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Latvia Honors Ss Unit at Reburial of 53 Soldiers

The remains of 53 Latvian SS troops have been buried with full military honors near the capital of Riga.

Nearly 1,000 people, including veterans of the war-time Nazi-subordinated Latvian Legion attended the ceremony Sunday.

The Latvian government did not participate. But some members of Parliament were reported to have been among those people attending the tribute to members of the Latvian SS Legion, which was formed in 1943 under a directive from Adolf Hitler.

The participation of government and military officials in a march of Legion veterans in March caused an uproar in Russia and was condemned by Jewish officials in Israel and abroad.

Leaders of major Russian Jewish organizations said at the time that they feared Latvia was drifting toward fascism. Some historians believe that members of the Latvian SS Legion helped Germans in massacres of Jews.

While the Latvian Legion was formally a division of Nazi Germany’s elite Waffen SS, many Latvians view its veterans as patriots who fought against the Red Army, which occupied the Baltic country in 1940.

Many of the young Latvians who served in the unit were conscripted. The United States did not bar Latvian SS veterans from immigrating after World War II.

No military honors were provided for the reburial of the remains of 10 SS members earlier this year, in the wake of the controversy surrounding the March parade.

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