Latvian Central Council

During the Nazi occupation representatives of four most important political parties of the pre-war Latvia united for joint action aimed at the restoration of the independent and democratic Latvian state. To achieve this aim a democratic national resistance movement was founded on 13 August 1943 in Riga – the Central Council of Latvia (CC Latvia).

The Central Council of Latvia was chaired by Prof. Konstantīns Čakste, the son of Jānis Čakste, the first President of the independent Latvia. After K. Čakste was arrested in April 1944 the position of the organisation’s head was taken by the CC Latvia Deputy Chairman

Bruno Kalniņš, but after his detention in July 1944, general Verners Tepfers was elected the Chairman of the CC Latvia.

The Central Council of Latvia considered that its key task was presentation of genuine information to western countries on the activities and goals in Latvia both of the USSR Bolshevik and German Nazi occupation regimes, constantly reminding of the Latvian right to independence. The CC Latvia cooperated with Lithuanian and Estonian democratic national resistance movements. Under the administration of the Central Council of Latvia armed units started to emerge to fight against the occupation power (the so-called “kurelieši ”). The CC Latvia members organised and administered movement of several thousands of Latvian refugees to Sweden.

At the last CC Latvia meeting held in Latvia on 8 September 1944 in Riga Dr. Pauls Kalniņš as the Speaker of the Saeima (the Parliament) and the Acting President of the state signed the declaration of the restoration of sovereign power of the state “in the territory of the Latvian state that is free from foreign power”.

During the post-war years the Central Council of Latvia continued its political activities in Sweden and Germany, cooperating with Latvian ambassadors and Latvian refugee organisations.

During the period of refugee camps the Central Council of Latvia established in 1943 in Riga separated in two branches – for Sweden and Germany. Afterwards these parts acted individually to a great extent.

The Central Council of Latvia (the German branch) held its first meeting on 3 October 1945 in Lustenau (Austria). After the death of Dr. Pauls Kalniņš on 27 August 1945, the chairing of the CC Latvia was undertaken by Bishop Jāzeps Rancāns, the former Deputy Speaker of the Latvian Parliament. The CC Latvia comprised the officials of the Presidium of the Parliament and the largest parties of the pre-war Latvia, its headquarters were located in Esslingen.

The CC Latvia prepared several petitions and memorandums on the policies of the Bolshevik and Nazi occupation powers in Latvia and submitted them to the governments of the important western powers. Bishop J. Rancāns and other CC Latvia members repeatedly visited American and British occupation authorities in Germany to achieve improvement of the situation of former Latvian soldiers and refugees. Authorised by the CC Latvia, they arrived at international conferences where the arrangement of the post-war Europe was decided, to unofficially inform the representatives of western powers on issues related to the Latvian state and its citizens.

The CC Latvia established contacts with Lithuanian and Estonian political organisations to apply common efforts in the fight against the occupation regime in the Baltic States.

The Latvian Central Council intensively sought for ways to resume the activities of the Latvian public authorities stipulated by the Constitution (Satversme) in exile and to cooperate with the Latvian ambassadors and other refugee organisations. The CC Latvia used to stress the succession (continuity) of the Latvian democratic statehood in all of its activities.

Nevertheless, the CC Latvia did not achieve its ultimate goal of becoming a legally recognised government of Latvia (exile government) both internationally and in the Latvian exile community, administering embassies of Latvia and the exile community.