Pērkonkrusts (Latvian pronunciation: [ˈpæːr.kuɔn.krusts], "Thunder Cross"), was a Latvian ultra-nationalist, anti-German and antisemitic political party founded in 1933 by Gustavs Celmiņš, borrowing elements of German nationalism—but being unsympathetic to German National Socialism at the time—and Italian fascism. It was outlawed in 1934, its leadership arrested, and Celmiņš eventually exiled in 1937. Still-imprisoned members were persecuted under the first Soviet occupation; some collaborated with subsequently invading Nazi Germany forces in perpetrating the Holocaust. Pērkonkrusts continued to exist in some form until 1944, when Celmiņš, who had initially returned to work in the occupying German administration, was imprisoned.
Following the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991, a new radical nationalist movement, also called Pērkonkrusts, was formed in 1995. The organization espouses many of the same values as its predecessor. Members have participated in efforts to bomb the Victory Memorial to Soviet Army several times, leading to the arrest, trial and imprisonment of many of its members. Since around 2000, the group has become almost inactive.
|Dissolved||18 August 1941|
|Paramilitary wing||Gustava Celmiņa trieciennieki (GCT) (Greyshirts)|
Pērkonkrusts has been variously categorised by scholars as representing the radical right, "activist nationalism" (Latvian: aktīvais nacionālisms), or fascism, with the latter term being the most commonly encountered in the scholarly literature. Roger Griffin, a prominent fascist studies scholar, describes Pērkonkrusts as having been a "small but genuine fascist opposition" which "pursued a revolutionary solution to the [economic] crisis and which would turn Latvia into an authoritarian state based on a new élite with a new corporatist economy", with its politics defined by "integralist nationalism". Building on Griffin's definition of generic fascism, a categorisation of Pērkonkrusts as "anti-German national socialism" has also been proposed in an article from 2015.
Aside from the party's newspaper, Pērkonkrusts (1933–34), the main source of information on the political platform of Pērkonkrusts can be found in the 1933 brochure, Pērkonkrusts: What Is It? What Does It Want? How Does It Work? (Latvian: Kas ir? Ko grib? Kā darbojas? Pērkonkrusts). This publication not only outlined the movement's political programme, but also included the complete party statutes.
With its slogan "Latvia for Latvians– Work and bread for Latvians!" (Latvian: Latviju latviešiem– latviešiem darbu un maizi!), Pērkonkrusts wished to place all political and economic control of their country exclusively in the hands of ethnic Latvians. As a result, the party rejected the existing legislation that gave national minorities cultural autonomy. Pērkonkrusts aimed its propaganda against minorities who supposedly had taken over the Latvian economy (i.e. Baltic Germans, Jews) and the contemporary parliamentary politicians, whom it accused of corruption.
"Thunder Cross" is one of the names for the swastika in Latvian, which was used as a symbol of the organization.
According to Uldis Krēsliņš, although the party used both the swastika and the Roman salute, it was neither affiliated with, nor a copycat of German Nazism— as was the case with the United Latvian National Socialist Party (Latvian: Apvienotā Latvijas nacionālsocialistu partija) headed by Jānis Štelmachers.
The fascist group Ugunskrusts (Fire Cross), one of Latvian ethnic symbols as well as sign which is a mirrored image of swastika, was founded in Latvia in 1932 by Gustavs Celmiņš, but was soon outlawed by the government of Latvia. The former Ugunskrusts organisation reemerged immediately under the new name of Pērkonkrusts. By 1934, Pērkonkrusts is estimated to have had between 5,000 and 6,000 members, although the organization maintained that it had more.
Kārlis Ulmanis, leader of the conservative nationalist Peasants' Union Party and then Prime Minister of Latvia, proposed constitutional reforms in October 1933, which socialists feared would target the left more than the right. In November of the same year, seven communist deputies were arrested, while Pērkonkrusts officials were left alone. Because of political unrest, stemming partially from the growing power of the right, Ulmanis staged a bloodless coup d'état in May 1934, banning not only the Communist Party and Pērkonkrusts, but all parties and the Saeima (Parliament). Following the coup, Pērkonkrusts leader Celmiņš was imprisoned for three years and then banished from Latvia.
Although Pērkonkrusts did not exist officially after 1934, many former leaders and members acted with a degree of unity in subsequent years.
In the late 1930s, Celmiņš set up a 'foreign liaison office' of Pērkonkrusts in Helsinki, Finland. During his peripatetic exile, Celmiņš had established personal contacts with the representatives of other fascist groupings in Europe, most notably Romania's Corneliu Codreanu.
Not long after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in 1939, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union. Whereas the Soviet regime released the Communists imprisoned by Ulmanis with great ceremony, political prisoners from Pērkonkrusts were not freed. Instead, more members of Pērkonkrusts were arrested by the Soviet authorities during 1940–1941, some of them being deported to Siberia.
When the Germans invaded Latvia in late June 1941, Celmiņš, who had moved to Germany following Latvia's occupation in 1940, returned to Latvia as a Sonderführer in the service of the German Wehrmacht.
In early July, Pērkonkrusts was briefly permitted to operate openly again. Former Pērkonkrusts members were actively sought by the German authorities as volunteers for the Arajs Commando. According to research by historian Rudīte Vīksne, however, there were only a handful of members of Pērkonkrusts who played a role in the Holocaust in Latvia, their activities focused more on propaganda.
During the early phases of the Holocaust in Latvia Mārtiņš Vagulāns, whom historian Valdis Lumans describes as a member of Pērkonkrusts, led a killing squad attached to the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) in the town of Jelgava.:243 Historian Andrievs Ezergailis has countered that Vagulāns was not in fact a member of Pērkonkrusts, between whom and the Nazis existed "a wall of suspicion." Ezergailis has also argued, "I do not think that among the killers of the Jews there were more than ten Pērkonkrusts members, if that. They played a more significant role as purveyors of anti-Semitism in Nazi press."
The German authorities decisively banned the organization for good in August 1941. Some former Pērkonkrusts members collaborated with the Germans, while others maintained an anti-German sentiment and joined those groups subversively opposed to German occupation.
Celmiņš continued his outward collaboration with the Germans in the hopes that sizable Latvian military formations would be created. From February 1942, he headed the Committee for Organising Latvian Volunteers (Latvian: Latviešu brīvprātīgo organizācijas komiteja), the main function of which was the recruitment of Latvian men for the Latvian Auxiliary Police Battalions, known in German as Schutzmannschaften or simply Schuma. Aside from front-line combat duties, these battalions also participated in so-called anti-partisan operations in Latvia and Belarus that included the massacres of rural Jews and other civilians.
Pērkonkrusts members working within the SD apparatus in occupied Latvia would feed Celmiņš information, some of which he would include in his underground, anti-German publication Brīvā Latvija. This eventually led to Celmiņš and his associates being arrested, with Celmiņš ending up imprisoned in Flossenbürg concentration camp.
A radical group claiming Pērkonkrusts's name emerged in the 1990s as an organization whose stated goal was the overthrow of the current unsatisfactory government and the establishment of a "Latvian Latvia". In 1995, three former members of the group "Rība's Defenders" - Valdis Raups, Aivars Vīksniņš and then-68-year-old Vilis Liniņš - joined up with martial artist Juris Rečs to reconstitute Pērkonkrusts. "Rība's Defenders" was an unregistered splinter group from the self-proclaimed successor organization of the pre-WWII Aizsargi, founded by Jānis Rība. Members of the group were assigned code names, swore loyalty oaths, and senior members wore masks to initiate recruits. The organization was explicitly militaristic and considered itself a "Latvian fighting unit" pursuing a "holy liberation struggle."
The ideology of the group was primarily characterized by ethnic and racial nationalism, anti-semitism, anti-communism, and opposed to liberalism and free markets. Among the goals of Pērkonkrusts were a Latvia where the "Latvian would be the lord and master in his Fatherland... not in those of Latvian-speaking cosmopolitan bastards," and "racial purity of the Latvian people." Pērkonkrusts has opposed "Jew neo-Communists... half-Jews and their allies... enemy number one of the Latvian people."
Members of the reconstituted Pērkonkrusts tried three times to bomb the Victory Memorial to Soviet Army. In one of the most serious incidents on the night of 5 June 1997, two of the members were killed in the explosion. In 2000, most of the leaders of the current Pērkonkrusts were arrested and tried. The group ceased organised activities or was banned around 2006.
In recent years, Igors Šiškins, one of the previous leaders of the organization, has tried to re-activate Pērkonkrusts again. He has claimed to represent Pērkonkrusts at various events, such as the marking of Remembrance day of the Latvian legionnaires and Soviet Victory Day (9 May) in Riga. On 9 May 2007, Šiškins was arrested for wearing forbidden symbols in public. Šiškins was similarly detained for displaying forbidden symbols on 9 May 2009. In 2006 a similar organization, the Gustavs Celmiņš' Center (Gustava Celmiņa centrs), which used the same symbols as Pērkonkrusts and also claimed to promote Dievturība, was registered with Šiškins becoming one of its leaders until the organization was dissolved by the Riga Regional Court in 2014.
In 2016, blogger Jānis Polis reported that the owner of the former GCC website is linked to purported fake news websites.
The 1934 Latvian coup d'état, known in Latvia as the May 15 Coup or Ulmanis' Coup, was a self-coup by the veteran Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis against the parliamentary system in Latvia. His regime lasted until the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940.
On the night of May 15-16 Ulmanis, with the support of Minister of War Jānis Balodis and the paramilitary Aizsargi organization took control of the main state and party offices, proclaimed a State of War in Latvia, suspended the Constitution, dissolved all political parties and the Saeima (parliament).Ulmanis then established an executive non-parliamentary authoritarian regime in which he ruled as the Prime Minister. Laws continued to be promulgated by the acting government. The incumbent President of Latvia Alberts Kviesis, who was from Ulmanis Latvian Farmers' Union, accepted the coup and served out the rest of his term until 10 April 1936. Ulmanis then illegally assumed the office of State President and was officially known as Valsts un Ministru Prezidents (State and Minister-President), but usually in publications was called Tautas Vadonis (Nation's Leader) or simply Vadonis (Leader).
Ulmanis was unique among European dictators of the time, as he did not create one ruling party and did not introduce a new constitution. Instead, Ulmanis created state-controlled Chambers of Professions, based on the corporatist models of the authoritarian regimes of Konstantin Päts in Estonia and António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal. The regime was largely based on the authority and personality cults of Ulmanis and Balodis as founders of Latvia during the Latvian War of Independence who it was claimed had freed the nation from multi-party chaos.
The bloodless coup was carried out by the army and units of the national guard Aizsargi loyal to Ulmanis. They moved against key government offices, communications and transportation facilities. Many elected officials and politicians (almost exclusively from Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party, as well as figures from the extreme right and left) were detained, as were any military officers that resisted the coup. Some 2,000 Social Democrats were initially detained by the authorities, including most of the Social Democratic members of the disbanded Saeima, as were members of various right-wing radical organisations, such as Pērkonkrusts. In all, 369 Social Democrats, 95 members of Pērkonkrusts, pro-Nazi activists from the Baltic German community, and a handful of politicians from other parties were interned in a prison camp established in the Karosta district of Liepāja. After several Social Democrats, such as Bruno Kalniņš, had been cleared of weapons charges by the courts, most of those imprisoned began to be released over time, some deciding to go into exile. Those convicted by the courts of treasonous acts, such as the leader of Pērkonkrusts Gustavs Celmiņš, remained behind bars for the duration of their sentences, three years in the case of Celmiņš.Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890
The Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890 is a reference book by Philip Rees, on leading people in the various far right movements since 1890.
It contains entries for what the author regards as "the 500 major figures on the radical right, extreme right, and revolutionary right from 1890 to the present" (publisher's blurb).
It was published, as a 418-page hardcover, in New York by Simon & Schuster in 1990 (ISBN 0-13-089301-3).
In the introduction Rees discusses his criterion for inclusion in the book. He describes the extreme right as "opposed to parliamentary forms of democratic representation and hostile to pluralism."(xvii)
Among those it covers are Argentinian nationalists, Mexican sinarquistas, American nativist demagogues, Brazilian Integralists, German National Socialists, Portuguese National Syndicalists, Spanish Falangists, and Belgian Rexists.
A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - ZBurning of the Riga synagogues
The burning of the Riga synagogues occurred in 1941, during the first days of the World War II Nazi German occupation of the city of Riga, the capital and largest city in the country of Latvia. Many Jews confined in the synagogues died in the fires, and many other anti-Semitic measures were launched at the same time, ultimately followed by the murder of the vast majority of the Jews of Latvia.Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen (German: [ˈʔaɪnzatsˌɡʁʊpn̩], "task forces" or "deployment groups") were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting, during World War II (1939–45) in German-occupied Europe. The Einsatzgruppen were involved in the murder of much of the intelligentsia, including members of the priesthood, and cultural elite of Poland, and had an integral role in the implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" (Die Endlösung der Judenfrage) in territories conquered by Nazi Germany. Almost all of the people they killed were civilians, beginning with the intelligentsia and swiftly progressing to Soviet political commissars, Jews, and Romani people as well as actual or alleged partisans throughout Eastern Europe.
Under the direction of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and the supervision of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the Einsatzgruppen operated in territories occupied by the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) following the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The Einsatzgruppen worked hand-in-hand with the Order Police battalions on the Eastern Front to carry out operations ranging from the murder of a few people to operations which lasted over two or more days, such as the massacre at Babi Yar with 33,771 Jews killed in two days, and the Rumbula massacre (with about 25,000 killed in two days of shooting). As ordered by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the Wehrmacht cooperated with the Einsatzgruppen and provided logistical support for their operations. Historian Raul Hilberg estimates that between 1941 and 1945 the Einsatzgruppen and related auxiliary troops killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million of the 5.5 to 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
After the close of World War II, 24 senior leaders of the Einsatzgruppen were prosecuted in the Einsatzgruppen trial in 1947–48, charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Fourteen death sentences and two life sentences were handed out. Four additional Einsatzgruppe leaders were later tried and executed by other nations.Fascism in Europe
Fascism in Europe was composed of numerous ideologies that were present during the 20th century and they all developed their own differences with each other. Fascism was born in Italy, but subsequently several fascist movements emerged across Europe and they borrowed influences from the Italian Fascism. The origins of fascism in Europe began outside of Italy and can be observed in the combining of a traditional national unity and revolutionary anti-democratic rhetoric espoused by integral nationalist Charles Maurras and revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel in France. The first foundations of fascism can be seen in the Italian Regency of Carnaro, many of its politics and aesthetics were taken from Gabriele D'Annunzio's rule and they were subsequently used by Benito Mussolini and his Italian Fasci of Combat which he had founded as the Fasci of Revolutionary Action in 1914. Despite the fact that its members referred to themselves as "fascists", the ideology was based around national syndicalism. The ideology of fascism would not fully develop until 1921 when Mussolini transformed his movement into the National Fascist Party which then in 1923 incorporated the Italian Nationalist Association. The INA was a nationalist movement that established fascist tropes, colored shirt uniforms for example, and also received the support of important proto-fascists like D'Annunzio and nationalist intellectual Enrico Corradini.
The first declaration of the political stance of fascism was the Fascist Manifesto written by national syndicalist Alceste De Ambris and futurist poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published in 1919. Many of the contents of the manifesto such as centralization, the abolition of the senate, formation of national councils loyal to the state, expanded military and support for militias (Blackshirts for example) were adopted by Mussolini's regime whilst other calls such as universal suffrage and a peaceful foreign policy were abandoned. De Ambris would later become a prominent anti-fascist. In 1932 The Doctrine of Fascism was published written by Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile providing an outline of fascism that better represented Mussolini's regime.Gustavs Celmiņš
Gustavs Celmiņš (April 1, 1899 in Riga – April 10, 1968), was a Latvian politician, who was the founder of the Pērkonkrusts (Latvian pronunciation: [ˈpæːr.kuɔn.krusts], "Thunder Cross").Igors Šiškins
Igors Šiškins (born 9 June 1959 in Rēzekne) is a Latvian ultra-nationalist and the director of the "Gustavs Celmiņš Centre". During the 1990s Šiškins was a member of the Latvian ultra-nationalist movement Pērkonkrusts. He was one of those convicted for bombing the Victory Memorial to Soviet Army in June 1997.Jelgava massacres
The Jelgava massacres were the killing of the Jewish population of the city of Jelgava, Latvia that occurred in the second half of July or in early August 1941. The murders were carried out by German police units under the command of Alfred Becu, with a significant contribution by Latvian auxiliary police organized by Mārtiņš Vagulāns.Kārlis Ulmanis
Kārlis Augusts Vilhelms Ulmanis (September 4, 1877, in Bērze, Bērze Parish, Courland Governorate, Russian Empire – September 20, 1942, in Krasnovodsk prison, Soviet Union, now Türkmenbaşy, Turkmenistan) was one of the most prominent Latvian politicians of pre-World War II Latvia during the interwar period of independence from November 1918 to June 1940. He served four times as Prime Minister, the last time as the head of an authoritarian regime.Latvian Legion
The Latvian Legion (Latvian: Latviešu leģions) was a formation of the German Waffen-SS during World War II. Created in 1943, it consisted primarily of ethnic Latvian personnel. The legion consisted of two divisions of the Waffen-SS: the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian), and the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian). The 15th Division was administratively subordinated to the VI SS Corps, but operationally it was in reserve or at the disposal of the XXXXIII Army Corps, 16th Army, Army Group North. The 19th Division held out in the Courland Pocket until May 1945, the close of World War II, when it was among the last of Nazi Germany's forces to surrender.List of Latvians
This is a list of prominent Latvians with Wikipedia articles. It includes:
persons who were born in the historical territory of what is now Latvia, regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, or time period; and
persons of Latvian descent regardless of their place of birth or citizenship.List of fascist movements by country G–M
A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.Nationalist activism
For nationalist movements in general, see Nationalism. For other meanings of activism, see Activism.The Nationalist activism was an elitist political movement of the early 20th century in Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic countries. The Activists advocated in brief a close cooperation with Imperial Germany, and active support of Germany's military aims — primarily directed against Imperial Russia, Bolshevist Russia and the Soviet Union. The activism was revived in both Finland and Sweden in connection with the Winter War.
This activism was ideologically related, although distantly, to the thoughts that would result in Fascism in Italy. Activists were often ardent anti-Socialists and deeply suspicious of democracy and parliamentarism.
In Scandinavia, activist policies were judged unsuccessful when occasionally (half-ways) implemented, as in the years before the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway and in Sweden in the first two years of World War I; but in Finland the Activism was seen as successful in establishing the White Guard, the German-trained Jägers, the victory in the Finnish Civil War, and the thereby secured independence.
While in Finland the activism would continue in movements of the interbellum: the Academic Karelia Society, the Lapua movement and the Patriotic People's Movement; in the Baltic countries and Sweden it hardly survived outside some narrow circles of military officers, industrialists and aristocrats with political ambitions.
In Latvia Nationalist activism was represent by Pērkonkrusts.
In Estonia was Nationalistic Vaps Movement.Remembrance day of the Latvian legionnaires
Remembrance day of the Latvian legionnaires (Latvian: Leģionāru piemiņas diena), often known simply as Legionnaire Day (Leģionāru diena) or March 16 (16. marts) in Latvia, is a day on March 16, when soldiers of the Latvian Legion, part of the Waffen-SS, are commemorated. From 1998 until 2000, it was officially recognized as a "Remembrance Day for Latvian soldiers" by the Saeima.The day has been controversial as the Legion was formally a unit of Nazi Germany and the remembrance day has been seen by some as an attempt to glorify Nazism. Others point out that no one has ever been convicted of committing war crimes as a member of the Legion and hold that it was a purely military unit fighting against the Soviet Union that had occupied Latvia in 1940.Swastika
The swastika or sauwastika (as a character, 卐 or 卍, respectively) is a geometrical figure and an ancient religious icon in the cultures of Eurasia. It is used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions. In the Western world, it was a symbol of auspiciousness and good luck until the 1930s, when it became a feature of Nazi symbolism as an emblem of Aryan identity. As a result of World War II and the Holocaust, most people associate it with Nazism and antisemitism.The name swastika comes from Sanskrit (Devanagari: स्वस्तिक) meaning 'conducive to well being' or 'auspicious'. In Hinduism, the symbol with arms pointing clockwise (卐) is called swastika, symbolizing surya ('sun'), prosperity and good luck, while the counterclockwise symbol (卍) is called sauvastika, symbolizing night or tantric aspects of Kali. In Jainism, a swastika is the symbol for Suparshvanatha – the seventh of 24 Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers and saviours), while in Buddhism it symbolizes the auspicious footprints of the Buddha. In several major Indo-European religions, the swastika symbolizes lightning bolts, representing the thunder god and the king of the gods, such as Indra in Vedic Hinduism, Zeus in the ancient Greek religion, Jupiter in the ancient Roman religion, and Thor in the ancient Germanic religion.The swastika is an icon which is widely found in both human history and the modern world. In various forms, it is otherwise known (in various European languages) as the fylfot, gammadion, tetraskelion, or cross cramponnée (a term in Anglo-Norman heraldry); German: Hakenkreuz; French: croix gammée. In China it is named wàn 卐 / 卍 / 萬, meaning 'all things', pronounced manji in Japanese. A swastika generally takes the form of a cross, the arms of which are of equal length and perpendicular to the adjacent arms, each bent midway at a right angle. The symbol is found in the archeological remains of the Indus Valley Civilization and Mesopotamia, as well as in early Byzantine and Christian artwork.The swastika was adopted by several organizations in pre–World War I Europe, and later by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany before World War II. It was used by the Nazi Party to symbolize German nationalistic pride. To Jews and the enemies of Nazi Germany, it became a symbol of antisemitism and terror. In many Western countries, the swastika is viewed as a symbol of racial supremacism and intimidation because of its association with Nazism. Reverence for the swastika symbol in Asian cultures, in contrast to the West's stigmatization of the symbol, has led to misinterpretations and misunderstandings.The Holocaust in Latvia
The Holocaust in Latvia refers to the war crimes committed by Nazi Germany and collaborators victimizing Jews during the occupation of Latvia.Thunder Cross
Thunder Cross may refer to:
Thunder Cross (Latvian: pērkonkrusts), the swastika in Latvian contexts
Pērkonkrusts, a Latvian fascist organisation led by Gustavs Celmiņš, sometimes referred to in English as the Thunder Cross
Thunder Cross (arcade game), a 1988 scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game
Rhapsody of Fire, formerly Thundercross, an Italian power metal bandVictory Memorial to Soviet Army
The Victory Memorial to Soviet Army (Latvian: Uzvaras piemineklis – 'Victory Memorial'; Russian: Памятник освободителям Риги – 'Memorial to the Liberators of Riga'), initially "Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders" (Latvian: Padomju Latvijas un Rīgas atbrīvotājiem no vācu fašistiskajiem iebrucējiem; Russian: Памятник освободителям Советской Латвии и Риги от немецко-фашистских захватчиков) is a memorial complex in Victory Park, Riga, Latvia erected in 1985 to commemorate the Soviet Army's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. It was designed by sculptors Lev Bokovsky and Aivars Gulbis. The complex consists of a 79-meter tall obelisk and two groups of sculptures – Mother Motherland and a band of three soldiers.Viktors Arājs
Viktors Arājs (13 January 1910 – 13 January 1988) was a Latvian/Baltic German collaborator and Nazi SS officer, who took part in the Holocaust during the German occupation of Latvia and Belarus (then called White Russia or White Ruthenia) as the leader of the Arajs Kommando. The Arajs Kommando murdered about half of Latvia's Jews.