Samson, Vilis Petrovich
(Vilis Samsons). Born Dec. 3, 1920, in Liepna Volost (small rural district), now Alūksne Raion, Latvian SSR. Soviet state figure and a leader of the partisan movement in Latvia during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR (1968). Hero of the Soviet Union (July 28, 1945). Member of the CPSU since 1943.
The son of an artisan, Samson graduated from the Rēzekne Teachers’ Institute in 1940, from the Higher Party School under the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1946, and from the Academy of Social Sciences attached to the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1949. In 1940 and 1941 he worked in the public education system of the Latvian SSR.
Samson took part in battles near Moscow at the beginning of the war. In 1942 he was sent to the occupied Latvian SSR to organize the partisan movement. He commanded Latvian partisan detachments and became commander of the First Latvian Partisan Brigade in March 1944.
Samson returned to educational work in 1949 and was minister of education of the Latvian SSR from 1950 to 1960. In February 1960 he became chief scientific secretary of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Latvian SSR. He was editor in chief of the Malaia entsiklopediia Latviiskoi SSR (Small Encyclopedia of the Latvian SSR) from 1963 to 1972 and became chairman of the Scientific Council on Encyclopedias and Dictionaries of the Latvian SSR in 1969. He is the author of works on the history of the revolutionary and partisan movements in Latvia. Samson has been awarded the Order of Lenin, five other orders, and several medals.