And remembering elsewhere

Editorial Notebook

March 19, 2005|By Will Englund

RIGA, the capital of Latvia, is a charming old city on the Baltic. It is one of the few places where surviving veterans of both the Soviet and Nazi armies live side by side, and last week it was, again, the scene of a commemorative march by men who served in the Latvian SS Division. Here are a few figures to think about:

Number of years the SS men have marched: 15. Number of years Soviet veterans have protested: the same.

Number of times Latvia was invaded by the Soviet Union: 2. By Nazi Germany: 1.

Number of Latvians deported to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation (from 1940 to 1941): more than 21,000. Number of Latvians conscripted to work in Germany, 1941 to 1944: 16,000. Number of casualties in a Latvian infantry division in the Soviet army during the second invasion, in 1944: 26,000.

Percentage of Latvian Jews who died during the war: 90. Toll compiled by a single Latvian death squad: 30,000.

Number of Latvians deported in March 1949 to Siberia: 42,000. Number of days required to complete the deportation: 4.

Number of Jews, almost all of them postwar migrants from elsewhere in the Soviet Union, living in Latvia today: 11,000. Number of ethnic Russians in Latvia: 700,000. Number of ethnic Russians who were initially denied Latvian citizenship at independence in 1991: two-thirds.

Number of Latvians who believe Russia is a greater threat today than Germany: Unknown, but not hard to guess.

Anniversary of the Soviet "liberation" of Europe that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin will celebrate this spring: the 60th.

Number of Baltic nations that currently plan to attend: One. (It's Latvia.)

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