By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is better recognized in Canada for his notorious position in prime Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he used to be appointed Director basic of monetary improvement in 1950 with the certainty that via his connections to Europe he may appeal to German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His effect 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 conflict criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.
This used to be no longer the 1st time his identify was once hooked up with debatable concerns. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than heritage. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the shelter of Canada, he used to be a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority reputable through the Soviet invasion, a intelligent collaborator lower than the Nazi career, then, a pal to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced folks, and an adviser to the govt. of Canada. during this first severe 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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There he claimed to have partici- 28 Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival pated in so-called student companies and to have been decorated for bravery. '''5 Osvald singled out Alfred's membership in the Latvian National Youth Organization (Latviesu Nacionala Jauniesu Savienlba), where he worked his way up from cub to leader, as another positive influence in his childhood. 'It was a great training in discipline and experience, not only to obey commands and rules, but also to be a leader and commander,' his brother Osvald recalled in 1985, and he added that Alfred had the unusual habit of seeking friends older than his age group.
It when the independence of Latvia ended. For the good of Latvia, however', I was able to continue living and working in foreign countries, even when I was on a lonely island (Newfoundland), sold, and buried, mainly because of the fact that something had happened and, a 'culprit' had to be found. I was all alone without friends and, without roots in this foreign land where I had done so much good. I saw that a human being is so little that he cannot die even if he wanted to. I have seen the sense of life collapsing.
54 Apart from creating an atmosphere in which 'no privately owned firm ever felt secure about its future,' 53 Ulmanis's restructuring, ironically, facilitated the Latvian economy's transition to the Soviet system in 1940. The challenges of 'reborn' Latvia enabled Alfred Valdmanis to rise to the top and to claim credit for some of the alleged progress. In 1949 he boasted to an American audience that by 1939 'education, all kinds of arts, sports - were on a very high level. With university graduates reaching three per thousand of the total population we ranked second to nobody in the world ...