Vilis Tenisovich Latsis

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Latsis, Vilis Tenisovich


(also Vilis Lācis). Born Apr. 29 (May 12), 1904, in the village of Rinuži, now in Riga; died Feb. 6, 1966, in Riga. Soviet Latvian writer and statesman; People’s Writer of the Latvian SSR (1947). Member of the CPSU from 1928. Son of a dock worker.

Latsis studied at the Barnaul Pedagogic Seminary of Altai Krai in 1917–18. In bourgeois Latvia he was a docker, fisherman, and stoker. His first work was published in 1921. He introduced into Latvian literature an original, strong-willed hero, a restless seeker of truth, bearer of the finest qualities of the working people, as represented in the trilogy The Wingless Birds (1931–33) and the novels The Fisherman’s Son (vols. 1–2, 1933–34), The Old Sailors’ Lair (1937), and Land and Sea (1938).

After the restoration of Soviet power in Latvia (1940), Latsis produced the epic novel The Storm (1945–48; State Prize of the USSR, 1949), an outstanding work of multinational Soviet literature, which depicts with epic sweep the life of the Latvian people from 1939 and their struggle for Soviet power under the leadership of the Communist Party. The road of the Latvian people to socialism is shown in the novel To the New Shore (1950–51; State Prize of the USSR, 1952). Latsis’ works have been translated into many languages.

Latsis became a member of the People’s Government and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Latvia in 1940. He was chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Latvian SSR from 1940 to 1946 and chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1946 to 1959. He was elected a candidate member of the CC CPSU at the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-second Congresses of the CPSU. He was a deputy at the second, third, fourth, and fifth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Latsis was awarded seven orders of Lenin, the Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and several medals.


Raksti, vols. 1–10. Riga, 1959–62.
Kopoti raksti, vol. 26, vols. 1–8—. Riga, 1970–73.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. sock, vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1954–55.
Sobr. sock, vols. 1–10. Moscow, 1959–60.


Kraulin’, K. Vilis Latsis. Moscow, 1958.
Sokolova, I., and A. Bocharov. Vilis Latsis. Moscow, 1959.
Tabun, B. “Vilis Latsis.” In Istoriia latyshskoi literatury, vol. 2. Riga, 1971.


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