles, workers, and landless peasants for the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in the unoccupied part of Latvia.

In February 1918, German troops occupied all of Latvia. Many SDL members moved to Soviet Russia and fought against the counterrevolution there. The members of the SDL who remained in Latvia worked underground. An underground party organization (with 760 members as of February 1918) and two underground printing plants, which published the illegal newspapers Biedrs, Spartaks, and Zinotājs, were operating in Riga. A Russian bureau of the Central Committee of the SDL was established in Moscow. The Seventeenth Conference of the Latvian Bolsheviks was held illegally in Riga on Nov. 18–19, 1918; it spurred the masses toward armed uprising.

Soviet power was established throughout almost all of Latvia in January 1919. The Sixth Congress of the party (held in March 1919), which represented 7,564 members, set the task of promulgating socialist transformations. The SDL was renamed the Communist Party of Latvia (CPL). The most prominent leaders of the CPL during the period of the October Revolution and the Civil War were D. Beika, J. Bērziņš (Ziemelis), J. Daniševskis, R. Eihe, O. Kārkliņš, J. Lencmanis, K. Pētersons, F. Roziņš, P. Stučka (a member of the first Soviet Government, the people’s commissar of justice), and J. Ŝilfs.

In 1920, Soviet power in Latvia collapsed, and a bourgeois dictatorship was established. Many members of the CPL were again evacuated to Soviet Russia, where they fought on the fronts of the Civil War. After the war they joined the program of building socialism. Many members of the CPL who remained in the underground perished (for example, J. Ozols [Ziedonis], A. Bērce, J. Ŝilfs, and M. Čuče). During the years of the bourgeois dictatorship (1920–40) the CPL as an independent party became a member of the Comintern; the party had about 1,000 members. Underground printing plants published Cīņa (the central organ of the CPL), newspapers, journals, and leaflets. Under the leadership of the CPL, the Communist Youth League (Komsomol) was in operation and large-scale political demonstrations and strikes were held. The party strove to use the legal forms of operation, creating left-wing trade unions, workers’ cooperatives, and cultural and youth organizations; it attempted to gain influence in sick-pay offices and student organizations.

After the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in Latvia in 1934, the CPL was deprived of the legal forms of operation. Nevertheless, the party, as it had done before, issued illegal publications and organized circles of workers and intelligentsia. In November 1934 the CPL concluded an agreement to create a united front with the illegal Socialist Workers’ and Peasants’ Party of Latvia. The most prominent leaders of the CPL included E. Ameriks, E. Apīne, A. Bērce, J. Bērziņš (Andersons), F. Deglavs, J. Krūmiņš (Pilāts), J. Laroze, E. Ozoliņš, M. Ozols, P. Stučka, F. Pauzers, J. Kalnbērziņš, M. Krūms, and E. Zandreiters.

In 1940 the toiling masses of Latvia, under the leadership of the CPL and in the favorable situation that had taken shape, overthrew the fascist government and established the People’s Government. After the victory of the socialist revolution, the restoration of Soviet power (on July 21), and the unification of the Latvian SSR with the USSR (August 5), the principal task of the CPL became the leadership of socialist construction. An organizational restructuring of the CPL was carried out. On Oct. 8, 1940, according to a resolution of the Central Committee of the ACP(B), the CPL was again accepted into the ACP(B).

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the CPL led the struggle of the Latvian people against the fascist German invaders and carried out a great deal of work in mobilizing the working class to resist the enemy; it also organized a partisan movement and a party and Komsomol underground. Two operational groups of the Central Committee of the CPL, as well as three oblast and eight district committees, were functioning on the temporarily occupied territory of Latvia; newspapers were also published. Under the leadership of Latvian communists, tens of thousands of Latvian workers fought against the enemy on various sectors of the Soviet-German front.

After the liberation of Latvian territory and the defeat of fascist Germany, the fundamental tasks of the CPL were the elimination of the consequences of the occupation and the restoration of the devastated national economy. The party directed implementation of the socialist transformations that had been interrupted by the war. It also guided the workers’ efforts toward socialist industrialization, the realization of which took place together with the restoration of the national economy. The promulgation of land reform rallied the laboring peasantry around the CPL. During the collectivization of Latvian agriculture, the party sent 4,460 members of the CPL (16 percent of the entire membership) into rural areas. They directed the building of a kolkhoz system, as well as the fight against the kulak class. The Latvian party organization accomplished a great deal of work in the struggle against bourgeois and petit bourgeois ideology, in educating the laborers in a communist spirit, in creating a new intelligentsia and reeducating the old one, and in transforming science and culture from a socialist point of view. Thanks to the self-sacrificing activity of the workers under communist leadership, socialism was victorious in Latvia. During socialist construction the most prominent figures in the CPL were A. Voss, J. Kalnbērziņš, V. Lācis, R. Neilands, A. Peļše, and F. Titov.

Table 2a. Dynamics of growth in membership of the Communist Party of Latvia
 Members of CPSUCandidate members of CPSUTotal
December 1940 ...............2,800
January 1950 ................28,1486,07634,224
January 1960 ................59,5306,41765,947
January 1970 ................115,9396,511122,450
January 1973 ................129,4764,462133,938

Guided by the resolutions of the congresses of the CPSU and the CPL and of the plenary sessions of their central committees, Latvian Communists have strengthened and increased the capacity of Latvia’s party organizations for struggle. The Twenty-first Congress of the CPL (February 1971) thoroughly analyzed the results that had been achieved, summed up accumulated experience, and indicated measures for solving the problems of the building of communism set before the people by the Program of the CPSU and the tasks of the ninth five-year plan for the development of the national economy of the USSR during 1971–75. A prominent place in the work of the Twenty-first Congress of the CPL was occupied by problems of ideological work. In carrying out the resolutions of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU, the CPL is concentrating its attention on organizational and political work among the masses; it is also improving the selection, placement, and training of personnel, as well as the control over the execution of resolutions adopted by the party and the government. Under the leadership and with the aid of the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Communist Party of Latvia has succeeded in turning Latvia into a well-developed industrial-agrarian republic with flourishing culture and science, as well as a high standard of living for its workers. Achievements in the republic’s postwar development are the result of the close unity and friendship of the Latvian people with the peoples of all the fraternal republics of the Soviet Union. Under conditions of a well-developed socialist society, the CPL is mobilizing the efforts of the Latvian working class to solve the problems of creating the material and technical bases of communism. As of Jan. 1, 1973, the CPL had 3,977 primary party organizations. (See Tables 2a and 2b for data on membership and congresses of the CPL.)

Table 2b. Congresses of the Communist Party of Latvia
1st..........................June 7–9 (20–22), 1904
2nd ........................June 11–13 (24–26), 1905
3rd .................................July 1906
1st..................................July 1906
2nd ......................May 21–25 (June 3–7), 1907
3rd ...............................October 1908
4th ...................Jan. 13–26 (Jan. 26-Feb. 8), 1914
5th ...................July 9–19 (July 22-Aug. 1), 1917
6th ..............................Mar. 1–6, 1919
CP of Latvia
7th .............................Feb. 16–23, 1923
8th ...........................Jan. 7-Feb. 6, 1931
CP(B) of Latvia
9th .............................Dec. 17–19, 1940
10th.............................Jan. 24–27, 1949
11th.............................Dec. 27–29, 1951
12th............................Sept. 20–22, 1952
CP of Latvia
13th.............................Feb. 9–11, 1954
14th.............................Jan. 17–19, 1956
15th.............................Jan. 2S-25, 1958
16th.............................Jan. 12–13, 1959
17th.............................Feb. 16–17, 1960
18th............................Sept. 26–28, 1961
19th.............................Dec. 24–25, 1963
20th..............................Mar. 2–3, 1966
21st.............................Feb. 25–26, 1971


Ocherki istorii Kommunisticheskoi partii Latvii, parts 1–2. Riga, 1962–66.


The Latvian Komsomol is a constituent part of the All-Union Komsomol. It was established on Feb. 28, 1919, at the First Congress of the League of Working Youth of the CPL. The Central Committee of the Komsomol included O. Dzenis, J. Krūze, and J. Vintēns. On Nov. 23–25, 1919, a conference of the league was held in Rēzekne, and the league was renamed the Komsomol of Latvia.

In bourgeois Latvia (1920–40) the Komsomol of Latvia operated illegally. It was a section of the Communist Youth International (CYI) and had representatives on its executive committee; it maintained ties with the All-Union Komsomol. The Bureau of Baltic Countries of the Executive Committee of the CYI, which coordinated the activities of the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian Komsomols, was formed on the suggestion of the Communist Youth League of Latvia. The Komsomol of Latvia operated under circumstances of harsh terror. Many prominent Komsomol figures perished. About 40 percent of the personnel of the Komsomol organization were imprisoned. In April 1921 the First Conference of the Latvian Komsomol was held, and a central committee was elected. Many professional revolutionaries worked in the Central Committee and the Oblast Committees of the Latvian Komsomol. Jaunais Komunārs (Young Communard), the central organ of the Komsomol of Latvia, was published illegally. Legal activities were also pursued. Members of the Komsomol took part in antifascist and antiwar demonstrations. Youth committees were created at enterprises, and youth circles at secondary educational institutions. By the time of the convocation of the Fourth Congress of the Komsomol of Latvia (1931), the Riga organization and six oblast organizations of the Komsomol were in operation. The terror, which intensified after the fascist coup in Latvia (1934), removed many Komsomol members from the ranks and rendered impossible the conduct of legal forms of activity. The Komsomol of Latvia established ties with the illegal Socialist Youth League of Latvia (SYLL), which was created in June 1934. On July 9, 1936, the Komsomol of Latvia and the SYLL founded a united organization, the League of Latvian Working Youth (LLWY). Under the leadership of the CPL the members of this new youth organization fought against fascism.

On July 27, 1940, after the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia, the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPL formed the Central Organizing Committee of the Komsomol of Latvia. On Oct. 18, 1940, the Latvian Komsomol (with a membership of 4,581) was accepted by the Lenin All-Union Komsomol.

From the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), Komsomol youth detachments were formed in Latvia. Hundreds of Komsomol members fought at the front. In 1943 an operational group of the Central Committee of the Komsomol of Latvia (led by K. Āboliņš) was created and attached to the staff of the Latvian partisan movement. In 1943, one oblast committee, two municipal committees, and five district committees of the Komsomol were operating illegally. Komsomol members who perished in the struggle against bourgeois nationalists and German fascists included the partisans D. Bankovičs, P. Bogomol’nikov, V. Misa, M. Skreija, and V. Priede.

Operational groups of the Komsomol that arrived in Latvia at the same time as Soviet Army units were organized in 1944. They assisted in restoring Soviet power and the national economy, which had been devastated by the fascist German invaders. The central press organ of the Central Committee of the Latvian Komsomol, Padomju Jaunatne (Soviet Youth), was published in Latvian and Russian. Komsomol organizations were established throughout the country. The Komsomol of Latvia actively assisted the CPL in promulgating socialist transformations—socialist industrialization and collectivization of agriculture.

Under conditions of a fully developed socialist society the Komsomol members of Latvia have contributed valuable initiatives and patriotic innovations. They are in the vanguard of socialist emulation for the fulfillment of production plans ahead of schedule, and they are participating in the campaign to raise production efficiency, based on acceleration of technical progress and an increase in labor productivity, to improve the quality of products, and to make more rational use of production capacities and labor and material resources. Under the direction of the Latvian Komsomol a large number of projects are being carried out by summer student detachments from the republic’s higher educational institutions in various regions of the country.

The Komsomol is constantly adding to the ranks of the Communist Party. In January 1973 there were about 240,500 Komsomol members (there were 4,291 primary Komsomol organizations). Under the leadership of the CPL the Latvian Komsomol is working toward the creation of the material and technical bases of communism and the communist education of the younger generation. (See Table 3 for membership and dates of congresses of the Komsomol of Latvia.)

Table 3. Membership and dates of congresses of the Komsomol of Latvia
 DateKomsomol membership
1st .........Feb. 28-Mar. 1, 1919812
2nd..............January 1922no data
3rd................July 1922no data
4th .............November 1931no data
5th ............May 13–15, 194618,633
6th .............June 3–4, 194839,210
7th .............Feb. 3–4, 194946,283
8th ...........4June 27–28, 195071,990
9th ............Mar. 20–21, 195298,800
10th............Jan. 15–16, 1954118,498
11th............Dec. 21–22, 1955121,711
12th.............Mar. 6–7, 1958117,950
13th.............Mar. 3–4, 1960125,100
14th............Feb. 22–23, 1962153,163
15th.............Dec. 3–4, 1963175,000
16th............Feb. 10–11, 1966190,000
17th.............Mar. 5–6, 1968193,000
18th............Feb. 20–21, 1970206,000
19th.............Mar. 2–3, 1972230,000


Pūce, O. Latvijas komjaunatnes cīnu un uzvaru ceļš (1917–1968):
Literatūras rādītajs. Riga, 1969. Latvijas komjaunatnes vēsture dokumentos, 1917–1970. Riga, 1973.


The trade unions of Latvia are a component part of the trade unions of the USSR. They came into being during the Revolution of 1905–07. The Central Bureau of Riga Trade Unions, which united one-fifth of the city’s workers (25,000 persons), was founded in October 1905. Trade union organizations were established in Daugavpils and Liepāja. In January 1906 many of them were abolished by the police. At the end of 1915 all trade unions were banned. After the February Revolution of 1917 the trade union movement took on a mass nature. The First Conference of Riga Trade Unions was held in May 1917. With the establishment in 1919 of Soviet power in Latvia, most workers joined trade unions. The First Congress of Soviet Latvian Trade Unions (March 1919) adopted a program of political and economic struggle. The Central Bureau of Latvian Trade Unions united 77,000 workers, farm laborers, and office workers. Trade union members took part in implementing the first measures of Soviet power.

After the defeat of Soviet power in Latvia in 1920, Social Democratic leaders seized the leadership of the trade union movement and set a policy of subordinating the workers’ movement to the influence of the bourgeoisie. In May 1921 a split occurred at the Latvian Congress of Trade Unions. The revolutionary left-wing trade unions took part in a strike movement and mass political campaigns. The general strike of Aug. 22, 1928, interrupted the government’s plans to close down the left-wing trade unions. Nevertheless, 14 revolutionary trade unions were banned in July 1931. The CPL organized revolutionary opposition within the reformist trade unions. After the fascist coup of 1934 all trade unions were banned.

In late 1940, with the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia, 23 branch trade unions were created, headed by the Central Council of Latvian Trade Unions. The republic’s trade unions took part in strengthening the governmental machinery, in nationalizing banks and commercial and industrial enterprises, and in advancing hundreds of progressive workers to management positions; they also acted as the initiators of socialist emulation. In 1940 these unions became part of the system of trade unions of the USSR.

During the postwar years the Latvian trade unions have participated in the restoration and further development of the socialist national economy and the republic’s culture. They have acted to improve production management and striven to fulfill production quotas and to inculcate a communist attitude toward labor; they are also concerned with improving the working conditions and everyday life of industrial and office workers, as well as with carrying out the functions of state and public supervision of labor safety and the observance of labor legislation.

The work of the trade unions is directed by the Latvian Republic Council of Trade Unions (LRCTU). Eight congresses of Latvian trade unions have been held. As of January 1973, Latvia had 21 branch republic trade union committees and 7,500 primary organizations, with a membership of 1.8 million. The Latvian trade unions have eight houses and palaces of culture, 235 clubs, 3,000 Red Corners, 290 libraries, 15 people’s universities of culture, five tourist centers, seven raion and city tourist clubs, 276 Pioneer camps, 25 stadiums and 142 gymnasiums, and six swimming pools. As of Jan. 1, 1973, the budget for state social insurance was 120 million rubles.


Bastakov, V. V., and A. E. Dimperan. Profsoiuzy Latvii ν gody Sovetskoi vlasti. Moscow, 1960.

General characteristics. The Latvian SSR has highly developed industry and intensively mechanized agriculture. The economy of Latvia—an integral part of the Soviet Union’s national economic complex—has developed within a system of the territorial division of labor with the other Union republics. Industry provides 66 percent of the aggregate social product and 55 percent of the national income (1972 data). In terms of per capita output Latvia ranks first among the Union republics in the production of main-line passenger railroad cars, streetcars, diesel engines and diesel-powered generators, automatic telephone exchanges and telephone equipment, refrigeration units, plywood, slate, woolen and linen fabrics, knit outerwear, radio receivers, household washing machines, and motor bicycles, as well as by volume of work done by enterprises engaged in domestic services and passenger hauls by railroad transportation (1972). In comparison with 1940, labor productivity has risen by a factor of 9.1. More than 200 types of products have received the State Mark of Quality (1972).

Agriculture specializes mainly in meat and dairy livestock raising and in hog farming; its total output in comparison with 1940 has increased by a factor of 1.3. Further development has been achieved by electrical engineering, the radio industry, electronics, light industry, meat-packing, dairy farming, and fisheries. In agriculture there is continued development of meat and dairy livestock raising, as well as hog raising for bacon.

Latvia has well-developed economic ties with all the Union republics and regions of the country. The republic receives petroleum and petroleum products from Byelorussia, the Volga Region, and Western Siberia; hard coal and metal from the Ukraine; tractors and trucks from Byelorussia; and cotton, wool, and hides from Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. Latvia supplies other regions with automatic telephone exchanges, radio receivers, minibuses, railroad cars, washing machines, and products of light industry and the food-processing industry. A large quantity of export and import cargo passes through Latvian ports. Products of Latvia’s industry are exported to more than 100 countries.

Industry. Industry in the Latvian SSR has developed along the path of concentration; 55 percent of output is produced at enterprises that employ more than 1,000 workers each. Thirty-eight industrial associations using profit-and-loss accounting have been established. Industry in Latvia is basically a complex of manufacturing branches. Transportation machine building, electrical engineering, the radio industry, instrument-making, knitwear, dairying, meat-packing, and the fishing industry are of all-Union importance. Machine building and metalworking employ 33 percent of the workers; light industry, 23 percent; food-processing, 11.7 percent. High rates of development have been achieved in the industrial branches of Group A. The proportion of this group within the total volume of industrial output is 55.4 percent (1972 data).

In 1972, machine-building and metalworking produced 22.7 percent of gross output; light industry, 25.2 percent; food-processing, 29.1 percent (see Table 4).

Table 4. Rate of growth of gross output by branch of industry (percentages of 1940 figures)
All industry...................3635741,039
Power engineering...............374378746
Fuel .......................295320393
Machine building and metalworking.....5681,3082,738
Lumber, wood-products, paper and pulp . .199261362
Building materials ...............4247021,345
Glass and porcelain..............237312594
Light industry..................348413730
Food processing................354531835

The fuel industry is represented by a number of modernized and new peat enterprises (in Seda, Zilaiskalns, Stružani, Baloži, and Olaine). Peat supplies about 10 percent of Latvia’s requirements for fuel and energy resources; 75 percent of the requirements are met by coal, petroleum products, and gas shipped in from other republics. Natural gas is supplied by the Komi ASSR and the western Ukraine. The capacity of Latvia’s electric power plants exceeds 1 million kilowatts (eight times the 1940 level). Electric power is produced at the V. I. Lenin Pļaviņi Hydroelectric Power Plant, the Kegums Hydroelectric Power Plant, and the Riga Heat and Electric Power Plant. Construction of the Riga Hydroelectric Power Plant and the Riga Heat and Electric Power Plant No. 2 is nearing completion.

Table 5. Main types of industrial production
1Industrial production
Electric power (kW-hr) .............251,000,000493,000,0001,672,000,0002,263,000,000
Peat briquettes and semibriquettes (tons) . .7,00010,000156,000
Steel (tons)....................27,90055,10090,700447,000
Rolled ferrous metals (tons)..........23,90058,000143,700435,000
Passenger railroad cars, main-line ......225367596
Diesels and diesel generators.........8,40012,100
Electric light bulbs................1,500,000900,00071,100,000111,000,000
Cement (tons) ..................124,800216,700459,900874,400
Paper (tons) ...................24,40044,80072,400159,000
Cotton fabrics (linear meters) .........20,600,00024,200,00049,800,00069,100,000
Woolen fabrics (linear meters).........1,800,0003,900,0008,700,00012,900,000
Flax fabrics (linear meters)...........3,800,0005,900,00011,200,00018,700,000
Silk fabrics (linear meters)...........3,700,0003,300,00010,300,00014,000,000
Hosiery (pairs)..................3,300,00011,200,00023,900,00060,300,000
Knit underwear (pieces).............3,200,0005,800,00014,300,00028,000,000
Knit outerwear (pieces).............200,0001,400,0003,700,00018,800,000
Leather footwear (pairs) ............1,000,0002,700,0007,400,00012,300,000
Rubber footwear (pairs) ............1,900,0002,900,0006,600,00012,200,000
Motor bicycles and motor scooters......9,700322,000
Radio receivers and radio-phonographs . . .21,500138,000553,0002,251,000
Household washing machines .........100177,000520,000
Household refrigerators .............61,000
Fats (tons)1 ....................23,00014,80025,20033,000
Meat (tons)1 ...................53,80013,70079,900176,000
Fish and marine products (tons)........12,40026,900143,000522,000
Granulated sugar (tons) ............41,00031,200172,000258,000
Preserves (standard jars)1...........8,800,00019,000,000113,500,000223,000,000
Table 6. Sown areas (hectares)
winter rye .................292,000228,000220,000120,000
legumes ..................36,00072,00036,0009,000
Industrial crops................75,00060,00050,00029,000
fiber flax ..................59,00043,00030,00019,000
sugar beets ................15,00017,00020,00010,000
Potatoes ...................139,000149,000159,000119,000
Vegetables ..................9,00016,00016,00013,000
Fodder crops.................609,000383,000745,000834,000
perennial and annual grasses......562,000355,000611,000662,000
Total ....................1,964,0001,413,0001,534,0001,574,000

Steel and rolled steel are produced at the modernized Liepāja Sarkanais Metalurgs Reduction Metallurgy Plant. Facilities built during the postwar years include electrical machinery plants, the Avtoelektropribor Plant, hydrometeorological and semiconductor instrument plants, diesel engine and hardware plants, electrical appliance plants, plants producing industrial equipment and electric lamps, and lighting-engineering plants in Riga; a farm machinery plant in Liepāja; a ventilation-equipment plant in Ventspils; plants producing electric instruments and power chain drives in Daugavpils; and an electrical construction equipment plant in Rēzekne. Modernized installations include a railroad-car plant, the V. I. Lenin State Electrotechnical (VEF) Plant, the A. S. Popov Radio Plant, the Sarkanā Zvaigzne Motor Plant, a shipyard, and plants making farm machinery. Latvia is a principal supplier of electric passenger trains. Radio receivers, radio-phonographs, and transistors made at the A. S. Popov and VEF radio plants constitute 40 percent of the Soviet Union’s exports of these articles. New buildings for the A. S. Popov Radio Plant have been constructed in Riga.

Synthetic-fiber plants in Daugavpils and chemical reagent plants in Olaine were built during the 1960’s; paint-and-varnish plants and chemical-pharmaceutical plants in Riga have been modernized and expanded, and some plants producing household chemicals have been built. In 1971 a lysine shop was established at an experimental biochemical plant in Līvanī.

Enterprises in the lumber, paper, and wood-products industries have been modernized; they are located primarily in Riga, Daugavpils, Liepāja, and Kuldīga. A factory producing punched cards for use in computers and other calculating machines has been built in Jūrmala; as of 1973, construction was continuing on the Bolderāja Combine for the Integrated Processing of Wood. Latvia provides more than 75 percent of the Soviet Union’s exports of matches and matchwood.

The building-materials industry continues to develop. Cement and slate plants in Riga and the settlement of Brocēni were modernized, and many new plants (producing reinforced-concrete structural members, silicate brick, and drain pipes), as well as housing-construction combines and a fiberglass plant in Valmiera (1965), have been built.

In light industry, the production of textiles, garments, leather, furs, and footwear is especially well developed. Outstanding plants in the textile industry include the Bol’shevichka, Rīgas Manufaktūra, and Zasulauka Manufaktūra cotton-textile combines in Riga, the Latvijas Lini Textile Production Group in Jelgava, and the Riīas Audums Silk-weaving Combine. Leather footwear enterprises are mainly located in Riga but also in Liepāja and Daugavpils. A large knitwear combine was built in Ogre (1969), and a haberdashery combine was built in Liepāja (1971).

The principal branches of the food industry are fishing, meatpacking, and dairy farming. The major fishing industry is based on a large commercial fleet. More than 80 percent of the fish is taken by expeditions out into the Atlantic Ocean. Two-thirds of the fish is processed on shipboard facilities. The meat-packing and dairy industries have been supplied with new equipment and have been supplemented by a number of modern enterprises, such as the Rēzekne Dairy Canning Combine (1957). The Riga, Jelgava, Jēkabpils, and Valmiera meat-packing combines have been modernized. A cheese-making plant in Preili and a dried-milk plant in Krāslava (1970), as well as fruit and vegetable canneries and milling combines for flour and groats, have been built. Important development has also been achieved by the mixed-feed industry (in Riga, Madona, Valmiera, Iecava, and Stende). The products of the Dzintars Perfume and Cosmetics Plant in Riga enjoy widespread popularity.

Industry has also developed in the smaller cities, where 138 branches of major Riga enterprises have been established; branches are also administered by the largest enterprises of Daugavpils, Rēzekne, Liepāja, Ventspils, Jelgava, and Valmiera. Applied art has become widespread (artistic weaving, embroidery, knitting, and artistic leatherworking, as well as work in metal, amber, and wood). The production dynamics of the main types of industrial output are shown in Table 5.

Agriculture. During the years of Soviet power socialist changes have been brought about in agriculture; it has been transformed into a highly mechanized, intensive branch. Thanks to large-scale capital investments in agriculture (about 25 percent of all capital investments in the national economy during the postwar period) and as a result of strengthening of the material and technical bases and of mechanization, electrification, and the introduction of scientific methods, labor productivity in agriculture increased by a factor of 3.3 by 1972 as compared to 1940.

In 1973, Latvia had 595 kolkhozes (including 14 fishing kolkhozes) and 236 sovkhozes. In 1972, 30,400 tractors, 6,100 grain-harvesting combines, and 16,400 trucks were in operation.

Table 7. Gross harvest of major crops (tons)
winter rye ...................396,000211,000240,000232,000
legumes ....................33,00071,00034,00016,000
Fiber flax .....................18,00011,0007,0006,000
Sugar beets (industrial).............251,000247,000359,000302,000
Potatoes .....................2,093,0001,934,0001,688,0001,525,000
Vegetables ....................87,000241,000283,000238,000
Table 8. Livestock population (head; end of year)
Cattle .......................986,000812,000938,0001,289,000
cows ......................797,000496,000553,000595,000

Latvian agriculture has a tendency to favor livestock raising. As of 1972, the proportion of livestock raising in the total agricultural product was 66.4 percent; in monetary kolkhoz profits, 74 percent.

In 1972, agricultural land occupied 2,909,000 ha, or 45 percent of the republic’s total land area; of this amount, 56.4 percent was plowed land, 9 percent was hayfields, 32.4 percent was pastureland, 1.4 percent was under perennial plantings, and 0.8 percent was fallow land. Large-scale drainage projects are being carried out: by 1973, 942,000 ha of state-owned and kolkhoz lands had been drained.

During the years of Soviet power the harvest yield of grain crops has increased. First place among the grain crops is occupied by winter rye; wheat, barley, and oats are also widespread. The main industrial crops are flax (primarily in the east) and sugar beets (in the south).

Vegetable growing is well developed in the areas around Riga. The proportion of fodder crops is greatest in the northeastern regions; orchards have been developed to the greatest extent in the western and southern regions of the republic. As of 1972, the area of orchards and berry plantings was 40,000 ha. Floriculture, which produces income for many kolkhozes, is also a popular branch. The sown areas and total harvests of agricultural crops are given in Tables 6 and 7.

The principal trends in livestock raising are dairy and meat cattle breeding and the raising of hogs for bacon (see Table 8).

In 1972 there were 61,000 head of horses. The Kekava Poultry Farm, the largest in the Baltic area, has been put into operation, and the Iecava Poultry Farm was under construction (in 1973).

Apiculture has become widespread, and there are more than 168,000 colonies of bees, primarily in the western parts of the republic. Pond fish breeding is engaged in by 140 kolkhozes and 40 sovkhozes; the total area of the fish ponds amounts to 9,000 ha. Mink, silver fox, and arctic fox are raised on nine sovkhozes and many kolkhozes. The dynamics of state purchases of agricultural products is shown in Table 9.

Transportation. The Latvian SSR’s railroad and maritime transportation, which carry a great volume of transshipment hauls, are of all-Union importance. The operational length of railroad lines is 2,484 km, of which 247 km had been electrified by 1972. Track density is 34 km per 1,000 sq km. The most important railroad lines are Riga-Moscow (with a Daugavpils-Orel branch line), Riga-Pskov-Leningrad, Riga-Vilnius, Riga-Kaliningrad, and Pskov-Rēzekne-Daugavpils-Vilnius. In 1972, 21.5 million tons of freight were shipped out and 34.2 million tons came in; passenger travel totaled 4 billion passenger-km.

In 1972 there were 24,200 km of roads in Latvia, 12,000 km of which were paved (187 km per 1,000 sq km of territory). Freight haulage by trucks in 1972 increased by a factor of 44 in comparison with 1940, and freight transshipment increased by a factor of 23. There are 1,624 bus routes, with a total length of 94,900 km; in 1972 they carried 317.5 million passengers.

The merchant marine is equipped with vessels of the latest design—tankers, dry-cargo freighters (including container ships), and refrigerator ships. Cargo hauls in 1972 had increased by a factor of 18 in comparison with 1950 (8.5 percent of all maritime hauls in the USSR). The chief ports are Riga and Ventspils. Navigable inland waterways total 358 km. The Lielupe River and certain sections of the Daugava are navigable.

Riga is linked by direct air routes with 56 major cities of the USSR and with certain raion centers of the republic.

Gas pipelines lead to the Latvian SSR from Dashava (Ukrainian SSR) and Vuktyl (Komi ASSR); there is also a petroleum pipeline from Polotsk (Byelorussian SSR) to Ventspils and a Novopolotsk-Ventspils petroleum-products pipeline.

Economic regions. The central region occupies 29 percent of the republic’s territory and has 53.6 percent of the population. The Riga Heat and Electric Power Plant and the hydroelectric power plants of the Daugava Power System are located there. The chief branches of industry are machine building and metalworking (mainly in Riga and Jelgava), light industry (Riga, Ogre, and Jelgava), and food processing (Riga, Jelgava, and Jēkabpils). The peat-briquette industry is well developed (Riga Raion), as are the chemical industry (Riga and Olaine), the pulp and paper industry (Jürmala), the building-materials industry (Riga, Kalnciems, Vangaži, and Jēkabpils), and the furniture, porcelain, and printing industries (Riga). As of 1971, the region had 31.2 percent of Latvia’s sown area and the largest areas of grain crops, including 45.5 percent of the republic’s sown areas of winter wheat, 79 percent of the sown area of sugar beets, 25.8 percent of the potato plantings, and 41.9 percent of the vegetable plantings. Livestock raising is highly developed (30.9 percent of the cattle and 38.8 percent of the pigs). The region also has 44.1 percent of the area of Latvia’s fruit orchards. Health resorts have been developed in Jūrmala and Baldone.

The Vidzeme region (northern Latvia) has 27 percent of the territory and 13.4 percent of the population. Industry includes meat-packing and dairying (Valmiera), starch-hydrolysis (Lizums and Vidriži), building materials (Cēsis and Lode), fiberglass and furniture (Valmiera), and paper (Līgatne, Staicele, and Ranka). There is timber procurement and peat industry in Seda and Zilaiskalns. Arable land accounts for 21.9 percent of the region’s area; the largest area is under meadows and pastures (48.5 percent of the region’s farmland). Barley, winter rye, oats, and potatoes are cultivated. The region supplies 16 percent of the republic’s harvest of flax fiber. Fodder crops occupy the largest proportion of the sown area (50.4 percent). There is also a marked predominance of dairy and meat livestock raising.

Latgale (eastern Latvia) has 22.6 percent of the territory and 18.7 percent of the population. It is a region of accelerated industrial development. The region’s industry includes machine building and metalworking (Daugavpils and Rēzekne), chemicals (Daugavpils and Līvāni), light industry (Daugavpils), furniture (Daugavpils), meat-packing and dairying (Rēzekne), and flax-processing; peat is also dug. The region has 27.4 percent of the republic’s plowed area. The proportion of grain crops (rye and oats) is high. The region has 82.6 percent of the flax plantings and 29.4 percent of the potato plantings in the republic. Raising of breeding stock has also been developed.

Table 9. State purchases of farm products (tons)
Potatoes .....................102,00082,000168,000342,000
Vegetables ....................4,00037,00041,00092,000
Livestock and fowl (liveweight) ........19,000131,000144,000288,000
Milk and milk products .............282,000862,0001,203,0001,332,000
Eggs (units)....................16,000,00067,000,000143,000,000356,000,000

The Kurzeme region (western Latvia) has 20.9 percent of the territory and 14.3 percent of the population. Industry includes machine building and metalworking (Liepāja and Ventspils), ferrous metallurgy (Liepāja), sugar refining (Liepāja), and fish canning (Liepāja, Ventspils, and Roja). There is sawmilling, wood-products industry, and production of matches in Ventspils, Liepāja, and Kuldīga, as well as the production of linoleum (Liepāja) and cement (Brocēni). The region has the fishing ports of Ventspils and Liepāja. Its plowed lands occupy 17.5 percent of the republic’s tilled area. Winter rye and wheat, barley, oats, and sugar beets are planted. The raising of breeding stock, as well as fish breeding in ponds, has been developed.

Standard of living. During the years of Soviet power there has been a steady improvement in the population’s standard of living. The rate of growth of the national income in the Latvian SSR is higher than the average for the Soviet Union. As of 1972 the national income had increased by a factor of 2.3 in comparison with 1960, and it exceeded 4 billion rubles. During the period 1965–71 real per capita income grew by more than 40 percent. In 1973 the number of persons receiving pensions was almost 500,000 (as against 239,000 in 1960). From 1951 to 1972 retail turnover increased by a factor of 7.7; in 1972 it was 2.5 billion rubles (more than 1,000 rubles per capita). There were 1,137 savings banks in the republic and the average per capita deposit had increased from 8 rubles in 1950 to 322 rubles in 1972. During the years of Soviet power 16 million sq m of new general housing have been put into service. The available housing space in cities and urban-type settlements in 1972 reached 22.2 million sq m of usable area, as against 11.8 million sq m in 1939. The appearance of the Latvian village has changed; rural laborers have continued to move from their individual farmsteads to kolkhoz and sovkhoz settlements, which are provided with amenities.


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Pribaltiiskii ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1970.
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Veiss, E. E., and V. R. Pūriņš. Latviiskaia SSR: Ekonomiko-geograficheskaia kharakteristika. Moscow, 1957.
Latvia. Moscow, 1968. (Sovetskii Soiuz series.)
Latvijas PSR geogrāfija. Riga, 1971.


Medicine and public health. In 1971 the birthrate was 14.7 per thousand and the death rate was 11 per thousand (as compared to 15.7 in 1940); infant mortality was 16 per thousand live births (73 in 1940). The average life expectancy was 70 years (as compared to 58 years during the period 1934–36). The main causes of death are now cardiovascular diseases and malignant tumors.

In bourgeois Latvia, infectious diseases were prevalent. Poliomyelitis, which broke out periodically with a high incidence of mortality and invalidism, was common among children.

After the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, malaria, and rabies were virtually eliminated through effective organization of mass preventive medical and sanitary measures and the use of up-to-date methods of early diagnosis and treatment.

The Kurzeme Upland is characterized by the greatest density of natural foci of tularemia; ascariasis and trichuriasis are encountered. A higher rate of occurrence of multiple sclerosis has been noted, particularly in Jēkabpils and Tukums raions. There are sources of balantidiasis and goiter in the Vidzeme and Latgale uplands.

In 1971 there were 199 health-care institutions in operation, with 28,800 beds (12 beds per thousand), as against 89 healthcare institutions, with 12,000 beds (6.3 beds per thousand), in 1940.

The hospitals of Latvia have 5,300 beds for internal medicine, 4,400 for surgery patients, 800 for oncologic patients, 300 for ear, nose, and throat cases, 300 for patients with eye diseases, 800 for neurological patients, 1,400 for maternity cases, 1,500 for gynecological patients, and 2,400 for children with noninfectious diseases. There are 393 outpatient and clinical institutions, as well as 505 facilities staffed by feldshers and midwives. The workers at industrial enterprises are served by six medical stations and nine health-care facilities. There are 216 maternity and children’s consultation clinics. The following dispensaries, offices, and clinical departments are in operation: 38 for tuberculosis, 64 for skin and venereal diseases, and 56 oncologic clinics. Latvia has 352 pharmacies and 639 pharmacy stations, and 42 sanitary-epidemiologic centers and divisions.

In 1971 medical aid was provided by 8,700 physicians, or one for every 275 inhabitants (as compared to 2,500 physicians, or one for every 754 inhabitants, in 1940), and 22,700 secondary medical workers (as against 3,600 in 1940).

Physicians are trained at the Riga Medical Institute. A department for advanced training of physicians has been organized on the basis of the institute. Secondary medical personnel are trained at eight medical schools.

Latvia has research institutes in traumatology and orthopedics and experimental and clinical medicine, as well as special-problems laboratories of the medical institute. In 1971 there were 611 scientific and medical workers, including 70 doctors and 399 candidates of medical sciences.

The climatic health resorts of Jūrmala, Sigulda, and Liepāja are popular, as are the balneological resorts of Kemeri and Baldone. In 1971 there were 45 sanatoriums for adults, with 10,400 places (as against 19 sanatoriums, with 2,100 places, in 1940); 14 sanatoriums for children, with 1,800 places (as against three sanatoriums, with 300 places, in 1940); and 28 houses of rest and boardinghouses, with 7,900 places (as against six houses of rest, with 300 places in 1940). Expenditures for public health in 1971 were 98,117,000 rubles (in 1945, 7,976,000 rubles).


Kaneps, V. V. Zakonomernosti i perspektivy razvitiia zdravookhraneniia ν Latviiskoi SSR. Riga, 1971.
Physical education, sports, and tourism. In 1973, more than 2,600 physical education groups (with a membership of 321,200) were operating; there were 26 stadiums, 179 soccer fields, 423 gymnasiums, 147 skiing facilities, 75 tennis courts, 12 swimming pools, four bicycle tracks, and about 2,000 sports fields. The enrollment at 63 children’s and young people’s sports schools and at two schools teaching a higher degree of sports skills was 26,100. In 1944 the republic-level Daugava Sports Society was established; in 1949, the Varpa Sports Society (for rural athletes). During the years of Soviet power 2,100 masters of sports, 68 international-class masters of sports, and 35 honored masters of sports of the USSR have been trained. During the period 1945–72 there have been more than 300 champions of the USSR, 60 European champions, 32 world champions, and six Olympic champions from Latvia (with a total of 23 medal winners at the Olympic Games). The TTT women’s basketball team (Riga) has won the USSR championship 14 times and the European Cup 13 times; basketball players of the SKA team (Riga) have won the European Cup three times. At the Spartakiadas (athletic competitons) of the Peoples of the USSR, Latvian athletes have won eighth place four times as a team (during the period 1956–71).
In 1973 there were about 400 health and sports camps, tourist facilities, and hunting and fishing lodges. The principal tourist routes pass through the regions of Sigulda and Cēsis, as well as along the Gauja, Salaca, Abava, and Venta rivers. In 1972, more than 200,000 tourists visited Latvia (including 24,000 from 36 foreign countries).
Veterinary services. During the years of Soviet power, through the implementation of well-planned health and antiepizootic measures, the following diseases have been eliminated: brucellosis of farm animals, trichomoniasis of cattle, vaginitis verrucosa and vibrionic abortion of cattle, hog and fowl cholera, and equine infectious anemia and lymphangitis, as well as a number of other infectious diseases that were widespread among animals in bourgeois Latvia. The disease rate of tuberculosis among cattle and of swine erysipelas, piroplasmoses, and helminthiases has been sharply reduced.
As a result of natural geographic conditions in Latvia, natural foci of transmissible and certain other infectious and parasitic animal diseases remain. The following are still encountered: infectious atrophic rhinitis of swine, rabies (especially among wild animals), leptospirosis (primarily among swine), and malignant catarrh of cattle. An important problem for veterinarians in Latvia is the struggle against leucosis. Every year since 1958, plans have been developed and implemented for preventive measures against noninfectious diseases of farm animals and the struggle against barrenness and sterility among cows.
In 1973, Latvia had more than 150 veterinary institutions, including 26 stations for combating animal diseases; there are 80 area veterinary treatment centers, and 26 raion epizootic units equipped with veterinary laboratories. Veterinarians are trained by the Veterinary Department of the Latvian Agricultural Academy in Jelgava, and veterinary feldshers receive their training at three technical schools (Bebren, Saldus, and Smiltene). In 1973 there were more than 870 veterinarians and about 1,400 veterinary feldshers working in agriculture in Latvia. The leading research center for veterinary science is the Latvian Scientific Research Institute of Livestock Raising and Veterinary Science.


The first school on Latvian territory was the Doma (Cathedral) School, founded in 1211 in Riga. The first school for the Latvian population was opened during the second half of the 16th century in Riga. In the late 17th century Latvian schools were established in certain rural parishes of Livonia Province. During the 17th century a few higher educational institutions were organized for the children of the privileged estates. The Academia Petrina was founded in Jelgava in 1775.

The laws liberating the peasantry of Courland Province (1817) and Livonia Province (1819) from serfdom also provided for the opening of parish and volost Latvian schools; but their number increased slowly. At the same time the number of schools in the cities for the German population and well-to-do Latvians increased. The Baltic gentry self-government created teachers’ seminaries in Valmiera (1839) and Irlava (1840), where instruction was conducted in German; the goal of this measure was to train teachers for the Latvian schools who would be subservient to the gentry.

The opening in Riga by the Ministry of Public Education of a Russian men’s Gymnasium (1867), the Lomonosov Women’s Gymnasium (1868), and Russian teachers’ seminaries (1870 and 1894), as well as a privately founded polytechnic school (1862; a polytechnic institute since 1896), was of progressive importance. Many Latvians were also educated at these institutions. Ever-increasing numbers of Latvians enrolled at Dorpat (Tartu) University (founded 1802) and at higher educational institutions in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The influence of Russian culture in the region increased; in opposition to this, all church parish schools and some of the volost schools (those under the jurisdiction of the gentry self-government) began to conduct their classes in German in order to germanize the indigenous population.

During the second half of the 19th century the representatives of the Young Latvians spoke out against germanization and the subordination of schools to the church; they demanded instruction in their native language and a broadening of the content of school education. In 1885 the Latvian school system was made part of the Russian school system. An 1887 ukase determined that teaching in the volost schools during the first two years should be conducted in Latvian, whereas Russian should be taught as a school subject; beginning in the third year at parish schools and teachers’ seminaries, instruction should be conducted in Russian. In urban elementary and parish schools, as well as at teachers’ seminaries and other educational institutions, instruction was shifted from German to Russian. During the second half of the 19th century there was a significant growth in the number of schools. According to the 1897 census the population’s literacy rate was 79.7 percent. On the eve of World War I, elementary and secondary schools had an enrollment of 172,000.

The first unified system of general-education schools—a six-year elementary school and a four-year secondary school—was established in Soviet Latvia in January 1919. The schools were separated from the church, and universal compulsory education in the native language was introduced. In 1919 the Latvian State University was opened in Riga; it accepted 3,000 students, primarily from working-class families.

During the period of bourgeois Latvia (1920–40), and especially after the fascist coup of 1934, the bourgeois government strove to limit the people’s education. By the 1938–39 academic year, only 39 percent of those who entered the elementary grades graduated from the six-year school. During the 20 years of the bourgeois regime about 28,000 students entered the university but only about 8,000 graduated.

After the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia in 1940 the foundation for the development of a Soviet system of public education was laid. All educational institutions came under state administration, school and church were separated, free tuition was instituted for working-class children, and a radical restructuring of curricula and programs was begun. The creation of a new system of public education was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War (1941–45).

After the war the great work of restoring the Soviet schools was inaugurated. In many cities—among them Daugavpils, Rēzekne, and Jelgava—almost all the school buildings had been destroyed. From 1946 to 1972 state funds were used to build 345 new schools, with places for 183,300 pupils; kolkhoz funds were used to build 27 schools, with 3,500 places. In September 1944 a resolution was adopted providing for the introduction of compulsory seven-year education; eight-year compulsory education was implemented subsequently. Universal, compulsory incomplete secondary education was introduced in Latvia during the postwar years, and a transition to universal secondary education has taken place. Illiteracy among the adult population has been completely eliminated.

During the 1972–73 academic year, enrollment at 1,101 general-education schools of all types was 363,000 pupils. The network of preschool institutions was expanded. In 1972, 78,400 children were attending 772 kindergartens and nurseries. The number of extracurricular institutions is increasing: as of 1973 there were 34 palaces and houses of Pioneers, eight young technicians’ stations, three young naturalists’ stations, 43 sports schools for children and young people, and one station for excursions and tourism.

From 1946 to 1972, 203,000 skilled workers were trained at vocational and technical schools. In 1973 the 67 vocational-technical schools had an enrollment of 25,000.

Secondary specialized education and higher education developed further. From 1945 to 1971, 139,400 persons graduated from secondary specialized educational institutions; 66,800 graduated from higher educational institutions. During the 1972–73 academic year, 55 secondary specialized educational institutions had an enrollment of 39,400 pupils, and there were 42,500 students at ten higher educational institutions. The largest such institutions are the Latvian University, polytechnic and medical institutes, and an institute of civil aviation engineers in Riga and the Latvian Agricultural Academy in Jelgava.

As of Jan. 1, 1973, there were 1,495 people’s libraries in operation, with total holdings of more than 17 million copies of books and journals. The largest libraries are the V. Lācis State Library of the Latvian SSR and the Main Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR in Riga. There are 57 museums (including branches); among the principal museums are the Museum of History of the Latvian SSR, the Museum of the Revolution of the Latvian SSR, the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, the Arts Museum of the Latvian SSR, the J. Rainis Museum of the History of Literature and Art, the P. Stradiņš Museum of the History of Medicine, and the Nature Museum of the Latvian SSR in Riga; the Latvian Outdoor Ethnographic Museum in Riga Raion; and the Outdoor Museum of History and Maritime Fishing in Ventspils. There are also 1,029 clubs.


Kul’turnoe stroitel’stvo ν Latviiskoi SSR [statistical collection]. Riga, 1972.
Amateur arts. The origin of amateur arts in Latvia dates to the mid-19th century. It acquired mass scope in Soviet Latvia. As of Jan. 1, 1973, 511 choral groups, 650 vocal ensembles, 184 bands, 388 instrumental ensembles, 195 variety groups, 70 motion-picture societies, 1,394 drama groups, 1,081 dance groups, 342 applied and representational art circles, and 106 propaganda theater groups were operating in the republic. The total number of participants in amateur arts has reached more than 150,000. Seven groups have been awarded the title of Honored Group of the Latvian SSR. One form of exhibition of amateur arts is the Song and Dance Festivals. The E. Melngailis House of Popular Creative Art (opened in 1945) is located in Riga.

Natural and technical sciences.RESEARCH IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES BEFORE 1920. Beginning in the 16th century, research was conducted by physicians, pharmacists, and teachers at educational institutions on the territory of Latvia. The well-known physicist G. F. Parrot, who subsequently became an academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, studied osmotic and galvanic phenomena while working in Riga (1795–1801); it was there that he wrote his dissertation, The Effect of Physics and Chemistry on Medical Practice. In 1803 the Latvian chemist D. H. Grindelis founded the Riga Chemical and Pharmaceutical Society, the first in Russia, as well as the first domestic pharmaceutical journal, Russisches Jahrbuch der Pharmazie (1803–10).

During the period from the 16th to the 18th century the geographical and geological study of the territory of Latvia was begun. At the turn of the 19th century, Jelgava became a prominent scientific center. The Swedish naturalist and mineralogist J. J. Ferber, the chemist T. Grotthus, and the metrologist M. G. Pauker taught there at the Academia Petrina. The Riga Polytechnic School, where projects in chemistry and certain branches of technology were carried out, became a major research center. W. Ostwald, one of the founders of physical chemistry, worked at the polytechnic school from 1882 to 1887. He conducted fundamental research on the theory of chemical affinity, electrochemistry, and catalysis, wrote his famous work Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Chemie (1885–87), and began publishing the journal Zeitschrift für physikalische Chemie. S. Arrhenius also worked in Ostwald’s laboratory in 1886, dealing with problems of chemical kinetics and the emergent theory of chemical dissociation. The scientific career of P. I. Walden began in Riga under Ostwald’s direction; Walden subsequently became famous for his research in physical chemistry (the electrochemistry of nonaqueous solutions) and stereochemistry. He worked in Riga from 1888 through 1919.

Original theories of catalysis (I. S. Teletov), crystallization from supersaturated solutions (V. Fišers), solubility of inert gases (A. Antropov), and radioactive decay (R. Svinne) were developed at the Riga Polytechnic Institute (formed in 1896 from the polytechnic school; the institute remained in existence until 1919). Basic research was conducted on the physicochemical properties of optically active organic compounds (P. I. Valden and O. Lucs) and on corrosion (M. Centneršvērs). In the technology of silicates, successful work was done by Professor M. Glāzenaps, who made a great contribution to the study of binders. E. Bricke, who gave the first course in Russia on the theory of inorganic fertilizers (beginning in 1910), also worked at the Riga Polytechnic Institute. Important achievements were made by Latvian mathematicians. P. Bols laid the foundations of the theory of almost-periodic functions. As a student in Riga, F. A. Tsander (Canders) began his research work in space flight theory and rocket construction.

Many scientists who were native Latvians worked at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, as well as at the universities and institutes of Russia (the physicist Ā. Kupfers, the astronomer F. Blumbahs, the biologists E. Eihvalds and K. Panders, the microbiologists E. Zemmers and K. Gelmanis, the mathematician K. Pētersons, and the chemist K. Ŝmits).

NATURAL AND TECHNICAL SCIENCES IN BOURGEOIS LATVIA. During the 1920’s and 1930’s the natural sciences and technology were developed primarily through the efforts of faculty members at the Latvian University. Glazenāps, Centneršvērs, and Fišers continued their work there. Research was conducted in hydraulics (A. Vītols), physical chemistry, and mathematics. A great deal of attention was devoted to problems of the technology of silicates and binders (E. Rozenšteins and J. Eiduks). Studies were made of the problems of biology (P. Galenieks), analytical chemistry (A. Ieviņš, M. Straumanis, E. Igrīve, and G. Vanags), timber chemistry (A. Kalniņš), microbiology and vitamins (A. Kirhenšteins), biochemistry, and medicine (P. Stradiņš). Landscape and hydrogeological studies of Latvia were made, and there was prospecting for various minerals (mainly fuel resources and raw materials for use in construction); problems connected with mineral processing were also dealt with.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s many scientists of Latvian nationality were employed at scientific centers in the USSR (the chemists L. K. Liepiņš, P. J. Saldavs, and R. J. Ūdris; the biochemist A. A. Ŝmits; and the hydrogeologist A. J. Dzens-Litovskis).

DEVELOPMENT OF NATURAL AND TECHNICAL SCIENCES IN SOVIET LATVIA. Soon after the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia, the Communist Party and the government adopted a number of measures for the organization of scientific activity in the republic. This work, interrupted by the fascist occupation, was resumed after the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). A great deal of aid was rendered to the scientific institutions of Latvia by scientists of the fraternal Union republics and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1946 the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR was opened, and a number of research institutes, along with several experimental stations, were established to work on problems in the natural sciences. Scientific work has developed at the university and at other higher educational institutions.

Research on energy and raw-material resources, as well as on problems of developing industry and agriculture, was of particular importance after 1945. Successful work was done on the solution of certain technical problems in the metallurgical, machine-building, chemical, pharmaceutical, and food-processing industries; on problems of forestry; and on the use and processing of wood materials. In agriculture, studies were made of conditions for increasing the harvest of field crops and on the use of trace elements in growing plants and of vitamins and mineral salts in livestock raising; soil maps have also been drawn up. The works of P. J. Lejiņš (agronomy and livestock raising), P. J. Nomals (paludology), P. B. Rizga (apiculture), K. K. Neilands (metallurgy), and J. J. Miķelsons and P. Stradiņš (medicine) exerted a great influence on the development of Latvian science during the 1950’s. The Riga Polytechnic Institute was restored in 1958, and it became an important center for research in the field of technology.

By the beginning of the 1960’s, basic research in the natural sciences was acquiring constantly increasing significance. Work was developed in new, promising branches of science. The Institute of Organic Synthesis of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR was established in 1957; the Institute of Electronics and Computer Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR, in 1960; and the Institute of Polymer Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR, in 1963.

Inorganic chemistry. During the 1960’s and early 1970’s, research in inorganic chemistry was done on the reactivity and physicochemical properties of metals and their compounds. The interaction of metal ions with organic complexing compounds, as well as the plasmochemical processes of synthesis of inorganic compounds, was also studied. Research on the theory of corrosion and protection of metals (L. K. Liepiņš and others) has made possible the development of new methods for protection against corrosion and their introduction into various branches of the national economy. New theoretical positions have been set forth concerning the structure of chelate compounds of transition metals (A. F. levins and J. A. Bankovskis). Original extraction-electrochemical methods have been created for preparing a number of high-purity metals and metal compounds (B. A. Puriņš).

Organic chemistry. In organic chemistry, methods of synthesis have been developed and thorough studies have been made of theoretical problems of oxygen-, sulfur-, and nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds and their reactivity, as well as problems of stereochemistry (S. A. Hillers and others). M. G. Voronkov and his colleagues at the Institute of Organic Synthesis of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR have discovered and studied a new class of compounds, the atranes. Extensive research studies have been conducted in the chemistry of cyclic β-diketones (G. J. Vanags, E. J. Gudriniece, and O. J. Neilands). Methods of synthesis of model analogues of polynucleotides and peptide hormones have been developed, and their functional organization has been studied. Research has been done on the polarography of derivative heterocyclic and carbo-cyclic series, as well as the electrochemical generation of free ion radicals (J. P. Stradiņš).

Particular development has been attained in the chemistry of physiologically active compounds (S. A. Hillers and others). New medicinal preparations have been developed for treating infectious diseases (Furazidin, Solafur, Nitrofurilen, and Letilan), neurological and psychological disorders (Metindion and Midantan), malignant tumors (Ftorafur and Imifos), and cardiovascular diseases (Omephin and Ditrimin). A number of new pesticides (Fenazon and Ratindan), as well as veterinary preparations (Furaxone and Tsiazon), have been developed.

Chemists under the direction of A. J. Kalniņš are searching for the best possible means for the integrated use of lumber, cellulose, and wood-fiber materials to produce chemicals and fodder products (V. N. Sergeeva and P. N. Odintsov).

Physics and astronomy. Research has been done on electromagnetic processes in liquid metals, and the theoretical groundwork has been laid for induction and conduction magne-tohydrodynamic machines (I. M. Kirko) and the theory of heat and mass transfer in magnetohydrodynamic processes (Iu. A. Mikhailov). Problems of plasma chemistry are also being studied.

With the start-up of a nuclear reactor at the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (1961), experiments to determine the effect of radiation on matter, as well as work in nuclear spectroscopy, have become more intensive. Explanations have been provided for the mechanism of radiation processes in ionic crystals and the influence of radiation defects on radiolysis (K. K. Švarcs), and thermodynamic dosimeters have been built to measure nuclear radiation. University physicists have been working on semiconductor and ferroelectric materials and have also been analyzing problems of atomic collisions (V. J. Fricbergs, J. R. Zaķis, and E. K. Krauliņš). Astronomers are calculating the ephemerides of asteroids and their orbits and are conducting research on red giants and on problems of radio astronomy (J. J. Ikaunieks). At the university’s astronomical observatories (the work is under the direction of K. A. Šteins), problems of celestial mechanics are being studied and new astronomical instruments are being built.

Mathematics and cybernetics. In the study of problems of ordinary differential equations, where research traditions date back to the Riga mathematician P. Bols, the most significant results have been obtained in qualitative theory and boundary-value problems; the theory of asymptotic expansions, as well as approximation methods for integral equations, has been developed. Research is being conducted in algebra, mathematical logic, the mathematical theory of automatons, and functional analysis. Theoretical and applied mathematical research is under way at the university’s computer center.

In industrial cybernetics, E. A. Jakubaitis is directing the development of new mathematical models of discrete apparatus and machines constructed on the basis of integrated circuits and homogeneous mediums, the design of an automated system for the synthesis of logic devices, and the development of a theory of probability for automatons. Research is under way on mathematical models of automatic control systems, and methods are under study for synthesis and optimization of such systems (V. V. Pirogov and others). These projects have found practical application in the creation of automatic control systems for enterprises in branches of the national economy.

Technical sciences. The republic’s power engineers have conducted important projects for modernization of Latvia’s energy economy and creation of the Unified Power System of the Northwestern USSR. They developed a theory of automatic control of the heat-supply systems and produced a number of original temperature-control devices (K. K. Plaude and others). The fundamentals of the theory of contactless AC electric machines have been formulated, and original designs for contactless electric motors used in the chemical and petroleum-extracting industries and in transportation electric machine building, as well as for generators used in arc welding, have been produced. New electric power supply systems for passenger railroad cars based on AC rectifiers have been developed (V. V. Apsītis and A. T. Kroģeris).

Research has been conducted in the physics and mechanics of polymers. The Institute of Polymer Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR, which is coordinating studies on this subject throughout the USSR, is directing its efforts toward the development of nondestructive and prognostic methods of testing polymers. Studies are being made of the causes of polymer degradation under various conditions of use. The fundamentals of the science of the strength of polymers have been developed; they may be used as the basis of engineering calculations for parts and structural components made from polymers (A. K. Mālmeisters and V. A. Latishenko).

Scientific workers at technical higher educational institutions have had considerable success in designing semiconductor units for relaying and automatic units of power systems, as well as vibration mechanisms; they have developed the theory and apparatus for the automatic control and regulation of the processes of producing air-entrained concrete. The processes of contact micro-welding with an open fusion zone are also under study, and systems are being designed for automatic monitoring of welding quality.

Biology, agriculture, and medicine. Research on the elucidation of the role of trace elements in plant nourishment has been conducted by J. V. Peive. The study of the effect of biologically active components on physiological functions, including the assimilation of nutrients, has made possible determination of the role of vitamins and trace elements in the bodies of domestic animals and their optimum feeding rates (J. M. Bērziņš and A. R. Valdmanis). The works of J. V. Peive and J. M. Bērziņš were awarded the Lenin Prize in 1964.

Work in botany and ecology (A. M. Ozols and G. S. Sabardina) has taken on great significance for the Latvian national economy. The geobotanical mapping and division of the republic’s territory into small regions has been completed. A great deal of research is under way in forestry, forest management, and the efficient use of timber raw materials. Limnologists have devised a biological typology of the republic’s lakes. Methods for predicting the appearance of pests, as well as biological and chemical methods for protecting agricultural crops and forest plantings (J. P. Cinovskis and others), have been developed. University scientists are studying problems of plant physiology (K. A. Mauriņš and co-workers). Institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR and the republic’s other scientific institutions have done studies on conservation. Scientific questions of the biological protection of inland bodies of water are being treated at the Institute of Biology of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (G. P. Andrušaitis and co-workers); the institute’s hydrobiologists are taking part in the study of subjects of an international biological program.

General, agricultural, industrial, medical, and veterinary microbiology has begun to develop in Latvia under the direction of A. M. Kirhenšteins. Problems of protection of humans and animals from infection have become the center of attention. Studies of the interaction of viruses and cells on the molecular and cellular levels (R. A. Kukaine and others) have made possible the production of effective means of combating viral diseases in humans and animals. Research is under way on microorganisms as producers of biologically active substances. The A. M. Kirhenšteins Institute of Microbiology has developed effective methods for the microbiological synthesis of L-lysine (M. E. Beķeris), glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate, and nitrogin. Extensive study is under way on problems of soil science and agricultural chemistry (K. K. Bambergs and co-workers), zoology and the breeding of farm animals (J. Lūsis), the mechanization and electrification of agriculture (A. A. Cekulina), and reclamation (E. P. Eihe).

In medicine, research is being conducted on problems of oncology, including chemotherapy for cancer, virology, and infectious pathology (for example, viral hepatitis and influenza). The works of P. J. Gērke on embryology, A. A. Ŝmits on problems of nutrition, V. K. Kalnbērzs on traumatology and orthopedics, and M. L. Belen’kii on pharmacology have become well known. Studies have also been made on the problems of children’s surgery (A. P. Bieziņš), hepatology (A. F. Bļugers), and therapy (K. K. Rudzītis).’

Geology. Latvian scholars have published major works on the geology of Latvia, including several on mineral deposits and their origin (V. K. Melnalksnis, K. J. Spriņģis, and P. P. Liepiņš). An important division of hydrogeological research is the study of problems of the water economy, which is of great importance for the republic’s economy. Work is being done on the water supply of cities and other population centers and on the discovery of reserves and determination of the composition of subterranean waters, particularly mineral waters.

Geological and geophysical research in the seas is being conducted by scholars of the Scientific Research Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics. A continuing study of the geological structure of the territory of the Latvian SSR (I. J. Danilāns and co-workers) is under way at the institute.

Geography. Basic research in physical and economic geography has been conducted by scientists at the P. Stučka Latvian University. Research subjects include the geomorphology of the republic’s territory (A. J. Jaunputniņš); geographical landforms (K. G. Ramans); problems of paleogeography (E. F. Grīnbergs), climatology (N. S. Temnikova), and hydrology (A. A. Pastors); and theoretical and practical problems of economic regional division (A. M. Kolotievskii).


Social sciences.SOCIAL THOUGHT BEFORE 1920. The sources of Latvian philosophical thought are in oral folk works; naïve materialism and elementary dialectic were manifested in the people’s interpretation of natural phenomena. The idea of the dominant role of work permeates the principles of folk morality. The Latvian peasantry’s original aesthetic concepts of beauty, as well as the class conflicts of feudal society (the hatred of the Latvian people toward the German invaders who for several centuries oppressed the peoples of the Baltic Region), is reflected in folklore.

During the 13th and 14th centuries the German aggressors, the Crusaders, began to compile “chronicles” to glorify their domination in the Baltic Region. The factual material contained in the chronicles is of considerable interest for historical scholarship, but in their attempts to justify the military campaigns of the German knights, they were permeated with hatred toward the native population and were defensive with regard to the invaders. Only some individual chroniclers, such as B. Rusov in the 16th century and K. Kelch at the turn of the 18th century, depicted the poverty-stricken status of the peasants. Even the ideas of humanism were used by German authors to glorify the system of serfdom in Latvia (P. Einhorns) and the feudal lords’ status as Kulturträger (culture-bearers).

The emergence of economic thought in Latvia dates from the 18th century. Antifeudal works by individual representatives of the Baltic German intelligentsia (J. G. Eizen, H. Jannau, K. Snell, and others) began to appear under the influence of the ideas of the Enlightenment.

The unification of the Baltic Region with Russia made it possible for Latvians to develop their own national culture under conditions of interaction with the democratic culture of the Russian people. Among the progressive German intelligentsia in Latvia, the end of the 18th century brought the beginning of propaganda for materialism and an enlightened education (T. Lau and G. Merkel). During the 1850’s and 1860’s the works of the Russian revolutionary democrats V. G. Belinskii, A. I. Herzen, N. G. Chernyshevskii, and N. A. Dobroliubov became widespread. Certain progressive leaders in the 1860’s were closely associated with Russian revolutionaries; foremost among them was P. Ballod (Balodis), a materialist, atheist, and active leader of the revolutionary movement. The bourgeois nationalist-liberal Young Latvians movement, which was directed against the feudal privileges of the German barons, originated in the mid-19th century. The Young Latvians advocated the development of Latvian culture and the education of the common people. They were the first in Latvian literature to shed extensive light on the problems of philosophy and to develop a philosophical terminology in Latvian. J. Alunāns and K. Biezbārdis, representatives of the Young Latvians, propagandized materialistic views of nature, struggled against religion, and attempted to demonstrate that the world is knowable.

During the last quarter of the 19th century the most important Latvian bourgeois philosopher was J. Osis, a follower of G. Teihmillers (Teichmüller). Works by the progressive publicist G. Merkel, who advocated strengthening of friendship with Russia and criticized the serfdom and feudal oppression of the Latvian peasantry, began to appear at the turn of the 19th century. Ideologues of the German gentry idealized the history of the conquest and enslavement of the eastern Baltic Region and glorified the feudal aggressors.

During the 1860’s a sharp dispute began in historical scholarship between the Baltic German historians (K. Schirren) and the Slavophiles (for example, Iu. Samarin) over the question of retaining the political privileges of the German gentry and burghers. During the 1880’s and 1890’s it was continued by the founder of Latvian bourgeois historiography, J. Krodznieks, and the German historian H. Brünning. The school of apologists for the German influence in Latvia during the 20th century was represented by L. and L. Arbuzov (father and son), A. Tranzē-Rozeneks, and A. Tobīns. The ideological basis of the school was the theory of the German Kulturträger.

During the 1850’s the growth of capitalism objectively facilitated the intensification of the political and economic position of the emerging Latvian bourgeoisie. This was also reflected in economics. Basing their ideas on the doctrine of A. Smith, the Young Latvians exposed the “unnatural” feudal system and privileges of the German barons in the Baltic Region and demanded the creation of conditions for the development of capitalism (K. Valdemārs). In the 1870’s, Latvian bourgeois economic theory began to lose its initially progressive nature, and its chief traits became a struggle against socialist ideas and the establishment of a community of economic interest between the growing Latvian and German bourgeoisie and the German landowners.

In the early 1890’s articles were published in the newspaper Dienas Lapa about dialectic and historical materialism; the works of Marx and Engels, as well as A. Bebel and G. V. Ple-khanov, were popularized. The newspaper propagandized materialism in the natural sciences and realism in literature and art; it criticized the idealistic and reactionary views of bourgeois writers and conducted antireligious propaganda. J. Pliekšans (Rainis), P. Stučka, F. Roziņš, and J. Jansons (Brauns), who were the nucleus of the Jaunā Strāva movement, spread the ideas of Marxist philosophy and scientific socialism among the working class and combated various trends of bourgeois philosophy and sociology.

The first Marxist works on the history of Latvia—The Latvian Peasant (1904) by F. Roziņš and History of Latvia, vols. 1–3 (1908–09), by K. Landers—appeared with the development of the workers’ movement and the spread of Marxist ideas in Latvia.

The development of capitalism and the intensification of the class struggle during the second half of the 1880’s led to critical appraisals of the economic fundamentals of the bourgeois system, at first from the viewpoint of petit bourgeois reformism and then, during the 1890’s, in connection with the emergence of the Jaunā Strāva movement, which had established contacts with workers’ circles, also from a Marxist viewpoint. In a number of works by representatives of this trend, among them P. Stučka and J. Kovaļevskis, there are criticisms of various bourgeois economic concepts and of varieties of petit bourgeois socialism, as well as an exposition of the economic ideas of Marxism.

The newspaper Dienas Lapa regularly published articles on economic questions, criticized the exploitation of hired workers, presented comparative characteristics of the economic efficiency of landowners’ estates and small peasant farms, and provided the theoretical groundwork for the need to create cooperatives. During the 1890’s articles were published that propagandized Marxist economics. After the destruction of the Jaunā Strāva school, Marxist economic theory was propagandized by the first Social Democratic journal in Latvian, Auseklis (1898–1901), which was published in Boston (USA), and by Latviešu stradnieks (1899–1900) and Sociāldemokrāts (1900–05), which were also published abroad. A great deal of space in the newspaper Cīņa was devoted to dissemination of Marxist economic theory.

On the eve of the Revolution of 1905–07, as well as during and after it, a struggle over the agrarian question developed between the revolutionary Social Democrats and the opportunistic and reactionary views of the ideologues of the Latvian bourgeoisie. Latvian Marxists, rejecting the petit bourgeois demands for the cultivation of small private farms, consistently argued for the complete confiscation of landowners’ and church lands, for the nationalization of all land, and for communal cultivation of the estates.

After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the establishment of Soviet power in Latvia, problems of the agrarian question, the organization of distribution of labor, and the corrective adjustment of the financial-monetary system were at the center of the CPL’s economic policy.

The publication in 1900 (in Latvian) of the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels and the establishment in 1904 of the Marxist Latvian Social Democratic Labor Party (LSDLP) were of great significance for the development of revolutionary organizations and the dissemination of Marxism in Latvia. During the Revolution of 1905–07 a number of works by Marx, Engels, Lenin, and other Marxists were published in Latvian. After the defeat of the revolution, Marxist philosophers in Latvia struggled for the purity of revolutionary theory, opposing mysticism and bourgeois individualism. During this period a large role was played by the works of P. Stučka and J. Rainis. Lenin’s book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism found a lively response in Latvia.

During World War I (1914–18), Stučka, Roziņš, J. Bērziņš (Ziemelis), and other Latvian Marxists spread the ideas of internationalism and combated chauvinism. During the preparation and implementation of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the attention of the Latvian Marxists was directed toward propagandizing and carrying out Lenin’s plan of transforming the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution (the works of P. Stučka, F. Roziņš, P. Dauge, and R. Peļše).

SOCIAL SCIENCES IN BOURGEOIS LATVIA. Despite the suppression of Soviet power in Latvia, the ideas of Marxism-Leninism remained alive in the consciousness of the toiling masses. After 1920 the Latvian bourgeoisie unleashed an offensive on the ideological front, disseminating ideas of chauvinism and religious ideology. Bourgeois philosophers (P. Dāle, P. Zālīte, P. Strods, T. Celms, and P. Jurevičs) spread neo-Kantianism, Bergsonism, neo-Thomism, and other schools of idealist philosophy. In 1922 the Society of Religious and Philosophical Sciences was established at the Latvian University. In 1924 the Kantian Society came into being (in connection with the bicentennial anniversary of I. Kant); in 1936 it was renamed the Philosophical Society.

The historians of bourgeois Latvia, in contrast to the Baltic German scholars, devoted greater attention to agrarian history and the study of the Latvian peasantry’s past. After the fascist coup of 1934, bourgeois nationalism flourished in Latvian historiography, historical ties with the Russian people were played down, and the political influence of the Eastern Slavs on the historical destiny of Latvia was denied.

The CPL, which was illegal, consolidated the democratic forces into a united front, organized the study of Marxist literature, and rebuffed bourgeois ideology. The works of P. Stučka (studies of the pressing problems of historical materialism), V. Knoriņš, P. Dauge, and J. Berziņš, who were living and working in the USSR, were of great importance during this period.

The development of Marxist historiography was continued in the USSR by Soviet Latvian historians and active leaders of the revolutionary movement in Latvia (J. Daniševskis, V. Štrauss, J. Zutis, and J. Krastiņš). The period of construction of Soviet Latvia in 1919 was the subject of a collection of essays by P. Stučka (Five Months of Socialist Soviet Latvia, 1919). A historical commission of the Central Committee of the CPL was formed, and collections of documents were published on the history of the CPL and the Red Latvian Rifles, along with memoirs by participants in the Revolution of 1905–07.

During the period 1920–40, Marxist economists developed economic thought, taking into account the specific economic conditions and class struggle in Latvia (problems in the evolution of bourgeois Latvia’s economy, consequences of the disruption of the traditional economic ties with Russia, Latvia’s dependence on the imperialist powers, the development of agrarian relations, and the status and struggle of the working class). Such factors were the subjects of studies by K. Pečaks, F. Deglavs, J. Kiršs, J. Bērziņš (Andersons), O. Dzenis, and J. Krumiņš.

An important trend in Marxist economic thought was the consistent exposure of the antiscientific essence of Western bourgeois and petit bourgeois economic theories (K. Balodis and others), which was the basis for the theoretical groundwork of the antipopulist economic and social policies of the Latvian bourgeoisie. With the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in Latvia, ideas borrowed from the arsenal of German and Italian fascism gained wide acceptance. Since the economic concepts of the Latvian Social Democrats were based on the opportunistic theories of the leaders of the Second International, they idealized the bourgeois agrarian reform in Latvia, propagated the theory of the stability of the small-farmstead economy, asserted that the reformist path would make it possible to achieve a basic improvement in the status of the working class, and propagandized the theory of organized capitalism.

J. M. Endzelīņs, the founder of Latvian linguistics, also worked during this period.

DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AFTER 1940. Philosophy. The wide study, propagandizing, and development of Marxist-Leninist philosophy in Latvia began after the restoration of Soviet power. During the postwar period intense work was done to overcome and root out reactionary, idealistic vestiges in philosophy, science, literature, and art and toward the atheistic education of the workers. The philosophy section of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR, as well as subdepartments of philosophy at the republic’s higher educational institutions, was established. The development of philosophical thought in Latvia has been facilitated by the publication in Latvian of the main works of Marx and Engels, as well as the collected works of Lenin. The works of progressive Latvian thinkers of the past have also been published. Research is being conducted on the history of philosophical thought in Latvia (by P. I. Valeskalns, V. P. Samsons, and V. A. Steinbergs), on the philosophical problems of the natural sciences (by E. J. Karpovics), on questions of the theory of cognition, and on aesthetics.

History. Work on the compilation of a Marxist history of the Latvian people, which had been interrupted by the Great Patriotic War, was resumed at the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (founded in 1946). A group of workers at the institute, under the direction of K. J. Strazdiņš, wrote an academic Marxist course entitled A History of the Latvian SSR (in three volumes in Russian, 1952–58; in Latvian, 1953–59). A number of works were published on the history of feudalism (The Ostsee Question in the 18th Century by J. J. Zutis and the monograph Peasant Disturbances in Vidzeme, 1750–1784 [1956] by M. K. Stepermanis), economic history (the collaborative work Survey of the Economic History of Latvia [books 1–2, 1968–72], which encompasses the period from 1860 to 1917), and problems in the history of the Latvian people’s revolutionary struggle (The Revolution of 1905–07 in Latvia [1952] by J. P. Krastiņš, Survey of the History of the Workers’ Movement in Latvia, 1920–1940 [1959] and V. I. Lenin and Revolutionary Latvia [1970] by A. A. Drīzulis, a monograph by A. P. Spreslis, and a collaborative work about the Latvian Red Rifles).

The history of the period after the October Revolution was illuminated in A. A. Drīzulis’ book Latvia Under the Yoke of Fascism (1959; Russian translation, 1960), as well as the collaborative monograph The Struggle of the Latvian People During the Great Patriotic War (1966; Russian translation, 1970) and in a number of works by V. P. Samsons, V. I. Savchenko, and J. J. Dzintars.

A significant contribution to the study of history was made by scholars engaged in the study of party history. After translating the fourth edition of Lenin’s works and a number of the most important works of Marx and Engels, the Institute of Party History under the Central Committee of the CPL, a branch of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the Central Committee of the CPSU, prepared a number of monographs on the history of the CPL, including two volumes of the Survey of the History of the CPL (1962–66). The third volume has since been prepared. The institute has also published about 50 collections of documents and monographs, such as The Communist Party of Latvia in the October Revolution of 1917 (collection of documents, 1957; Russian translation, 1963), The Communist Party of Latvia in 1918–1919 (1958), Into a Just Battle, a Battle to the Death (vols. 1–2, collection of memoirs, 1965–71; Russian translation, 1968–72), The Latvian Rifles in the Struggle for the Victory of the October Revolution by J. Kaimiņš (1957; Russian translation, 1961), and Tactics of the Communist Party of Latvia in the Struggle for the Restoration of Soviet Power: 1920–1940 by J. Ŝtei-manis (1965). Staff workers at the institute, as well as scholars at other educational and scientific institutions, have worked and continue to work on problems of the history of the CPL: I. K. Apīne, K. J. Kauliņš, and V. K. Miške on problems of the pre-October period; J. J. Biezais and R. E. Treijs on the period of the October Revolution and the Civil War; A. A. Drīzulis, S. V. Ziemelis, and E. R. Līdace on the period of the bourgeois dictatorship; and A. K. Raškevics, V. J. Karaļuns, and A. A. Elvihs on the period of building socialism and the Great Patriotic War.

Research in historiography is developing (the 1970 book Soviet Historiography in Latvia by A. K. Biron and V. V. Doroshenko). Archaeologists have studied more than 100 monuments on the territory of Latvia. Annual ethnologic expeditions are devoted to the study of the everyday life and material culture of the Latvian people. Research in history is also under way at the department of history of the Latvian State University and the subdepartments of the history of the CPSU at the university and other higher educational institutions.


Economics. The restoration of Soviet power in 1940 laid the foundation for a qualitatively new stage in the development of Marxist economics in Latvia. During the 1940’s and 1950’s intensive work was done on problems of the political economy of capitalism, the history of the national economy, and the history of economic thought (F. N. Deglavs, A. I. Leits, A. J. Sviķis, L. V. Starodubskii, J. K. Kalniņš, and G. J. Libermanis), and criticism was leveled at various bourgeois economic concepts. In the political economy of socialism, work was done on the problems of industrialization, the peasant cooperative movement, the creation of the material and technical bases of socialism in Latvia, and the distribution of productive forces (N. A. Kovaļevskis and others).

During the 1960’s and 1970’s studies were made of the problems of further development of the republic’s productive forces (Latvia in the National Economic System of the USSR, 1967, by P. V. Guļāns; the collaborative monograph Problems of Development of the National Economy of the Latvian SSR, 1970, by the staff of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR). Studies have also been made of expanded socialist reproduction under conditions of economic reform (A. J. Sviķis and G. Libermanis), changes in the nature of work under socialism (Ā. M. Veinbergs), and overcoming the differences between city and country (J. P. Porietis). Scholarly work is being conducted in industrial economics (L. Gamrat-Kurek and V. F. Tumševics), mathematical statistics (O. P. Krastiņš), demography (B. J. Mežgailis), and the economic history of Latvia (V. V. Doroshenko and J. N. Netesin). A summary of the research on general questions of economic theory by departments of political economy of the republic’s higher educational institutions is the collaborative work Surveys of Socialist Political Economy (parts 1 and 2, 1970), published in Latvian.

Work is being done on the economic problems of the intensification of agriculture (A. A. Brakšs and J. F. Vanags) and its economic stimulation (The Economic Stimulation of Agricultural Production, 1969, and The Formation of Aggregate Wage Funds on Kolkhozes, 1972, by A. A. Kalniņš), the organization of labor on agricultural enterprises (J. E. Strautiņš), and bookkeeping and accounting (K. J. Andžāns). Research is in progress on the problems of optimization of the socialist national economy (Prices and the Optimization of the National Economy, 1968, and Optimization of Socialist Production, 1972, by J. B. Turčins). Economic and mathematical models have been developed for optimum current and future planning in agriculture (B. A. Treijs and others), and automatic planning and control systems are being designed for various levels of the Latvian national economy.

The centers of study in economics are the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (founded 1946), the Scientific Research Planning Institute of Gosplan of the Latvian SSR (founded 1970), the department of economics of the P. Stučka Latvian State University, and the Latvian divisions of the Union scientific research institutes for the design of computer centers and economic data systems and for the study of market conditions and demand.


Jurisprudence. Before the turn of the 20th century there was not a single higher educational institution in Latvia for the training of lawyers. At the law division of the department of economics of the Latvian University (founded 1919), courses were taught by representatives of bourgeois jurisprudence. The first works of great importance on problems of law were written by the Marxist scholar P. I. Stučka. After the restoration of Soviet power lecturers in law who had been educated at higher educational institutions in the USSR, as well as some of the previous faculty, were employed at the university’s department of economics.

The department of law of the Latvian University was created in 1944; scholarly work on the state and law was conducted in its subdepartments and in the law section founded in 1958 under the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (since 1963 it has been part of the university’s system of scholarly institutions).

Latvian legal scholars have conducted research in the fundamental branches of legal scholarship. Work has been done on the theory and history of the state and law, Soviet state and administrative law, and the development of juridical and political thought in Latvia by O. P. Grīnbergs, V. O. Millers, and E. J. Stumbina. Published works include the collaborative works Survey of the Development of the State Principle in the Soviet Baltic Republics, 1940–1965 (1965, with scholars from Estonia and Lithuania), State and Legal Structure of the Latvian SSR (1968), and On the Theoretical Heritage of P. I. Stučka in Soviet Legal Scholarship (1965) and the monographs The Establishment of the Soviet State Principle in Latvia (1967) by V. O. Millers, History of the State and Law in the Latvian SSR (part 1, 1972) by V. E. Kalniņš, and Soviets as the Political Basis of the Latvian SSR (1972) by L. K. Birziņš.

Soviet construction of civil, labor, family, and kolkhoz law has been studied. The major monographs are Legal Regulation of Kolkhoz Property Relations (1970) by J. J. Strautmanis and Family Law (1970) by J. R. Vēbers. Research is being conducted on the problems of criminal law, criminal trials, and criminalistics, with the goal of increasing the efficiency of combating crime. Monographs published include Bail in Criminal Judicial Procedure (1963) and The Criminal Trial (General Part) in the Latvian SSR and Juridical Proof (1970) by A. A. Liede and the collaborative work Problems of Criminal Law and Trials (1969). Latvian legal scholars have participated in the development of codes and other legislative acts of the republic.


Scientific institutions. As of 1973, the Latvian SSR had 101 scientific institutions (including higher educational institutions), employing about 9,800 scientific workers (in 1940 the figures were 39 and 1,100, respectively). Among the scientific workers there were 23 active members and 26 corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR and more than 220 doctors and 2,900 candidates of sciences.

The republic’s foremost scientific institution is the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (founded 1946). It includes three divisions and 16 research institutions.

A great deal of scientific work is done at branch institutes of Union and republic departments, the Latvian State University, the Latvian Agricultural Academy, the Riga polytechnic and medical institutes, and other higher educational institutions in Latvia.

Latvian scientists are collaborating with specialists from the academies of sciences and other scientific research institutions of other Union republics and All-Union scientific centers. The Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR is cooperating with the L. D. Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics, the A. F. Ioffe Institute of Physics and Technology, the Hydrodynamics Institute of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Nuclear Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in research on heat and mass transfer, magnetohydrodynamics, and nuclear physics.

The Institute of Physics and Power Engineering of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR is conducting joint research studies on the theory of electrophysical processes in semiconductor materials and structures with the All-Union Energoset’proekt Institute, the Institute of Physics and Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the Lithuanian SSR, and other scientific institutions, and it is the chief organization in work on the problems of power production in the northwestern part of the USSR. Scholars from other Baltic republics and the Byelorussian SSR have participated in the preparation of a number of works on the social sciences. Plans are being implemented for cooperation with scientists from the socialist countries, as well as with a number of scientific institutions in Great Britain, France, Finland, and the USA.


Plaude, K. K. “Nauka Sovetskoi Latvii.” In Lenin i sovremennaia nauka, book 2. Moscow, 1970.
Mālmeisters, A. K. “Nauka Sovetskoi Latvii.” In Nauka Soiuza SSR. Moscow, 1972.
Valeskalns, P. I. Ocherk razvitiia progressivnoi filosofskoi i obshchestven-no-politicheskoi mysli ν Latvii. Riga, 1967.
Akademiia nauk Latviiskoi SSR. Riga, 1971.
Poiski i otkrytiia. Riga, 1970.


The first mention of a book with a Latvian text dates to 1525, when a German Mass was printed in Germany in Plattdeutsch, Latvian, and Estonian. The oldest surviving remnants of Latvian printing are the Catholic catechism of P. Canisius (Vilnius, 1585) and the Small Catechism of Martin Luther (Königsberg, 1586). The first printing shop in Riga was founded in 1588. Until the mid-19th century the Latvian book trade was in the hands of German publishers.

Until the 1760’s most of the books issued were religious (during the 17th and 18th centuries a total of 320 to 350 titles were published). The first journal in Latvian was Latviska gada grāmata (Latvian Yearbook, 1797–98), and the first newspaper, Latviešu avīzes (Latvian Newspaper, 1822–1915).

The Latvian democratic press began to take shape in the mid-19th century. In 1862–65 the antifeudal newspaper Peter-burgas avīzes (St. Petersburg Newspaper) was published in St. Petersburg; it played a positive role in developing national, communal thought and culture. During the 1860’s the first Latvian national book publishing houses and printing plants originated. In the 1880’s as many as 200 titles a year were issued in Latvian, with an average printing of 3,000 copies.

From 1893 to 1897 the newspaper Dienas lapa (Daily Bulletin, 1886–1905), under the direction of its editors, P. Stučka and J. Pliekšans (J. Rainis), became the center of the advanced Latvian intelligentsia movement (Jaunā Strāva, “New Movement”), and it was the first in the Latvian press to convey Social Democratic and Marxist ideas. The first Latvian Marxist periodicals, Auseklis (Morning Star; Boston, 1898–1901) and Latviešu strādnieks (Latvian Worker; London, 1899–1900), were published abroad. Beginning in March 1904 the Social Democratic newspaper Cīņa (Struggle) was published illegally in Riga; it was widely disseminated among workers (in 1905 its circulation reached 18,000). The first legal Latvian Social Democratic newspaper, Peterburgas Latvietis (St. Petersburg Latvian), was published in St. Petersburg in 1905–06. Lenin’s works were published in the revolutionary Latvian periodical press beginning in 1902.

The first Soviet Latvian publishing houses, Cīņa (Struggle) and the Publishing House of the Commissariat of Education, began operations in Riga after the establishment of Soviet power (1919). The newspaper Cīņa became the organ of the CPL. During the period of bourgeois Latvia the newspaper Cīņa was published illegally; under extremely difficult conditions the party was also able to organize the publication of the legal newspapers and journals Darbs un maize (Labor and Bread; as a journal in 1922 and as a newspaper in 1928–29), Kreisā fronte (Left Front, 1927–30), and Tribīne (Tribune, 1931–33). The publishing houses Daile un Darbs (Beauty and Labor, 1921–29) and Laikmets (Epoch, 1931–40) operated under the party’s direction.

The development of the Soviet Latvian press in the USSR continued during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The publishing houses Spartaks (Spartacus, 1920–36) and Prometejs (Prometheus, 1923–37) were operating. The periodicals Krievijas cīņa (Russian Struggle, 1918–30), Komunāru cīņa (Communards’ Struggle, 1930–37), and Celtne (Construction, 1929–37) were being published.

The State Board of Publishing Houses and Printing Enterprises, which combined nine specialized publishers (editorial boards), as well as printing and book-trade enterprises, the party’s publishing house, and individual departmental publishing units, was established after the restoration of Soviet power (July 1940). In 1940, 392 titles were published, with a printing of more than 2.9 million copies; 21 newspapers, 35 journals, and other periodicals were also published. The Latvian Telegraph Agency (LTA, since 1973 known as the Information Agency of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR, or LATINFORM) was founded in 1940.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the newspaper Par Dzimteni (For the Motherland, 1943) and others were published under the most difficult conditions of Latvia’s occupation, and the newspaper Par Padomju Latviju (For Soviet Latvia, 1941–44) was widely disseminated. The Latvian rifle units published the newspapers Latviešu strēlnieks (Latvian Rifleman, 1941–46) and Padomju strēlnieks (Soviet Rifleman, 1943–44). The newspaper Cīņa was printed and books were published in Latvian in Kirov and Moscow.

After the liberation of Latvia from the fascist German occupation forces, the republic’s printing base was restored, and publishing resumed on a broad scale.

In 1972 the Latvian publishing houses Liesma (Flame), Zvaigzne (Star), and Zinātne (Science) published 2,591 books and pamphlets, with a printing of 16.4 million; in addition, 114 journals, with an annual circulation of approximately 47 million, and 78 newspapers, with a single-run circulation of 1,334,000 and an annual circulation of 287 million, were published.

The republic’s newspapers include Cīņa (Struggle, since 1904), Padomju jaunatne (Soviet Youth, since 1944), Pionieris (Pioneer, since 1946), Literatūra un māksla (Literature and Art, since 1945), Skolotāju avīze (Schoolteachers’ Newspaper, since 1948), and Sports (since 1955) in Latvian and Sovetskaia Latviia (Soviet Latvia, since 1944) and Sovetskaia molodezh’ (Soviet Youth, since 1945) in Russian.

Among the sociopolitical, literary-artistic, scientific, technical, youth, satirical, and children’s journals are Padomju Latvijas komunists (Soviet Latvian Communist, since 1945, in Latvian and Russian), Karogs (Banner, since 1940), Zvaigzne (Star, since 1950), Padomju Latvijas sieviete (Soviet Latvian Woman, since 1952), Dadzis (Burdock, since 1957), Liesma (Flame, since 1958), Veselība (Health, since 1958), Māksla (Art, since 1959), and Zinātne un tehnika (Science and Technology, since 1960, in Latvian and Russian). In 1973, 27 printing enterprises were in operation.

The republic’s first radio broadcasts began in Riga in 1925. Since 1954 the Riga Television Studio has been in operation. In 1973 the republic’s radio and television carried transmissions in Latvian and Russian on four radio and two television programs.


The development of an independent national Latvian literature began in the mid-19th century, at the same time as the growth of the national liberation movement. The German feudal lords under whose yoke Latvia came in the 13th century artificially retarded this development, and it was only in the 16th century that the first religious books were published in Latvian. The first secular books, also published by the Germans, appeared only in the mid-18th century. Latvian literature relied on the rich traditions of native folklore—folk songs, tales, and legends. The most complete first edition of Latvian folk songs, Latvian Dainas (vols. 1–6, 1894–1915), was compiled by the Latvian folklorist K. Barons (1835–1923). Little Songs (1856) by J. A. Alunāns (1832–64) laid the foundations for Latvian national written poetry. The works of the representatives of “folk romanticism”—Auseklis (M. Krogzemis, 1850–79) and A. Pumpurs (1841–1902), the author of the epic poem Lāčplēsis (1888)—were of a clearly expressed antifeudal nature. They reflected the ideas of the national liberation movement.

The first important achievements in Latvian prose were the novel Surveyors’ Times (1879) by the brothers Matīss Kaudzīte (1848–1926) and Reinis Kaudzīte (1839–1920) and the short stories of Apsīšu Jēkabs (J. Jaunzems, 1858–1929) about rural life. The creative art of Latvian writers was influenced by Russian realism. The foundations of Latvian drama were laid by A. Alunāns (1848–1912) during the 1870’s and 1880’s.

A new stage in literature, which began in the 1890’s, was associated with the school of thought known as Jauna Strava, the growth of the workers’ movement, and the emergence of Marxist thought in Latvia. The greatest Latvian poet, J. Rainis (Pliekšans, 1865–1929), began his literary career at that time. The verses of the revolutionary poet E. Veidenbaums (1867–92) became widespread; he called for the enslavers’ yoke to be cast off. The Latvian poet Aspazija (Elza Pliekšāne, née Rozenberga, 1865–1943) produced poems that were permeated with the romanticism of struggle (Red Flowers, 1897), as well as plays (Lost Rights, 1894). E. Treimanis (Zvārgulis, 1866–1950) wrote about the hard life of laborers. The talent of R. Blaumanis (1863–1908), a master of the short story (”Raudupiete,” 1889; “Spring Frosts,” 1898; “Andriksons,” 1899; and “In the Shadow of Death,” 1899) and drama (The Prodigal Son, 1893; Indrān, 1904; and In the Fire, 1905), developed in the 1890’s. His works reflected the life of the peasantry and the decline of patriarchal relations in the countryside. During the 1890’s, J. Poruks (1871–1911), one of the most original Latvian romantic poets, entered the field of literature. Realistic prose was represented by Pērsietis (K. Zemītis, 1862–1901) and E. Zeibolts (1867–1924). Marxist literary criticism began to develop (J. Jansons [Brauns], 1872–1917).

The Revolution of 1905–07 had an extremely great influence on Latvian literature. J. Rainis became a prophet of the revolution. His collections of poems Distant Echoes of a Blue Evening (1903), Crops of the Storm (1905), and A Quiet Book (1909) expressed, in allegorical images and in a romantically generalized way, the mood of the masses and the strivings of the revolutionary proletariat. Rainis’ play Fire and the Night (1905) was devoted to the workers’ struggle for their freedom. Other very significant plays by Rainis were Indulis and Ārija (1911), Blow, Little Breeze! (1913), and Joseph and His Brothers (1919). Advanced in form and profound in philosophy, Rainis’ poems and dramas have become part of the golden treasury of world literature.

V. Plūdonis (1874–1940), who became famous for his narrative poem The Widow’s Son (1900), became a master of the Latvian ballad. Faith in the victory of the revolution emanates from his allegorical narrative poem Into the Sunlit Distance (1912). The atmosphere of revolution temporarily gave a socially progressive nature to the work of the romantics J. Akuraters (1876–1937) and K. Skalbe (1879–1945). The poetry of F. Barda (1880–1919) also belongs to romanticism.

Whereas Rainis expressed socialistic ideals by means of his romantically symbolic art, another very important Latvian writer, A. Upīts (1877–1970), proceeded toward this goal along the path of realism, developing critical realism and laying the foundations of socialist realism in Latvian prose and drama. His novella The Bourgeois (1907) and novels The New Sources (1908), Woman (1910), In a Silken Web (1912), and Gold (1914), as well as his short stories, broadly reflect the life of that time, show the characteristic types of the period, and expose the capitalist system. Realistic prose has also been enriched by the works of E. Birznieks-Upītis (1871–1960), such as his short stories about the Latvian village (the collection Stories of a Gray Stone, 1914). He broadened the thematic materials of Latvian literature by means of his Caucasian Stories (1927). Important contributions to prose were made by the writers J. Jaunsudrabiņš (1877–1962), A. Brigadere (1861–1933), Sudrabu Edžus (1860–1941), and A. Deglavs (1862–1922). Birznieks-Upītis, Jaunsudrabiņš, Brigadere, and Sudrabu Edžus also wrote works for children.

Rapidly growing Marxist literary criticism, as espoused by Jansons (Brauns), Upīts, V. Knoriņš (1890–1939), R. Pelše (1880–1955), and V. Dermanis (1875–1938), successfully combated the Latvian “decadents,” who became active after the defeat of the Revolution of 1905–07 (V. Eglītis and others).

Soviet Latvian literature was born during the period of the Great October Socialist Revolution. In 1919, Latvia became part of the Soviet system. The principles of the Communist Party permeated the works of A. Arājs-Bērce (1890–1921). In prose, the short stories of Upīts (the collection The Thaw, 1919), E. Eferts-Klusais (1889–1927), and A. Brūklenājs (1891–1918) were outstanding.

In bourgeois Latvia during the 1920’s and 1930’s, literature developed in an atmosphere of an acute class struggle. Reactionary literature was characterized by nationalistic chauvinism, glorification of Latvia’s bourgeois system, and idealization of rural life. The revolutionary writers L. Laicens (1883–1938), L. Paegle (1890–1926), A. Balodis (born 1908), and M. Rudzītis (1910–66) called for struggle against the existing order and for restoration of Soviet Latvia. Paegle’s collection of poems Prisons Will Not Help (1925) and Laicens’ novel The Cells Called Up (1930) embody the militant spirit of revolutionary Latvian literature. Rainis published five collections of poems, Dagda’s Five Sketchbooks (1920–25); significant works were written by J. Sudrabkalus (born 1894), A. Čaks (1901–50), and J. Grots (1901–68).

Upīts remained the supreme master of prose during the 1920’s and 1930’s (his novels North Wind, 1921; Over the Rainbow Bridge, 1926; The Return of Janis Robežnieks, 1932; and At the Border of the Centuries, 1937–40; and the short story “The Battle of the Winds,” 1920; and “A Bare Life,” 1926). V. Lācis (1904–66) entered the literary arena at the end of the 1920’s. His novel The Fisherman’s Son (vols. 1–2, 1933–34) and other works became widely known. Important prose works were created by P. Rozītis (1889–1937), Jaunsudrabiņš, and J. Ezeriņš (1891–1924). In dramaturgy, the genre of satirical comedy reached a high level (plays by Upīts and others). Upīts’ tragedies Mirabeau (1926) and Joan of Arc (1930) were outstanding among works on historical themes.

Soviet Latvian literature during the 1920’s and 1930’s existed outside Latvia, in the Soviet Union (Sudrabu Edžus; Eferts-Klusais; R. Eidemanis, 1895–1937; A. Ceplis, 1897–1937; A. Kadiķis-Groznijs, 1901–1934; K. Pelēkais, 1896–1938; and O. Rihters, 1898–1938). However, its true development began with the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia in 1940. The successful growth of literature was facilitated by the participation of such great masters as Upīts, Lācis, and Sudrabkalns in the building of the new life. Poetry developed during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45): V. Lukss (born 1905), A. Grigulis (born 1906), J. Vanags (born 1903), F. Rokpelnis (1909–69), and Rudzītis. Upīts’ play Spartacus (1943) was an important event. The awards of the first State Prizes of the USSR, which were won by Upīts for his novel The Green Earth (1945), Sudrabkalns for his collection of poems In a Fraternal Family (1947), Litis for his novels The Storm (1945–48) and To the New Shore (1950–51), and A. Sakse (born 1905) for the novel Up the Mountain (1948), attest to the growth of Soviet Latvian literature.

During the immediate postwar years the central problem of Soviet Latvian literature was the representation of the ideological and political growth of human beings and the affirmation of the Soviet reality, as exemplified in the poetry of Sudrabkalns, Lukss, Grots, Čaks, and Balodis; in the novels and short stories of J. Grants (1909–70), V. Bērce (1916–71), A. Brodele (born 1910), and J. Niedre (born 1909); and in the plays of Grigulis, Lācis, and E. Zālīte (1898–1955). The short stories of Ž. Grīva (born 1910) about the National-Revolutionary War (1936–39) in Spain form a thematic unity.

During the second half of the 1950’s Latvian literature, like all Soviet literature, began to strive for a more profound depiction of actual reality; for a more multifaceted portrayal of the inner world of people, with all their contradictions; and for a bolder presentation of the acute conflicts of present-day life. There was vigorous development of poetry of various styles. A wide range of creative art is exhibited in the work of the poet M. Kempe (born 1907), who has written in the area of philosophical and civic poetry, as well as love lyric (the collection The Eternity of an Instant, 1964).

The development of the Soviet man’s personality, the friendship of peoples, the interrelationship between a man’s destiny and that of a people, and the increase in civic responsibility are urgent problems that are stirring Soviet Latvian poetry. It is represented by B. Saulītis (1922–70), A. Vējāns (born 1927), A. Skalbe (born 1922), A. Elksne (born 1928), I. Auziņš (born 1937), M. Čaklais (born 1940), L. Vāczemnieks (born 1929), S. Kaldupe (born 1922), L. Brīdaka (born 1932), H. Heislers (born 1926), J. Plotnieks (born 1932), and V. Rūja (born 1928). The ring of party spirit, a feeling of great civic responsibility, and an original style mark the poetry of O. Vācietis (born 1933; No Time to Avoid the Rapids, 1960, and Breathing, 1966) and I. Ziedonis (born 1933; Motorcycle, 1965, and I Enter Into Myself, 1968). Since the late 1950’s there has been a greater emphasis on historical subject matter, associated primarily with the events of the Civil War (1918–20) and the sacrifices of the Red Latvian Rifles (Lukss, Saulītis, and others).

In prose the themes of modern times are being dealt with—no longer in monumental epics, as was the case in the immediate postwar years, but rather in their psychological and moral aspects. This can be seen in the novels of Z. Skujiņš (born 1926; Grandsons of Columbus, 1961, and Fornarina, 1964), I. Indrāne (born 1927; Unsteady Gangplank, 1963, and A Hatful of Chestnuts, 1966), A. Jansons (born 1915; Longing for Loneliness, 1965), E. Līvs (born 1924; The Velnakauls Twins, 1966), A. Bels (born 1938; The Investigator, 1967), V. Eglons (Lāms; born 1923), R. Ezera (born 1930), L. Pūrs (born 1922), and D. Zigmonte (born 1931). The biographical novel has been developed by J. Kalniņš (born 1922) and Niedre. A profound revelation of the social roots of the human psyche marks the short stories of E. Vilks (born 1923; “During the Days of Autumn,” 1955; “The Green Tree” 1960; and “The Savage” 1968). The struggle of the Latvian people in occupied Latvia during the war was shown by M. Birze (born 1921) in his novella Even Under the Ice the River Flows… (1957).

Soviet Latvian drama has been enriched by plays drawn from the life of young people by G. Priede (born 1928; The Summer of a Younger Brother, 1955; Even Though It Is Autumn, 1956; Normunds’ Girl, 1958; and Your Good Name; 1965). Among the best dramatic works of the 1950’s and 1960’s are plays by Grigulis (A Soldier’s Overcoat, 1955; You Don’t Hear the Bullet Meant for You, 1965), Grīva (A Crime in Granada, 1964), H. Gulbis (born 1926; Hush-a-Bye, Little Teddy Bear, 1968), and P. Petersons (born 1929; I Am Thirty Years Old, 1962). Works for children and young people have been written by Sakse, Grigulis, Lukss, Vanags, Vējāns, Vācietis, P. Sils (1908–53), J. Osmanis (born 1932), Z. Ērgle (born 1920), and D. Rinkule-Zemzare.

A great contribution to Latvian literary theory and criticism was made by the six-volume History of Latvian Literature (vols. 1–6, 1956–63), prepared by the A. Upīts Institute of Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR. Significant works on the problems of socialist realism and the literary heritage have been published by A. Upīts, K. Krauliņš (born 1904), Ē. Sokols (1901–65), Kalniņš, and V. Hausmanis (born 1931). Successful literary criticism has been written by V. Melnis (born 1910), V. Valeinis (born 1922), I. Bērsons (born 1931), and M. Kalve (born 1917).

The first works of Latvian literature that were translated into other languages appeared at the turn of the 19th century, but only at the beginning of the 20th century did translation work become regular. In 1916 the Collection of Latvian Literature was published under the editorship of M. Gorky and V. Briusov. Literary ties became particularly widely developed during the Soviet period. The collected works of L. N. Tolstoy, A. P. Chekhov, and M. Gorky, as well as selected works and individual books of A. S. Pushkin, I. S. Turgenev, F. M. Dostoevsky, and T. G. Shevchenko, were published in translation. Works by Soviet Russian writers and writers from the other fraternal republics (V. V. Mayakovsky, A. A. Fadeev, K. A. Fedin, M. A. Sholokhov, Kh. Abovian, Ia. Kupala, M. Auezov, Ch. Aitmatov, A. Korneichuk, and P. Tsvirka) were also published. Books by Latvian writers have been translated into many languages of the peoples of the USSR (among them Estonian, Lithuanian, Byelorussian, Turkmen, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Georgian, Kazakh, and Kirghiz), as well as foreign languages. The works of Upīts were published in Russian more than 70 times, with a total printing of more than 3 million copies; the works of Lācis, more than 90 times, with a printing of about 10 million. The works of Sakse, Grīva, Sudrabkalns, Ķempe, Grigulis, Skujiņš, Vācietis, and many others have also been published in Russian translation.

The Writers’ Union of the republic was established in 1940. The first congress of the Latvian writers was held June 14–15, 1941; the second, in 1947; the third, in 1954; the fourth, in 1958; the fifth, in 1965; and the sixth, in 1971.


Pisateli Sovetskoi Latvii. Riga, 1955.
Ocherk istorii latyshkoi sovetskoi literatury. Riga, 1957.
Upīts, A. Voprosy sotsialisticheskogo realizma ν literature.Riga, 1959.
Vāvere, V. A., and G. M. Matskov. Latyshsko-russkie literaturnye sviazi. Riga, 1965.
Istoriia latyshskoi literatury, vols. 1–2. Riga, 1971.
Upīts, A. Latviešu literatūra. Riga, 1951.
Upīts, A. Cel̮āuz sociālistisko reālismu. Riga, 1951.
Latviešu literatūras vesture, vols. 1–6. Riga, 1956–63.
Latviešu literatūras kritika, vols. 1–5. Riga, 1956–64.
Latviešu literatūras darbinieki. Riga, 1965.
Latviešu literatūra PSRS tautu saim ē . Riga, 1967.
Literārādzīve: 1917–1965. Riga, 1967.


Architecture. Fortified settlements of clan communities (pilskalns) grew up in Latvia during the first millennium B.C. Unfortified settlements, as well as fortress-refuges (not used as dwellings in time of peace) surrounded by ramparts with wattle or wooden palings above them, originated in the first millennium A.D. Oval and rectangular structures with a framework of wooden posts sunk into the ground have been found in such settlements.

With the establishment of feudal relations in the tenth to 13th centuries, some pilskalns were converted into estate-castles of the local nobility, girded with hewn wooden walls, forming a perimeter within which residential and utility buildings were arranged around a courtyard. Urban crafts and agricultural settlements composed of chimneyless peasant dwellings developed near the estate-castles.

Until the late 12th century, buildings were usually made of wood; after that time, Latvian architecture developed within the traditional path of Western European architecture. Construction of stone defensive and religious buildings was predominant from the late 12th to the 15th century. The oldest such buildings were made of limestone in the spirit of Romanesque architecture.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, various types of castles were built for the Crusaders: residential towers (Turaida Castle in Sigulda, early 13th century; the castle in Lielstraupe, mid-14th century), Konventshäuser (castles in Ventspils, completed in 1290, and in Riga, 1330–1515), and castles of a rambling type, whose fortifications followed the contours of the castle hill (the castle in Koknese, whose foundation was laid in the early 13th century). Such feudal castles usually became the centers of defense for the cities, which developed primarily from even older settlements (Riga and Cēsis). The trade and crafts quarters of these cities usually had low wooden buildings.

At first, hall churches (the church in Ikšķile, 1185–13th century) were predominant in religious architecture; in the 14th century a shift began to three-aisled churches with towers on the western facade (for example, St. John’s Church in Cēsis, 1283–87). The construction of the Domkirche in Riga (13th century) facilitated the spread in Latvia of transitional Romanesque and Gothic forms and structures (vaults, arches, and so on) executed in brick and natural stone; restrained figurative and ornamental decor was used.

During the 13th and 14th centuries a town hall and guild buildings were erected in Riga. A type of stone burghers’ residence also developed; it was built facing the street and closely abutting on the neighboring houses, with high, pitched roofs and a stepped gable (the kitchen, with an open fireplace, and the living quarters were located on the first floor; the cellar and the multistory garret had storage spaces for goods).

The triumph of the mature Gothic style, associated with a complete assimilation of Gothic structural elements as a means of constructing dynamic interior space, was brilliantly expressed in the construction of St. Peter’s Church in Riga. After its reconstruction in the 15th century, the original small early Gothic structure (13th century), built of stone, with its four cruciform supporting pillars separating the central nave from the lateral naves, was converted into an extremely large three-aisled church with a narrow transept and choir loft and ringed with six-sided chapels. It resembled cathedrals of the Rostock and Schwerin types. During the late Gothic period, with the widespread use of brick construction, the decor of the facade gable (with small niches and arches) and the roofs (the gable and star-shaped vaults of St. John’s Church in Riga, dating from the turn of the 16th century) became richer.

During the second half of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century Latvian architecture developed under the predominant influence of northern European (primarily Dutch) architecture: Gothic traditions were sometimes combined in a unique manner with the influence of late Renaissance architecture. Baroque forms, which came from Poland and the countries of northern Europe, were widespread during the second half of the 17th century. Baroque screen facades that were not part of the structure and volume of buildings appeared (for example, the facade of St. Peter’s Church in Riga, 1689–94; architect R. Bindenšū and others). The use of classical elements and baroque portals, with retention of the Gothic structure of the buildings, was characteristic of the residences of well-to-do Riga burghers (the Dannenstern house, 1694–98).

During the zenith of baroque (from the early 1700’s to the 1770’s) and the period of predominance of classicism (last quarter of the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century), Latvian architecture lost its medieval traits. Large-scale palace and park ensembles (palaces in Rundāle, 1736–40 and 1763–70, and in Jelgava, 1738–40 and 1763–72, both by the architect V. V. Rastrelli) and other secular buildings (the Academia Petrina in Jelgava, 1773–75, architect S. Jensens) were built. During the 18th century elements of rococo appeared in Latvian art (for example, the stucco decoration of the palace interiors at Rundāle; the altar and “ducal loge” in the Church of the Trinity in Liepāja).

“Burgher classicism,” which was characteristic of Riga architecture during the 1780’s and 1790’s, was manifested most clearly in the multistory houses built by the architect K. Hāberlands (symmetrical facades with a partially baroque decor; an efficient, frequently asymmetric design, providing for sequential distribution of household areas on the different floors; and living space for the master of the house, as well as apartments for rental). In the mid-18th century, churches deriving from baroque Italian models (the Ludvig Church in Krāslava, 1763) appeared in southeastern Latvia, along with the widely accepted type of Catholic church, with two high towers and rich, expressively worked facades (the church in Pasiene, 1761).

In the early 19th century, Latvian architecture developed under the influence of Russian classicism: “model” facade designs developed in St. Petersburg for residential buildings, and designs for government buildings, were used in Riga and Daugavpils; the forms of Russian classicism also entered estate architecture (the palace complexes in Kazdanga and Durbe, built by I. G. Ber-lics).

In the second half of the 19th century, during a period when eclectic architecture was widespread (for example, the buildings of J. F. A. Baumanis), a national school of contemporary architecture was taking shape; at the turn of the 20th century there was a national-romantic trend, whose members attempted to combine in their buildings reworked motifs of folk art and Jugendstil (residential buildings on Lenin Street in Riga, 1906–09, architects, E. Laube and A. Vanags). In the architecture of bourgeois Latvia, along with the “modernized classical” (for example, the assembly hall of the Latvian University in Riga, 1929–38, architect E. Ŝtālbergs), there was widespread stylization in a national-romantic vein (the church in Allaži, 1927); residential architecture experienced some influence of rationalism. Peasant farmsteads, which as early as the 16th and 17th centuries had begun to crowd out the communal system of settlement (except Latgale), until the 20th century retained the traditional type of building in the form of a low framework with a high shingled or straw-thatched roof. In Vidzeme during the 17th and 18th centuries there was a particular type of peasant dwelling called a rīga, which combined the functions of housing and utility (farm) structures. During the second half of the 19th century motifs of urban architecture entered rural architecture.

After the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia and the expulsion of the fascist occupation forces, the cities that had been devastated during the war were rebuilt, and general plans were drawn up for their further development. Planned construction was also begun on well-designed kolkhoz and sovkhoz settlements, as well as on new industrial centers.

During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s trends of eclectic ornamentation began to appear in Latvian architecture. Beginning in 1955, construction was carried out primarily according to republic-level standardized plans using brick or precast reinforced-concrete a high level of use of such precast reinforced-concrete structural components was attained in mass construction. New residential developments in the cities have been erected mainly on lands that were previously vacant. Buildings are grouped with maximum consideration for their ties to the natural surroundings, as well as to centers of service facilities (for example, the following residential areas in Riga: Agenskalns Pines, 1958–62, architect N. N. Rendels; and Great Jugla, 1962–63, architects O. Krauklis, D. Danneberga, and G. Melbergs).

During the 1960’s, public buildings were characterized by planning that was subordinate to utilitarian needs (the sanatorium in Jaunķemeri, 1967, architects A. Reinfelds and others) and an interior finish of restrained color, made of a composition of natural materials (the summer concert hall in Dzintari, 1959–60, architects M. Ģelzis and A. Vecsīlis; a school in Skulte, 1963, architect M. Staņa). Metal facings (the Memorial Museum Monument to the Latvian Red Rifles; architects D. Driba and G. Lūsis-Grīnbergs) and plastic facings (house on Lenin Street; architects M. Staņa, I. Jākobsons, and others; both in Riga, 1970) are sometimes used in finishing the facades.

The Riga Metro Station in Moscow (1958, architects V. Apsītis and others) and the Palace of the Virgin Lands Settlers (Palace of Culture) in Tselinograd (1960–63, architects O. Krauklis and others) were built according to the plans of Latvian architects. Standardized plans were also developed for general-education schools (1960’s, architects K. Plūksne and others); they have been used several times in cities of the RSFSR and other republics. Buildings designed by architects from Moscow, Leningrad, the Estonian SSR, and the Lithuanian SSR have been erected in Latvia; among them are a railroad station in Riga (1957–60, by the Leningrad architects V. I. Kuznetsov and V. P. Tsipulin) and the Institute of Electronics and Computer Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (1965–71, Moscow architects Iu. P. Platonov, V. R. Rannev, and others). The Architects’ Union of the Latvian SSR was founded in Riga in 1945.

Fine arts. Based on archaeological finds, the oldest relics of art on Latvian territory date from the fifth millennium B.C. (small, primitive depictions of animals made of bone on the hilts of daggers). Sculptured clay depictions of the human face, as well as figurines of humans and animals made of wood, bone, horn, and amber, are encountered beginning in the fourth and third millennia B.C.

During the period from the 13th to the mid-19th century, Latvian art developed on the basis of a close relationship between the national artistic culture and, for the most part, the art of Western Europe. Decorative stone sculpture began to appear in the 13th century (capitals, reliefs, and tombstones), which developed in the mainstream of Romanesque and, subsequently, Gothic art. During the period of transition from Gothic to the baroque (from the second half of the 16th to the early 17th century), mannerism became widespread in Latvia; it appeared mainly in decorative relief. In the baroque period (from the second half of the 17th century to the 18th century) a leading role in the works of native masters was played by wood sculpture (primarily figure and ornamental carving in church interiors), which was strongly influenced by folk art. The most important works (such as the altar of the Annas Church in Liepāja, 1697, which is complex in composition and full of baroque expression) were created in the wood sculpture studio in Ventspils, directed by the Dutch émigré Nicolas Soeffrens (Nikolajs Sēfrens) the Elder and then by his son, Nicolas Soeffrens the Younger, that existed from the second half of the 17th to the early 18th century. Wooden folk sculpture is represented by “crucifixions,” which were widespread in Latgale during the 17th century. At the beginning of the 19th century classicism asserted itself in Latvian art.

In the mid-19th century the artistic ties between Latvia and Russia were strengthened. Latvian artists studied mainly in St. Petersburg at the Academy of Arts and at Shtiglits’ school; in the second half of the 19th century the Latvian national school of art was formed, largely under the influence of Russian democratic culture and national liberation ideas. It was during this period that the first professional Latvian painters appeared; the careers of the genre painter K. Hūns and the landscape painter J. Feders, who was the first to turn his attention to the nature motifs of his native land, began in the early 1860’s. At the end of the 1880’s Latvian students attending the artistic educational institutions of St. Petersburg founded the Rūķis (Toiler) circle, which was headed by the artist A. E. Alksnis. The national democratic principles of the group were vividly manifested in the work of the genre and landscape painter J. Valters, the landscape painter V. Purvītis, and the genre painter and portraitist J. Rozentāls, whose realistic art to a large extent echoes the art of the peredvizhniki (the “wanderers,” a progressive art movement).

During the first two decades of the 20th century graphic arts began to develop extensively (the etchings of R. Zariņš, illustrations of E. Brencēns, and drawings of T. Ūders). During the Revolution of 1905–07 political caricature became widespread (for example, the illustrations in the journal Svari [Scale]). In the early part of their careers the first representatives of the Latvian sculptural school of the 20th century, T. Zaļkalns and G. Ŝķelters, were influenced by Russian realism of the second half of the 19th century and by A. Rodin. Postimpressionist trends (the compositions of J. Kazaks) became widespread in painting around 1910; at times they were intermingled with symbolism (the works of V. Matvejs). J. Kuga, the founder of Latvian theatrical set design, was working at that time. The revival of Latvian national decorative art, in contrast to the tasteless output of factories, was associated with the work of J. Madernieks.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution many Latvian artists who were working in Moscow and Petrograd took part in the building of Soviet culture (for example, the sculptors K. Zāle, T. Zaļkalns, and J. Tilbergs, who participated in the Leninist plan of monument propaganda [the design and selection of monuments for purposes of propaganda]; the poster artist A. Apsītis; the poster and set painter G. Klucis; and the painters V. Andersons, K. Veidemanis, and A. Drēviņš, [Drevin]).

The art of bourgeois Latvia during the 1920’s and 1930’s largely retained its realistic basis. Painting of that period was characterized by attention to problems of color as a means of creating a generalized, romantically decorated image of the world (the landscapes of V. Purvītis and K. Ubāns, the still lifes and landscapes of L. Svemps, the village scenes of K. Miesnieks and Ģ. Eliass, the genre canvases of J. Liepiņš, and the portraits of J. Tilbergs and V. Tone). There was development in theater set design (the works of L. Liberts and O. Skulme) and decorative and applied art (the works of A. Cīrulis).

An important place in Latvian art of the 1920’s and 1930’s was occupied by progressive, publicistic graphic art (the revolutionary posters of J. Liepiņš, the works in the semilegal and illegal press of E. Kālis, J. Aižens, and S. Haskins). The bold nationalistic figures created by T. Zaļkalns, K. Zāle, and K. Zemdega vividly revealed the originality of the Latvian plastic arts—the stately simplicity and material power of the inspired forms, as well as the use of the specific expressive possibilities of stone as a material for sculpture. Tombstone sculpture (K. Jansons and others) became widespread. The most significant works of the period included the complex of the Cemetery of Brotherhood in Riga (tufa, 1924–36; sculptor K. Zāle, architects A. Birzenieks and others), in which the principal emotional theme of the monument—mourning for the fallen soldiers—is revealed through a synthesis of monumental sculpture, architecture, and landscaping and park design; and the monument to J. Rainis in the Rainis Cemetery in Riga (granite, 1934, sculptor K. Zemdega, architect A. Ārends). Ceremonial works of a nationalist character were also created. A spirit of opposition to the traditional forms of art permeated the activity of the Group of Riga Artists (1919–39), which at times was formal-experimentational-ist in nature. Latvian artists were educated primarily at the Latvian Academy of Arts in Riga (established on the basis of the Higher Art Studio, founded in 1919).

The restoration of Soviet power in Latvia made possible an ideological rallying of creative forces and the turning of art to the tasks of ideological and aesthetic education of the people. During the postwar years Latvian artists, by relying on the democratic and realistic traditions of Latvian art, assimilated the experience of Soviet art, reflecting contemporary life mainly in portraits, topical paintings, and landscapes (the painting of E. Kalniņš, K. Melbārzdis, L. Svemps, O. Skulme, and J. Tilbergs). In sculpture a prominent place has been occupied by portrayals of contemporary people (portraits of leading workers and members of the creative intelligentsia by T. Zaļkalns and E. Melderis), as well as genre sculpture (the works of A. Briede and others).

During the second half of the 1940’s and the early 1950’s (as well as in the subsequent period) the graphic arts were marked by breadth of subject matter and diversity in the techniques of execution (woodcuts by P. Upītis and A. Junkers, etchings by

A. Apinis, and illustrations by V. Valdmanis and Ģ. Vilks). During the second half of the 1950’s and the 1960’s the tie between art and life was strengthened, and the images of contemporary life took on depth and an expressive quality of conviction; paintings by Latvian artists on contemporary and historical revolutionary subjects, mainly the Red Latvian Rifles, occupied a prominent place in Soviet art during that period (the works of B. Bērziņš, R. Valnere, I. Zariņš, E. Iltners, G. Mitrevics, V. Ozols, and D. Skulme).

Landscape painting has developed successfully (V. Kalnroze, L. Mūrnieks, R. Pinnis, and A. Skride), as have still life (N. Breikšs, U. Skulme, and L. Endzelīna), portraiture (U. Zemzaris and L. Kokle), and theatrical set design (Ģ. Vilks, G. Zemgals, A. Lapins, and O. Skulme). An important role in Latvian art is played by watercolors, particularly in landscapes (R. Bēms, N. Petraškevics, K. Sūniņš, and K. Fridrihsons).

Modern Latvian painting is characterized by diversity of compositional resolutions, lapidary style of the major forms, and an active quality (at times, even tension) of color and texture. Line engraving has been widespread since the late 1950’s. Its leading masters (G. Krollis and D. Rožkalns) frequently strive to create a symbolically generalized depiction of man and his labor. An important place in the graphic arts is occupied by portrait drawing (G. Vaska and F. Pauļuka). The sculptors of Latvia, working mainly in stone, have developed the traditions of monumentalized images, marked by an inner emotional tension, that are characteristic of 20th-century Latvian sculpture. Great success has been achieved by Latvian sculptors in monumental sculpture—for example, the memorial group for the victims of fascist terror in Salaspils (concrete, 1961–67: sculptors L. Bukovskii, J. Zariņš, and O. Skarainis; architects G. Asaris, O. N. Zakamennyi, O. Ostenbergs, and I. Strautmanis; Lenin Prize, 1970) and the monument to the Red Latvian Rifles in Riga (granite, 1970; sculptor V. Albergs and others). The portrait genre has also developed (L. Dāvidova-Medene and M. Lange).

Carving, turning, pyrography (furniture, sleighs, and household utensils), ceramics (earthenware, candlesticks, and toys), weaving, knitting, and metalworking are prevalent in folk decorative and applied art. Small-scale wooden sculpture is unique. An organic combination of the old folk traditions with contemporary tastes and needs, an energetic and flexible quality of forms, and restraint in decor characterize the professional decorative art of Soviet Latvia. A high degree of development has been attained by ceramics, including the major decorative forms (vases, decorative wall units and garden ceramics of stone, chamotte, and clay by G. G. Kruglov, M. Melnalksne, and S. Ozolina), as well as by artistic textiles (the tapestries of I. Bau-mane, E. Vīgnere, and R. Heimrāts and the pile carpets of V. Viduka and E. Ošele). Leather working, wood carving, amber working, and metal forging and embossing (chasing) are also widespread. Latvian artists have made many stained-glass windows, mosaics, and other artistic works in the cities of the RSFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, and other republics. Latvian artists have taken part in joint exhibitions in the Soviet Baltic republics (exhibitions of paintings in Vilnius and graphic arts in Tallinn, as well as sculpture, watercolors, and posters in Riga) and at all-Union exhibitions.

The Artists’ Union of the Latvian SSR was founded in Riga in 1951 (since 1940 it had existed as the Organizational Committee of the Union of Artists).


Vaga, V. J. Problemy prostranstvennoi formy ν srednevekovoi arkhitekture Latvii i Estonii. Tartu, 1960.
Vasil’ev, Iu. M. Klassitsizm ν arkhitekture Rigi. Riga, 1961.
Birzenieks, A. “Latviia” [architecture to the end of the 16th century]. In Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 4. Leningrad-Moscow, 1966.
Birzenieks, A. “Arkhitektura Latvii kontsa 16-pervoi pol. 19 v.” Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 7. Moscow, 1969.
Arkhitektura i gradostroitel’stvo ν Latviiskoi SSR, vols. 1–2. Riga, 1969–73. (In Russian and Latvian.)
Lāce, R. [et al.] “Iskusstvo Latviiskoi Sovetskoi Sotsialisticheskoi Re-spubliki.” In Istoriia iskusstva narodov SSSR, vol. 7. Moscow, 1972.
Vipers, B. Latvijas māksla baroka laikmetā. Riga, 1937. (English translation, Riga, 1939.)
Vipers, B. L’Art letton: Essai de synthèse historique. Riga, 1940.
Latviešu tēlotāja māksla [collection of articles, vols. 1–6]. Riga, 1957–70.
Latviešu padomju grafika [album, compiled and with text by M. Ivanovs]. Riga, 1960. (With a summary in Russian.)
Latviešu padomju tēlniecība [album, compiled by K. Zemdega, text by K. Baumanis and M. Zaurs]. Riga, 1960. (With a summary in Russian.)
Pujāts, J. Latviešu padomju lietišk ā mākala. Riga, 1960. (With a summary in Russian, English, and French.)
Latviešu padomju glezniecība [album, compiled and with text by A. Lapiņš]. Riga, 1961. (With a summary in Russian, English, and French.)
Latviešu padomju akvarelis [album, compiled and with text by R. Bēms]. Riga, 1961. (With a summary in Russian, English, and French.)
Latvijas PSR māksla [album, compiled and with an introduction by R. Lāce]. Leningrad [1972]. (In Latvian, Russian, and English.)
Iu. M. VASIL’EV (architecture), S. J. CIELAVA (art to the second half of the 19th century), and R. V. LACE (representative and decorative art of, the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century)

Musical creativity among the Latvian people is very original and diverse. Among the principal genres of folk music are numerous polyphonic cycles of work songs, seasonal ritual songs (such as the springtime rotāšanas, with the refrain “rota!,” and the very popular summer songs called Iīgo, with the refrain “Iī go!”), family ceremonial songs, lyrical and humorous songs of everyday life, and rounds and other dance songs. The old work songs, as well as orphans’ and satirical songs, often express a protest against feudal social relations. The folk song is sung in unison, with a melody that is “declamatory” (for example, in the ancient ritual songs) or of the “refrain” type (in lyrical songs). Folk bourdon polyphony is encountered in the ancient songs; songs of a later period are for two or three voices. Folk melodies are characterized by asymmetric meters, particularly five-beat and variable, and mixed measures. The metric structure of the Latvian folk-song (dainas) texts is based on trochees and dactyls. The melodies of the ancient folk songs are usually based on a narrow range of notes; later songs are based on diatonic natural scales (often major or natural minor, mixolydian mode). With regard to intonation and genres, Latvian folk songs are related to Russian, Byelorussian, and Ukrainian, as well as to Lithuanian and even, to some extent, Estonian folk songs. Among Latvian folk instruments are the kokle (related to the Karelo-Finnish kantele and the Lithuanian kankles), dīga (a type of monochord), and violin (bowed); the stabule, taure, ažrags, and dūda (wind); and the trideksnis and eglīte (percussion).

Beginning in the 13th century, after the invasion by the German crusaders, Latvia was penetrated by Catholic church music; beginning with the Reformation (16th century), by Protestant church music. The first printed scores of church vocal music with Latvian text were produced in the 16th century. During the feudal period professional music developed mainly in the cities, among the German feudal lords and burghers. Riga had a guild of urban musicians. In Mitava (present-day Jelgava) during the 17th and early 18th centuries the Duke of Courland’s court had an orchestra that occasionally performed operas and ballets.

The art of organ music began to flourish in Riga in the 18th century; the Riga Musical Society, which presented subscription symphony concerts, was founded in 1760. In 1782 a German opera and drama theater was opened (R. Wagner worked as a conductor there in 1837–39). Latvian professional music (mainly choral music) began to develop in the mid-19th century, under the influence of the “Young Latvia” movement; singing societies were established. In 1873, all-Latvian singing festivals became a tradition. The first professional choral songs were written by the composers J. Cimze, K. Baumanis, and E. Vīgners.

Since the 1880’s operas, singspiels, and musical comedies in Latvian have been presented on the stages of the national drama theaters in Riga. The Latvian operatic artists R. Bērziņš, M. Brehmane-Stengele, M. Vīgnere-Grinberga, Ā. Kaktiņš, and P. Saks became prominent in the early 20th century. The national Latvian Opera Theater was founded in 1913. Since the end of the 19th century Riga has continually been visited by Russian opera companies on tour. A large role in developing professional Latvian music was played by the conservatories of St. Petersburg and Moscow, where many Latvian composers and performers studied.

The founders of Latvian classical music (choral and solo songs, symphonic, vocal-instrumental, and chamber works) were A. Jurjāns and J. Vītols, who created a national school of composition. At the beginning of the 20th century the development of musical culture was determined to a large degree by Alfrēds Kalniņš, the creator of the national opera, as well as by E. Melngailis, a composer and folklorist who arranged folk songs for choral performance, and by E. Dārziņš, a master of choral and solo songs.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution and the establishment of Soviet power in Latvia (1919), the most important events of musical life were the formation of symphony orchestras drawn from Latvian rifle units and their concerts in Riga, Petrograd, Moscow, and other cities, as well as the transformation of the Latvian Opera Theater into the State Opera Theater of Soviet Latvia (1919). The first national operas—Baņuta by Alfrēds Kalniņš and Fire and the Night by Jānis Mediņš—were composed at that time. The Latvian Conservatory was founded in 1919.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, under the bourgeois regime in Latvia, the development of musical culture was complicated by the influence of bourgeois-nationalist ideology. The principal achievements of progressive Latvian music during the period resulted from the activity of the composers J. Vītols, E. Melngailis, Alfrēds Kalniņš, Jānis Mediņš, Jāzeps Mediņš, and J. Zālītis. Jānis Mediņš was one of the founders of the Latvian opera and the creator of the national ballet. Beginning in the 1920’s there was extensive development of the genres of choral and solo song, instrumental chamber music, and opera and ballet; arrangements of folk songs were made. A central place in the musical life of Riga was occupied by the opera theater, which continued its activity under the name Latvian National Opera (from late 1919 to 1940). The Latvian Radio Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1926. The composers J. Graubiņš, P. Līcīte, L. Garūta, J. Kalniņš, V. Dārziņš, J. Kepītis, A. Žilinskis, P. Barisons, J. Ivanovs, M. Zariņš, and A. Skulte, who belonged to the school of J. Vītols, began their careers.

The reestablishment of Soviet power in Latvia laid the foundation for a new phase in the development of Latvian musical culture. In 1940–41 the musical theaters, including the Latvian Theater of Opera and Ballet and the conservatory, were reorganized; a state philharmonic society was opened in 1941.

The fascist German occupation inflicted severe damage on Latvian musical culture. Many musicians succeeded in escaping from the occupation; they were evacuated into the country’s interior. In 1942 the State Artistic Ensemble of the Latvian SSR was created in the city of Ivanovo; it included the singers R. Bērziņš, E. Pakule, and A. Daškovs, along with a choir (under the direction of J. Ozoliņš) that became the basis of the State Choir of the Latvian SSR. The first Soviet Latvian mass songs, as well as the first Soviet Latvian opera—N. Grīnfelds’ Rūta (1943)—were composed at that time.

After the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) the creative art of many composers developed extensively, including J. Ivanov, M. Zariņš, A. Skulte, P. Barisons, L. Garūta, A. Žilinskis, and J. Ķepītis. The composers O. Barskov, E. Goldšteins, O. Grāvītis, R. Grīnblats, A. Grīnups, P. Dambis, R. Jermak, Aldonis Kalniņš, Imants Kalniņš, R. Kalsons, V. Kaminskis, R. Ore, and G. Ramans became prominent in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The symphonic genre has become dominant in the work of many composers. J. Ivanov, Ā. Skulte, L. Garūte, E. Goldsteins, R. Grīnblats, A. Grīnups, R. Jermak, Alfrēds Kalniņš, Aldonis Kalniņš, Imants Kalniņš, V. Kaminskis, J. Ķepītis, Jēkabs Mediņš, and Ģ. Ramans composed works in various genres of symphonic music and instrumental concerto. The art of organ music has developed; the organ is used in many works for voice and instruments. The genre of concerto for organ and chamber orchestra appeared. The composers of such works included M. Zariņš and R. Jermak. There was diverse development of instrumental chamber music in the creative work of O. Barskov, J. Graubiņš, P. Dambis, R. Jermak, J. Ivanov, R. Kalsons, J. Kepītis, J. Līcītis, Ā. Skulte, and V. Utkins.

Contemporary, historical, and folk subject matter, often based on plots drawn from Soviet Latvian or classical literature, directed the careers as operatic composers of M. Zariņš’ (To the New Shore, 1955; The Green Mill, 1958; and The Beggars’ Opera, 1964), F. Tomsone (Blow, Little Breeze!, 1 960), A. Žilinskis (The Golden Steed, 1965), O. Grāvītis (Audri ņ i, 1965, Through the Blizzards, 1967), and A. Skulte (Princess Gundega, 1971). Considerable success has been achieved in ballet (see below: Dance and ballet). The founding of an operetta theater in Riga (1945) facilitated the emergence of the genre (A. Žilinskis, N. Zolotonos, E. Īgenberga, G. Ordelovskis, and Ģ. Ramans).

The extensive development of mass choral culture has intensified composers’ interest in choral songs, cantatas, and oratorios. Among the composers of works in these genres are M. Zariņš, one of the founders of the Latvian oratorio (The Heroes of Valmiera, 1950; The Struggle Against the Devil’s Swamp, 1951; and Mahogany, 1965, dedicated to the memory of P. Lumumba), and P. Barisons, L. Garūta (the cantata He Is Flying!, dedicated to Iu. Gagarin, the oratorio The Living Flame, 1966); E. Goldsteins, O. Grāvītis, E. Graubiņš, P. Dambis (A Requiem Concerto, 1967), J. Ivanov, Aldonis Kalniņš, Alfrēds Kalniņš, Imants Kalniņš (The October Oratorio, 1967), V. Kaminskis, J. Kepītis, P. Līcīte, J. Līcītis, E. Melngailis, J. Ozoliņš, and A. Skulte. Many new works for solo voice, as well as song cycles, have been composed (A. Žilinskis, R. Kalsons, J. Kepītis, M. Zariņs, O. Grāvītis, P. Dambis, N. Grīnfelds, Aldonis Kalniņš, and P. Līcīte). R. Pauls, Ģ. Ramans, and Imants Kalniņš are composers of popular variety music.

Research studies on the history of Latvian music, as well as materials from Latvian musical folklore, are published regularly. The Music Criticism Section of the Composers’ Union of the Latvian SSR publishes the collection of essays Latvian Music (from 1958 through 1974 there have been 11 such collections, published in Latvian). Among the music scholars of Latvia are V. Bērziņa, V. Briede-Bulavinova, and L. Viduleja; Honored Art Worker of the Latvian SSR J. Vītoliņš; Honored Artists of the Latvian SSR O. Grāvītis, N. Grīnfelds, and L. Krasinska; and L. Kārkliņš, M. Goldins, A. Klotiņš, V. Muške, S. Stum-bre, A. Verners, and P. Pečerskis.

The most important performers in the Latvian SSR are as follows: among conductors, People’s Artist of the Latvian SSR L. Vīgners and People’s Artist of the RSFSR A. Jansons; among choral directors, People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR T. Kalniņš, Jēkabs Mediņš, J. Ozoliņš, D. Gailis, and G. Kokars and Honored Artists of the Latvian SSR J. Dūmiņš, I. Kokars, H. Mednis, E. Račevskis, and I. Cepītis; among singers, People’s Artists of the USSR ∊. Heine-Vāgnere and A. Frīnbergs, People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR R. Bērziņš, P. Grāvelis, A. Daškov, K. Zariņš, A. Ludina, E. Pakule, M. Fišers, and R. Frīnbergs, and Honored Artists of the Latvian SSR L. Ander-sone, L. Daine, J. Zābers, and R. Zelmane; among pianists, Honored Artists of the Latvian SSR V. Cīrule and I. Graubiņš and Honored Art Worker of the Latvian SSR V. Zosts; among violinists, V. Zariņš and J. Ŝvolkovskis; among cellists, People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR E. Berzinskis, E. Bertovskis, E.Teste-ļeca, and M. Villerušs; and among organists, People’s Artist of the Latvian SSR N. Vanadziņš and Honored Artist of the Latvian SSR P. Sīpolnieks.

Festivals of song are held periodically in Latvia; Song and Dance Festivals have been held since 1960. The 1973 Festival of Song was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the formation of the USSR and the 100th anniversary of the festivals of song (during this period 16 festivals took place, including seven during the Soviet period). A large role in developing national musical culture has been played by ten-day and one-day festivals of the musical art of the Latvian SSR, held regularly in various republics of the Soviet Union, as well as by tours of solo artists and musical groups from the Union republics.

Groups operating in the Latvian SSR as of 1973 included the Theater of Opera and Ballet, the Riga Operetta Theater (with Latvian and Russian troupes); the Philharmonic Society of the Latvian SSR, the Latvian Television and Radio Symphony Orchestra, the State Academic Choir of the Latvian SSR (founded 1942), the T. Kalniņš Latvian Television and Radio Choir (founded 1940), mixed choirs (the Juventus, Daile, and Ave Sol Honored Groups of the Latvian SSR), a women’s chorus (the Dzintars Honored Group of the Latvian SSR), the Dziedonis Men’s Choir, the chamber orchestra of the philharmonic society, the Daile Dance Ensemble of the Latvian SSR, the Riga Variety Orchestra, the Radio Variety Ensemble, and chamber ensembles. Among the republic’s institutions as of 1973 were the J. Vītols Latvian Conservatory, eight music schools (two in Riga and one each in Jelgava, Liepāja, Ventspils, Daugavpils, Cēsis, and Rēzekne), 47 children’s music schools, and the Composers’ Union (founded 1944).


Vītolinš, J., and N. Grīnfelds. Latviiskaia SSR. Moscow, 1957. (Muzy-kal’naia kul’tura soiuznykh respublik.)
Vītoliņš, J. Latyshskaia narodnaia pesnia. Moscow, 1969.
Ocherki muzykal’noi kul’tury Sovetskoi Latvii [collection of articles]. Leningrad, 1971.
Jurjāns, A. Latvju tautas mūzikas materiāli, vols. 1–6. Riga, 1894–1926.
Melngailis, E. Latviešu mūzikas folkloras materiāli, vols. 1–3. Riga, 1951–53.
Mediņš, K. Latviešu dziesmu svētki. Riga, 1955.
Vītoliņš, J. Latviešu tautas mūzika, vols. 1–4. Riga, 1958–73.
Vītoliņš, J. Tautas dziesma latviešu mūzika. Riga, 1970.
Padomju Latvijas mūzikas darbinieki, sastādījis O. Grāvītis. Riga, 1965.
Goldins, M. Latviešu tautas deju melodijas. Riga, 1967.
Goldins, M. Latviešu un cittautu mūzikas sakari. Riga, 1972.
Vītoliņš, J., and L. Krasinska. Latviešu mūzikas vesture, 1. Riga, 1972.
Viduleja, L. Latviešu padomju opera. Riga, 1973.
Kārkliņš, J. Kompozitory i muzykovedy Sovetskoi Latvii. Riga, 1974.
Briede-Bulavinova, V. Latviešu opera. Riga, 1975.

J. J. VĪTOLIņŜ [section updated]

In its initial stage of development (until the 13th century), the Latvian dance was closely linked with old superstitions and with the idea of protection from “evil spirits” (this is attested to by folk songs and descriptions of rituals). Dances, including round dances, were held on family holidays and during seasonal festivals. Traditional ritual dances by mummers (ķekatas, budēļi, and koļadi), accompanied by songs, marked the winter solstice, Shrovetide, and the summer solstice.

The round dance occupies an important place in folk dancing. Latvian dancing is characterized by smooth gliding, evenly paced running on the balls of the feet, triple and alternating steps, and small jumps. During the 19th century polka and gallop steps also came into use. The music is usually in 2/4 or 4/4 time; less frequently, in 3/8 or 5/8. Mass pair and group dances with a definite compositional outline are prevalent. The sudmaliņas, ačkups, tudaliņ-tagadiņ, and rucavietis are particularly popular. Latvian national dancing was first performed on the stage in 1888 in productions of A. Alunāns’ plays.

During the years of Soviet power a great deal of attention has been paid to the development of the Latvian dance: the Institute of Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR has a folklore section, which organizes expeditions to collect descriptions of old and contemporary dances; it also classifies and publishes them. From 1945 to 1963 the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Latvian SSR (since 1958, Sakta) operated under the jurisdiction of the State Philharmonic Society; the Daile Dance Ensemble of the Latvian SSR has been operating since 1968. New Latvian dances that have been created include the Audēju deja (Dance of the Weavers), Stūrū stūriem (Beloved Land, Native Land), “Today Is a Holiday, so Let’s Dance!,” and “Clip-Clop.”

The first professional ballet troupe originated in 1782 in Riga at the German theater (the dancers had been invited from abroad). The beginning of the Latvian ballet was associated with the organization by P. Jurjāns of the Latvian Opera Theater (1913), where the ballet troupe was directed by the choreographer M. Kauliņš. After World War I the troupe was revived by the choreographer V. Komisārs. Since 1919 dance scenes were presented in opera performances. Independent ballets were lacking in the theater’s repertoire because of insufficient professional training of the dancers.

The first ballet performances were staged by N. G. Sergeev (who had been director of the ballet troupe since 1922). In his ballet studio dancers mastered the fundamentals of the Russian school of classical dance. Sergeev produced La Fille mal gardée by P. Hertel (1922), The Magic Flute by R. Drigo, and Paquita by E. Deldevez (1923).

From 1925 to 1932 the troupe and studio (founded in 1925) were directed by A. A. Fedorova, who staged Swan Lake (1926), The Nutcracker (1928), and The Sleeping Beauty (1929) by P. I. Tchaikovsky, The Humpbacked Horse by C. Pugni, Firebird by I. F. Stravinsky, Le Pavillon d’Armide by N. N. Cherepnin (1930), Don Quixote by L. Minkus (1931), and Giselle by A. Adam (1932). M. M. Fokine, V. D. Tikhomirov, and A. I. Vil’zak also produced ballets there.

Beginning in 1932, dancers were trained at a ballet school attached to the theater. In 1934, O. Lēmanis became the head of the troupe. He produced the first national Latvian ballets: The Triumph of Love by Jānis Mediņš (1935), Ilga by J. Vitoliņš (1937), and Autumn and The Nightingale and the Rose by J. Kalniņš (1938). Lēmanis also staged Scaramouche by J. Sibelius, La Boutique fantasque by G. Rossini, and Bolero by M. Ravel (1936) and presented La Esmeralda by Pugni (1939), The Fountain of Bakhchisarai by B. V. Asaf’ev (1940), and Laurencia by A. A. Krein (1941). In 1943 the national ballet Stabu-rags (Staburadze) by Alfrēds Kalniņš was staged by E. Leshchevskii. There was also a ballet troupe and studio at the Liepāja Theater (1922–44), where the choreographers A. Stedelaube, A. Ekstona, and A. Kozlovskis worked.

The art of ballet, in cooperation with the choreographic art of the other Union republics, developed considerably after the liberation of Latvia from the German occupation forces. A ballet troupe worked at the Theater of Opera and Ballet in Riga, and the studio was restored in 1945; it became the basis for the Riga Choreographic School (founded in 1948). The first Soviet Latvian ballet, Laima by A. Liepiņš (about the joint struggle of the Russian and Latvian peoples against the German invaders during the 13th century), was staged in 1947. Folk choreography has also been used in national ballets (The Sakta of Freedom by Ā. Skulte, 1950 and 1955; based on motifs from J. Rainis’ play I Played and Danced).

Among the productions in recent decades have been Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella by S. S. Prokofiev (1953), Rigonda by R. Grīnblats (1959, based on motifs from the novel Lost Motherland by V. Lācis), Spartacus by A. I. Khachaturian (1960), Forest Song by M. A. Skorul’skii (1963), Peer Gynt (to the music of E. Grieg, 1966), and Notre Dame de Paris by Pugni and R. Drigo (1970). One-act ballets have included The Rainbow by R. Ore (1963) and The Lady and the Hooligan (1965) by D. D. Shostakovich (1965). Among Latvian national ballets are The Rose of Turaide by J. Kepītis (1966), Spring Thunderstorm by Ā. Skulte (1967), and The Triumph of Love by Jānis Mediņš (1970, new production).

The leading choreographers are People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR H. A. Tangijeva-Birzniece and A. Lembergs and Honored Art Workers of the Latvian SSR J. Čanga and I. Strode. Ballet soloists include People’s Artist of the USSR V. Vilciņa; People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR A. Priede and H. Riten-bergs; Honored Artists of the Latvian SSR A. Ozoliņš, I. Ābele, J. Grauds, J. Pankrate, I. Gintere, I. Karule, V. N. Shvetsova, M. G. Bilalova, A. Baumane, and V. Gelvāns; and A. Dragone, L. V. Tuisova, Z. Ersa, G. N. Gorbanev, J. Biviņš, and M. Cers.


Brants, G. Latviešu balets. Riga, 1937.
Siliņa, E. Latviešu deja. Riga, 1939.
Siliņa, E. “Daži baleta dramaturgijas jautajumi.” In the collection Teātris un dzīve. Riga, 1959. No. 3.
Siliņa, E. “Latviešu padomju baleta attīstības gaitas.” Teātris un dzīve. Riga, 1965. No. 9.
Sūna, H. Latviešu rotaļes un rota ļ dejas. Riga, 1966.


The ancient types of Latvian folk theater art, associated with labor and seasonal rituals and festivals, contained theatrical elements. The games of mummers and marriage rituals were particularly rich in such elements.

The first theatrical performance was given in Riga in 1205. The presentation, whose plot was drawn from the Bible, was arranged by German missionaries in the tradition of the medieval religious theater in order to propagate the Christian faith among the subjugated tribes. In subsequent centuries, when the German feudal lords were dominant, the theater was not accessible to the indigenous population of Latvia.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, presentations of school drama in Latin were given in Riga; during the 17th and 18th centuries troupes of itinerant foreign comedians, mainly Germans, gave performances. In 1760’s there was a permanent German troupe in Riga, and a building was constructed for it in 1782. Beginning in the early 19th century Jelgava and Liepāja also had German theaters. Russian theaters were established in Daugavpils in the 1850’s and in Riga in 1883. Individual performances in Latvian were presented during the first quarter of the 19th century in rural localities—for example, Schiller’s The Robbers was produced in Dikļi in about 1818 (the play was translated and staged by a serf).

The development of Latvian national theatrical art began in 1868, when the first performances in Latvian were given in Riga, and an amateur group was organized that was the basis for the first professional Latvian theater. It came to be called the Riga Latvian Theater and existed from 1870 to 1918. Its first head, the “father of the Latvian theater,” was A. Alunāns, an actor, director, and playwright. Many of the theater’s productions were filled with songs and dances; even operas were subsequently staged there.

During the 1890’s the Jaunā Strāva movement exercised a beneficial influence on the development of the Latvian theater. The theater became an arena for sharp struggle between progressive and reactionary forces. The repertoire was enriched by plays written by the Latvian playwrights R. Blaumanis and Aspazija, as well as by Shakespeare, Schiller, and Ibsen.

Theatrical groups whose goal was to serve the interests of the people grew up in the early 20th century. The close association between these groups and Russian theatrical art, with its democratic traditions, was of great importance.

An important event in theatrical life was the founding in 1902 of the progressive New Latvian Theater in Riga, which was closed in 1905 by the tsarist authorities. The flourishing of democratic tendencies was facilitated by the Revolution of 1905–07. Considerable success in developing Latvian progressive art was achieved in the New Riga Theater (1908–15), which became popular among democratic circles, particularly through its productions of plays by the revolutionary poet J. Rainis. Its productions of works by L. N. Tolstoy, M. Gorky, A. Upīts, Aspazija, R. Blaumanis, Ibsen, and G. Hauptmann also gained wide recognition. These democratic traditions, established at the beginning of the 20th century, to a considerable degree determined the subsequent development of Latvian theatrical art. On the eve of World War I (1914–18) the Latvian theater had attained such a high degree of professional maturity that the stage art occupied an important place in the social and cultural life of the Latvian people. E. Duburs, A. Mierlauks (who also worked as a director), D. Akmentiņa, B. Rūmniece, and J. Skaidrīte were outstanding early 20th-century actors.

The events of World War I (1914–18) and the mass evacuation interrupted the work of the theaters; the refugee actors opened Latvian theaters in Moscow and Petrograd. Amateur productions were staged in many Russian cities. Workers’ theaters, as well as theater groups attached to the Latvian rifle regiments, whose performances enjoyed great popularity, were established during the Great October Socialist Revolution. The formation of a Soviet Latvian theater began.

After the establishment of Soviet power in Latvia (1919) the state Workers’ Theater of Soviet Latvia was established in Riga under the direction of the writer A. Upīts. It presented plays by Upīts, L. Paegle, and M. Gorky. Theaters were organized in Valmiera, Smiltene, and Jelgava. In Moscow, performances were given by the Workers’ Theater under the direction of T. Amtmanis (1918–19). In 1919 the Skatuve Theater Studio was founded under the directorship of O. F. Glazunov, an actor from E. B. Vakhtangov’s studio. In 1932 the theater studio was reorganized as the Skatuve Latvian State Theater, which remained in existence until 1937.

In bourgeois Latvia during the 1920’s and 1930’s, progressive theatrical figures, relying on the democratic traditions of Latvian theatrical art, struggled against the reaction. However, the influence of bourgeois aesthetics and the prevalence of light, diverting plays in the repertoire did not allow the manifestation of great creative potential in the theaters. The Workers’ Theater of Soviet Latvia was made into the National Theater. From 1921 to 1925 it was headed by J. Rainis, but subsquently the directorship passed into the hands of bourgeois theatrical figures. The directors of the National Theater—A. Mierlauks, A. Amtmanis-Briedītis, E. Feldmanis, and J. Zariņš—strove to develop the realistic traditions of theatrical art; they staged plays by Soviet dramatists (N. F. Pogodin, V. P. Kataev, and V. M. Kirshon) and Latvian authors (J. Rainis, A. Upīts, A. Grigulis, J. Vanags, and F. Rokpelnis), as well as progressive foreign playwrights (E. Toller and F. Wolf). The Art Theater, headed by E. Smiļgis, was opened in Riga in 1920; it asserted art of clear form and profound thought. The activity of the Art Theater considerably enriched Latvian theatrical art. The prominent actors E. Viesture, G. Žibalts, T. Lācis, and T. Podnieks were among those working in these two foremost theaters of Latvia. The Workers’ Theater was established in Riga in 1926 but was closed in 1934 after the fascist coup. Somewhat earlier (in 1928), the authorities had closed down an amateur drama group (organized in 1921) associated with the left-wing trade unions of Riga, whose activity was revolutionary in direction.

The overthrow of the fascist government, the restoration of Soviet power, and the unification of Latvia with the USSR (1940) created favorable conditions for the development of the theater arts. Changes began to take place in the republic’s theatrical life, but they were interrupted by the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). After the liberation of Latvian territory from fascist German occupation, the progressive traditions of the Latvian theater were revived; the experience of the theaters of the fraternal republics, along with the method of socialist realism, was assimilated. Although preserving its national independence and originality, the Soviet Latvian theater merged into the general course of development of multinational Soviet art.

The best productions of the postwar years were Blow, Little Breeze! (1945) and Fire and the Night (1947) by J. Rainis, Egor Bulychov and the Others by M. Gorky (1946), Clay and Porcelain by A. Grigulis (1947), The Kremlin Chimes by N. F. Pogodin (1947), The Fisherman’s Son by V. Lācis (1949), Anna Karenina (based on L. N. Tolstoy’s novel; 1949), and The Green Earth by A. Upīts (1950). Among the outstanding productions staged from the 1950’s through the early 1970’s were I Played and Danced and Joseph and His Brothers by Rainis (both in 1956), Hamlet by Shakespeare (1959), The Velnakauls Twins (based on a work by E. Līvs; 1967), Motorcycle, based on a work by Ziedonis (1967), Hush-a-Bye, Little Teddy Bear by H. Gulbis (1968), Indrāni by R. Blaumanis (1970), the two-part work The Five-story City (1970) and The Wingless Birds (1971), after V. Lācis, and Wolves and Sheep by A. N. Ostrovskii (1973).

The leading figures in the Soviet Latvian theater are characterized by a constant striving for a profound and creative conception of modern times. Along with plays by contemporary Latvian authors, an important place in the repertoire is occupied by the works of V. V. Vishnevskii, A. N. Arbuzov, V. S. Rozov, M. F. Shatrov, A. E. Korneichuk, K. Krapiva, A. E. Makaenok, J. Smuul, A. M. Jakobson, A. E. Liives, J. Marcinkevičius, I. P. Drutse, and Ch. Aitmatov. Plays by dramatists from other socialist countries (B. Brecht, J. Iwaszkiewicz, J. Juran-dot, and M. Sebastian), as well as by other foreign playwrights (J. Anouilh, E. De Filippo, M. Frisch, and T. Williams), have also been produced.

The growth of stage culture and the enrichment of the repertoire have been facilitated by the appearance of Latvian theaters in Moscow, where they have given a good, creative account of themselves; by participation in reviews of theatrical art and dramaturgy of the Soviet peoples; by meetings of theatrical groups from the Baltic Region; and by exchanges of touring companies.

As of 1973, theaters operating in the republic were the A. Upīts Latvian Drama Theater, the J. Rainis Latvian Art Theater, the Russian Drama Theater (founded in 1883), the Lenin Komsomol Young People’s Theater (which has both Latvian and Russian troupes and was founded in 1941), and the Puppet Theater (founded in 1944) in Riga; a theater in Liepāja (founded in 1907); the L. Paegle Theater in Valmiera (founded in 1919); and the Drama Theater of the Twice Order of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet (Liepāja; founded 1930).

The Latvian Theatrical Society was organized in Riga in 1945. In 1948 the Latvian Theater Institute was established on the basis of the Drama Section of the School of Theater and Choreography. In 1951 it was attached to the Latvian Conservatory as the department of theater arts.

Great contributions to the development of the Soviet Latvian theater have been made by People’s Artists of the USSR A. Amtmans-Briedītis, J. Osis, E. Smiļgis, and J. I. Jurovskis; People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR E. Barūne, Ž. Katlaps, A. Klints, I. Mitrēvice, N. Mūrnieks, B. Rūmniece, M. Ŝmithene, L. Ŝpīlberga, and E. Ezeriņa; and artists Ģ. Vilks and A. Lapiņš. As of 1973 the leading theatrical figures included People’s Artists of the USSR V. Artmane, L. Bērziņš, L. Frei-mane, and A. Jaunušans; People’s Artists of the Latvian SSR V. Bajuna, L. Baumane, A. Videnieks, V. Ia. Glukhov, Z. Grīsle, L. Žvīgule, E. Zīle, M. Klētniece, J. Kubilis, D. Kuple, O. Lejaskalne, A. Liedskalniņa, V. Līne, P. Lūcis, A. A. Mikhailov, E. Pāvuls, E. Radziņa, K. Sebris, V. Singaevskaia, G. P. Timofeev, G. Cilinskis, and F. Ertnere; Honored Art Worker of the Latvian SSR A. Liniņš; Honored Artist of the Latvian SSR H. Liepiņš; the director T. Hercberga; and the artists A. Dzenis, G. Zemgal, M. F. Kitaev, Iu. N. Feoktistov, and P. K. Ŝēnhofs (all Honored Art Workers of the Latvian SSR).


Teatry Sovetskoi Latvii. Riga, 1955.
Kundziņš, K. Latyshskii teatr: Ocherk istorii. Moscow, 1963.
Kundziņš, K. Latviešu teātra repertuārs Iīdz 1940 gadam, 2nd ed. Riga, 1955.
Kundziņš, K. Latviešu teātra vēsture, vols. 1–2. Riga, 1968–72.
Teātris un dzīve. [Krājums, 1–16]. Riga, 1956–72.
Freimane, V. Liepājas teātra 50 gadi. Riga, 1958.
Jaunais Rīgas teātris. Riga, 1958.
Hausmanis, V. Rainis un teātris. Riga, 1965.
Grēviņš, M. Dailes teātris. Riga, 1971.
Skudra, A., and B. Ferbers. Teātris ar divsimt skatuvēm. Riga, 1972.
Circus. In 1874 a temporary circus building was constructed in Riga, where foreign troupes also worked. A permanent circus building has existed in Riga since 1889, and performances were given there by the first Latvian circus artists, members of an athletic circle founded by T. Meiers (whose pseudonym was Miforts Reiems); K. Pēersons’ troupe also became popular. P. Balodis (pseudonym, Sanseti), Bretini (R. Cinovskis), K. Pē tersons (pseudonym, Vatsons), E. Priede, and R. Cimze were touring abroad. The clowns Rolands (K. Plučs) and Koko (A. Lucs), who later enjoyed fame in Soviet circuses, became prominent in the early 20th century. The Latvian Circus Troupe was organized in 1955. Among its members in various years have been Antonio (A. Markūns), A. Berķe, A. Virkaus, S. Strode, K. Helmanis, and A. Ŝliskevičs.


Motion-picture production in Latvia began in 1910–11. At first newsreel, documentary, and travel films were made; journalistic shots of the city of Lepāja were taken by the cameraman E. K. Tisē (1913). The foundations of dramatic cinema were laid by the artistic film Where Is the Truth? (1913), with the participation of actors from the Ventspils Drama Theater. Films of the 1920’s, mainly commercial films, were made by both Latvian and Russian directors. In 1939 Latvian dramatic cinematography achieved its first important success: the film The Fisherman’s Son was made, based on the novel by V. Lācis.

After the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia (1940) the Riga Film Studio was founded. The first Soviet Latvian dramatic film was The Kaugurs Uprising (1941). The makers of film documentaries, under the direction of I. P. Kopalin from the Central Documentary Film Studio, made a full length documentary, To Greet the Sun (1941), about the new life of the Latvian people.

After the Great Patriotic War the development of Latvian national motion-picture art was facilitated by aid from the Leningrad and Moscow film-makers. A group of directors and cameramen—V. S. Mass, I. V. Mass, M. A. Shneiderov, G. V. Shuliatin, A. I. Evsikov, and K. B. Stankevich—remained in Riga to work. The regular release of film series began. In 1948 the Riga Feature Film Studio was merged with the Documentary Film Studio. A. G. Ivanov made the film Victorious Return (1948, based on V. Lācis’ play Victory), and J. Raizmans made the historical-biographical film Rainis (1949).

Motion pictures made during the 1950’s and 1960’s included Spring Frosts (1955, based on short stories by R. Blaumanis, directed by P. N. Armands and L. Leimanis) and Toward the New Shore (1955, directed by L. D. Lukov), The Fisherman’s Son (1957, directed by V. Krumiņš), and The Storm (On the Edge of the Storm, 1961, directed by V. Krumiņš and R. Kalniņš), based on novels by V. Lācis. The historical-revolutionary pictures Behind the Swanlike Flocks of Clouds (1957) and The Story of a Latvian Rifleman (1959, both directed by P. N. Armands), as well as the films Rita (1958, directed by A. Neret-niece), The Sword and the Rose (1960, directed by L. Leimanis), were made in the late 1950’s.

Since the 1960’s the films produced by the Riga Film Studio became more varied in their subject matter and genres. Screen versions have been made of the works of R. Blaumanis (Edgar and Christina, 1967, directed by L. Leimanis; In the Shadow of Death, 1971, directed by G. Piesis), A. Upīts (At the Rich Lady’s House, 1968, directed by L. Leimanis), R. and M. Kaudzītis (Times of the Surveyors, 1969, directed by V. Pūce), and P. Roz-ītis (Ceplīši, 1972, directed by R. Kalniņš). The dramatic film Nocturne about the antifascist war in Spain and based on a short story by Ž. Grīva was made in 1966 (directed by R. Goriaev). Events during the Great Patriotic War were the subjects of the films Triple Check (1969) and City Under the Lindens (1971), both directed by A. Brenčs. The director A. Leimanis made a two-part revolutionary-romantic film for young people—Wagtail’s Army (1964) and Wagtail’s Army in Battle Again (1968). Screen versions of operas were made by the director V. M. Gorikers; among them were Mozart and Salieri (1962, based on the opera by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov), Iolanthe (1963, based on the opera by P. I. Tchaikovsky), The Tsar’s Bride (1965, based on the opera by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov). Problems of contemporary life have been dealt with in Change After Change (1968) and Klāvs, Son of Mārti ņš (1971) by the director O. Dunkers. M. S. Bogin’s film The Two of Them (1965) was also made at the Riga Film Studio.

Important success was achieved during the 1960’s by Latvian documentary film-makers. The directors M. A. Shneiderov (Where Are You, My Comrades-in-arms?, 1961, and the trilogy We Went With Il’ich, 1967–69) and G. V. Shuliatin The Werewolves, 1963, and The Latvian Rifles, 1964) have developed cinematic journalism. The films of the director and cameraman U. Brauns (The Beginning, The Construction Job, and The Worker, 1961–63; 235,000,000, 1967) and the director A. Freimanis (The Shore, 1963; Report of the Year, 1965; The Kuldīga Frescoes, 1966; and The Catch, have revealed the world of present-day Soviet man in a poetic and profoundly national way.

Journalistic films have also been made by A. Brenčs (You and I, 1963, and Hands and Heart, 1965), I. Brils (To the Editor, 1968), H. Franks (The Fourth Chairman, 1968; Your Payday, 1971; and Traces of a Soul, 1973), I. Seļeckis (The Girls of Valmiera, 1971, and The Granary, 1973). A number of biographical documentary films have been made; among them are Greatness (1964, directed by I. Kraulītis), about J. Rainis; Pēteris Stučka (1965) and Jekabs Alksnis (1967), both directed by G. V. Shuliatin; and Andrejs Upīts (1968, directed by L. Gaigals). G. Piesis has made films that are devoted to present-day art (Sviatoslav Rikhter, 1966, and Youth and Music, 1967). The newsreels Padomju Latvija (Soviet Latvia), Sporta apskats (Sports Review), Pionieris (Pioneer), Karavīrs (Soldier), and Māksla (Art) are produced on a regular basis. Animated cartoons using puppets have been made since 1966 (direction and art work by A. Burov, A. Norņš, A. Nollendorfa, and others).

During the 1950’s and 1960’s great contributions to the development of Latvian cinematography were made by the directors P. N. Armands, U. Brauns, A. Freimanis, L. Leimanis, I. V. Mass, K. Piesis, M. A. Pjarns, M. A. Shneiderov, and G. V. Shuliatin; the actors V. Artmane, J. Grantiņš, V. Zandbergs, H. Liepiņš, J. Osis, E. Pāvuls, U. Pūcītis, E. Radziņa, D. Ritenberga, K. Sebris, and G. Cilinskis; the cameramen M. Zvirbulis, M. Rudzītis, and I. Seļeckis; and the composers M. Zariņš, J. Ivanovs, and Ā. Skulte. Many Latvian actors have made motion pictures at the studios of other Union republics—for example, V. Artmane appeared in Native Blood and E. Radziņa in Hamlet and King Lear at the Lenfilm Studio; D. Ritenberga received a prize at the Eighteenth International Film Festival in Venice for her performance in the leading role in Mal’va (Kiev Film Studio); and G. Cilinskis played a principal role in The Strong in Spirit (Sverdlovsk Studio).

The Latvian Cinematographic Workers’ Union was founded in 1962 (its organizational bureau was founded in 1958). As of 1972 there were 2,094 film projectors in Latvia.


Sosnovskii, I. Kinoiskusstvo Sovetskoi Latvii. Moscow, 1965.
Runa kinematogrāfisti [Rakstu krāj]. Riga, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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