The maelstrom of Soviet changes

The maelstrom of Soviet changes
Already before the annexation of Latvia into the USSR, but even more rapidly after, began the transformation of the government system to match that of the Soviet Union. The Parliament (Saeima) was renamed the Supreme Council, and a new Soviet style constitution was adopted. The nationalisation of land and other property was, in effect, confiscation without compensation.

To control the population and avoid resistance, the Home Guard organisation was disbanded; political supervisors were incorporated into the army, workers committees – in businesses. All public organisations were disallowed. The only political party permitted was the Latvian Communist Party, completely subservient to directions from Moscow.

Prior to the occupation there were about 1000 communists in Latvia and many left leaning people who were hopeful about the changes, hoping for democracy, greater social justice and a higher standard of living. Many simply put up with the changes, tried to adjust, or even to get some benefits. Some preferred the Soviet occupation, fearing the aggressive plans of the Germans. Some participated actively – tried to join the Communist party, wrote denunciations about others. Individuals had various justifications – naiveté, personal gain, careers. As the reality of Soviet life, so different from the propaganda, became apparent, many became disillusioned, even those who initially supported Communism.