By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is better identified in Canada for his notorious function in leading Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he was once appointed Director normal of financial improvement in 1950 with the certainty that via his connections to Europe he might appeal to German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impression used to be delivered to an abrupt finish while, in 1954, he used to be charged with defrauding the govt. The media, latching directly to his murky earlier and his attainable association with warfare criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.
This used to be now not the 1st time his identify used to be hooked up with arguable concerns. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than historical past. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the refuge of Canada, he was once a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority respectable throughout the Soviet invasion, a intelligent collaborator below the Nazi profession, then, a pal to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced people, and an adviser to the govt. of Canada. during this first critical biography of Alfred Valdamis historian Gerhard Bassler casts the tale of this political manipulator and chameleon in new phrases: the customarily tragic effects of the desire to survive.
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Extra resources for Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
A turning point in Alfred's student days, according to his brother Osvald, was the election to the Saeima of Lutheran minister Dr Visvaldis Sanders on the ticket of the Kristiga apvienlba (Christian Union), a rightwing party that for the first time captured six of the hundred seats in the (fourth) Saeima (1931-4). Acclaimed to be the most popular preacher in Liepaja, Sanders used to have Ansis and Alfred play the organ for him. Sanders started grooming Alfred early for political life, and Alfred appeared very interested.
A national minority discriminated against in the Tsarist empire, virtually overnight (1918) they became the dominant nationality in the new multi-ethnic state called Latvia. They have lived in fear ever since - fear of threats to their national identity and fear of losing control over their destiny. 1S Today Latvia is known as one of the three Baltic countries whose peoples have acquired reputations not just as survivors, but as stubborn defenders of their national cultures and their right to self-determination.
Not participating in the social life of the city or in party politics, Valdmanis preferred to immerse himself in work and study. 78 According to the character portrait drawn by Zemgals (that is, probably Valdmanis himself), Valdmanis exhibited from early on the combined traits of a loner, a climber, and a workaholic. Irma, who remembers proofreading all his legal papers, considered her husband very intelligent but emphasized that he also worked very hard, a fact often overlooked by those who envied his career.
Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival by Gerhard P. Bassler