About Tribute to Liberty and Its Definition of Victims of Communism

TML Weekly, March 18, 2017

Alide Forstmanis (nee Brodelis) is the Treasurer and former Chair of Tribute to Liberty (2008 to 2012), an organization established in 2008 to lobby the Canadian government to build a public "Memorial to the Victims of Communism" in the capital, Ottawa. She is one of nine members of the Board of Directors and one of two with identified positions, including Chair Ludwik Klimkowski. The listed address and contact information of Tribute to Liberty, according to the Canada Revenue Agency, matches that of Forstmanis and her personal e-mail address is listed as the charity contact e-mail. Alide Forstmanis' husband is Talivaldis (Talis) Forstmanis.

Forstmanis was the initiator in March 2008 of a petition to the Parliament of Canada to support the building of the "Memorial to the Victims of Communism," one of the first public calls for such an effort.[1] The thrust of the petition made clear that the purpose of the monument is not to commemorate victims, but make criminalization of communism official state policy and continue the cause of the Hitlerites to eradicate communism from the face of the earth. Forstmanis wrote, "the Cold War victory remains incomplete and we must do our best to make everyone recognize the true nature of this mad ideology. A free society must not allow itself to be content until everyone recognizes Communism is a road to terror and oppression. [...] Communism is not a thing of the past, but rages in many countries today, and poses a threat to the free world of the future."

Alide Forstmanis and her husband are from Sweden, born to Latvian parents. Both cite their family history as "victims of communism" in their support for the anti-communist monument project. In a parallel with the story of Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs who has not come clean about her grandfather's role as a Nazi collaborator, Alide's mother was a nurse in Nazi-occupied Latvia and later in Germany treating German soldiers, and Talis Forstmanis' father was an editor in a fascist publishing house and for a Nazi newspaper in occupied Latvia.

Alide Forstmanis noted her mother's wartime activity on the Tribute to Liberty website along with a donation to the project in the name of a "victim of communism," someone called Katie Subins. Forstmanis states, "During WWII Katie and my mother nursed wounded [Nazi TML Note] soldiers in Latvia and later in Germany."[2]

Talivaldis Forstmanis' father was Fricis Forstmanis, aka Fricis Dziesma.[3] During the Nazi occupation of Latvia from 1941 to 1944 Fricis was technical editor at an anti-Semitic, anti-communist publishing house called Zelta abele and like Freeland's grandfather Michael Chomiak, he also worked for a Nazi newspaper called Tevija (Fatherland).[4]

Tevija was the only daily newspaper published in Nazi-occupied Latvia from July 1, 1941 (the day Latvia was captured by fascists) to October 1944. Its first issue bore on its cover a photo of Adolf Hitler along with the announcement "Henceforth Latvia is free from communists and Jews."[6] The issue announced to Latvians the occupation of the capital, Riga with the words, "The glorious German army had the pleasure of liberating the old gray Riga from the yoke of the Bolsheviks. We promise that we will fight together with the Latvians until we drive the last Bolshevik from this land. God bless Latvia!"

Issues regularly featured prominent anti-Semitic, anti-Soviet and anti-communist propaganda and quotes from Hitler and Goebbels.[7] Like Kravivski Visti, which Chomiak edited, Tevija played a major role advertising for the recruitment of groups such as "Arajs Kommando," a volunteer unit of Latvian fascists responsible for pogroms against Jews, Roma, communists and others. Later, it promoted the creation of the Latvian divisions of the Waffen-SS Nazi paramilitary. These included the 15th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Latvian) created in 1943 and 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (2nd Latvian) in 1944, together making up the "Latvian Legion." The volunteer units that carried out atrocities were later integrated into the "Legion."[8]

A characteristic editorial in Tevija reads, "Finally, the time has come when almost all the nations of Europe learned to recognize their common enemy the Jew. Almost all the peoples of Europe have begun a war against this enemy, both on the battlefields and in internal construction."[9]

The publishing house, Zelta abele, was owned by Mikelis Goppers, who like Forstmanis fled to Sweden to escape justice following the defeat of the Nazis in Latvia. Goppers and Zelta abele published, in 1942, the infamous anti-Semitic fraud Latvia: Year of Horror (Baigais Gads) which, using photos of Nazi atrocities and fraudulent accounts, presents communism as a Jewish conspiracy to dispossess the Latvians. The book falsifies the history of Latvia and its membership in the Soviet Union on the eve of the war and presents the mass actions of Latvians as a conspiracy of Jews to "annihilate nothing less than the soul of the Latvian nation."

The myth of Baigais Gads created by the Nazis, continued to be repeated by exiled Nazi collaborators and their descendents after the war and then was given official status by the post-Soviet Latvian government. The blog Latvian History in a June 13, 2016 entry explains the origins of the myth:

"The needs for this myth can be explained for Nazi goals in Latvia on 1941-1942. Nazi political directives set by Adolf Hitler was [to] clear [the] Soviet Union [of] Jews and Bolsheviks. However, the Nazi policy was to create the image that the extermination was done by the locals as revenge against the Soviets. Germans would only instigate the actions with propaganda and assist the locals. [...] Ultimately the myth creates an idea of Latvian genocide, that must be avenged ... [The book Latvia: Year of Horror]contained selected or faked documents and images many of them highly graphic. [...] The book's narrative was that[the]Republic of Latvia because of its weakness and mistakes led itself to Soviet occupation that was carried by Jews according to their plan of world domination. All main repressions were carried out by Jewish Bolsheviks. Nazi Germany came as liberators and rescued Latvians from the danger of Jewish Bolshevism and now Latvians must do their part for creation of the New Europe. There was never talk of restoration of Latvian independence Latvian future only lies with Nazi Germany. [...] After the defeat of Nazi Germany the 'Horrible Year' lived on through Latvian exiles. It was mentioned in their publications and often became part of their identity."[5]In the 1990s, an English translation of the book was produced with a new, anonymous introduction written in Canada, approvingly citing Toronto Sun articles repeating Hitlerite lies about the "predominance of Jews among Bolshevik leaders."

The Year of Horror tract contains photo after photo with captions such as:

- "Prisoners, accompanied by largely Jewish crowd and the coerced crowd of demonstrators, enter the street. A prisoner addresses the crowd. His face is clearly contorted with hate and a desire to destroy."

- "Deported or escaped anti-government Bolsheviks returned from Sweden. It is not necessary to note that most of them were Jews."

- "The former Spanish Civil War Red Front volunteers are greeted by Jewish functionaries."

- "Most Jews were ecstatic. The [pro-Soviet] demonstrations on August 5 turned into Jewish national celebrations."

- "Jews request the annexation of Latvia to the Soviet Union."

- "The organizer of the Workers' Guard and People's Militia, a man with a lengthy criminal record, was a Jew Izak Bucinskis."

- "Jews used radio contacts with Moscow."

- "They lined up for kosher meat. They worshiped the cruel Jewish God who demands that animals be slaughtered slowly and tortured according to religious ritual."

Talis Forstmanis wrote a pro-Nazi rendering of his father's and Latvia's history in a December 28, 2015 letter to the National Post. In it, he presents the huge loss of life in Nazi-occupied Latvia, including of the vast majority of Latvian Jews, as the fault of the Communists. He said, "My father always carried a camera with him. His best man was tortured to death by the Communists. Many friends' families 'disappeared,' never to be seen again. Latvia lost around 25 per cent of its population during this time. Those who are still alive, and who have knowledge of these tragic events, are supporters of the Victims of Communism memorial to be built in Ottawa. It has become clear that many in Canada are ignorant of history."[10]

Canadians know well the history of the anti-fascist struggle and are proud of their contributions. Today, Talis Forstmanis is also the treasurer of the Canadian branch of Daugavas Vanagi, an organization founded by and for Latvian veterans of the Waffen-SS who fought for Nazi Germany during the Second World War and escaped to areas of Nazi Germany later controlled by the U.S. Among the founders of Daugavas Vanagi were Vilis Janums, a Regiment Commander in the 15th Waffen Grenadier division of the SS and Nazi Iron Cross recipient. Another founder, Andrejs Eglitis was a war correspondent in Berlin for Tevija. All served in one way or another in the Nazi Latvian Legion.[11]

Like Freeland's grandfather, the "victims of communism" identified by the founder of Tribute to Liberty were active participants in the Nazi-fascist enslavement of Europe and the holocaust. Both played key roles in the inhuman propaganda campaign that directly facilitated the genocide of European Jews. Both identified their cause as synonymous with the Hitlerite cause to wipe communism off the face of the earth, which Tribute to Liberty espouses today and seeks to make the official policy of Canada and a preoccupation of Canadians.

In this, they will never succeed. Canadians, who hold their anti-fascist contribution and their democratic sentiments dear, now have a clear example that the ruling elite would like to extinguish both and have the people accept a warmongering, anti-communist agenda that was rejected by humanity. To pass off fascists and Nazi collaborators as victims of communism is a charade that could not last. Canada should officially repudiate this fascist anti-communist monument project and all attempts to revive fascism today, in Ukraine, Latvia and Canada.


1. "Monument to the Victims of Communism in Ottawa," petitiononline.com , addressed to Parliament of Canada.

2. See  here 

3. "Fricis Forstmanis (Dziesma)

4. "Fricis Dziesma," Nekropole.

5. "The Myth of The Horrible Year," Maris Goldmanis, Latvian History, June 13, 2016.

6. A list of editors identifies Fricis Forstmanis as illustrations editor. Anti-Semitic, anti-Bolshevik cartoons were a regular feature of the newspaper. See "Anti-Semitic Nazi Propaganda in 'Tevija' Newspaper in July 1941: The Discourse of Latvian Participation," Didzis Berzin, Latvian National Archives, 2009.

7. See digitized newspaper archives via Latvian National Library here.

8. For more information about the murder of Jews in Nazi-occupied Latvia, see,"Mass murder of Jews in Latvia," Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team, as well as the book by Gertrude Schneider, Journey Into Terror: Story of the Riga Ghetto. Praeger, 2001.

9. Translated from Russian, found here

10. During the fascist occupation of Latvia from 1941 to 1945, around 400,000 Latvians were killed according to postwar Soviet statistics. This included 70,000 of Jewish faith at the hands of Nazi death squads and many Roma and those of Russian and other ethnic backgrounds. More than 150,000 soldiers died in the battles to liberate Latvia from Nazi rule including Latvian troops in the Red Army.

According to estimates of the OSS, U.S. precursor to the CIA in a confidential 1944 study, at the time of the Nazi invasion of Latvia in 1941, 75,000 Latvians sought refuge in the Soviet Union and from June 1941 to July 1944, 60,000 Latvians were taken as slave labourers to Germany, while a similar number of Latvian Jews and others were executed. The OSS repeated claims of the Latvian Red Cross made under Nazi occupation that from 1939 to 1941, 1,488 Latvians were executed and 34,340 relocated within the Soviet Union.11. For more information, see E. Avotins, J. Dzirkalis, V. Petersons, Daugavas vanagi: who are they? Latvian State Publishing House, 1963.

(This article was originally published with the title "Tribute to Liberty's Definition of Victims of Communism.")

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 19 - November 2023

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