Latvian President, Legislators Battle over Holocaust Remark

The battle between Latvia’s president and the country’s Parliament over participation in the Holocaust is showing no signs of slowing down.

On the eve of a scheduled visit to Israel next week, Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis has sent a letter to the Baltic nation’s Parliament urging lawmakers to admit that Latvians participated in the Holocaust.

“The historical truth is that there were Latvians who participated in the Holocaust, and there were Latvians who helped Jews and hid them in their houses,” Ulmanis said in his letter.

Ulmanis added that he plans to meet with Latvians who hid Jews during the Nazi occupation.

The letter came a day after the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel branch told a leading Latvian daily newspaper that Latvian society is reluctant to admit that “numerous Latvians” collaborated with the Nazis.

Last month, the Latvian Parliament called on Ulmanis to appear before them and explain his remarks about Latvian participation in the Holocaust, which he made during a trip to the United States in early January.

Latvian legislators made the request after receiving a copy of Ulmanis’ speech to the Anti-Defamation League in which he apologized for Latvian participation in the genocide of Jews during the Nazi occupation of the country from 1941 to 1944.

Ulmanis, who was in the United States to attend a U.S.-Baltic summit in Washington, made his remarks while in New York to accept the Distinguished Statesman Award from the ADL.

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