Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival by Gerhard P. Bassler

By Gerhard P. Bassler

Alfred Valdmanis is healthier recognized in Canada for his notorious function in premiere Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he used to be appointed Director common of financial improvement in 1950 with the knowledge that via his connections to Europe he may possibly attract German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impression used to be dropped at an abrupt finish while, in 1954, he was once charged with defrauding the govt.. The media, latching directly to his murky prior and his attainable association with battle criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.

This was once no longer the 1st time his identify used to be attached with arguable matters. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than background. 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 respectable in the course of the Soviet invasion, a clever collaborator less than the Nazi profession, then, a pal to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced people, and an adviser to the govt. of Canada. during this first critical biography of Alfred Valdamis historian Gerhard Bassler casts the tale of this political manipulator and chameleon in new phrases: the usually tragic effects of the need to survive.

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Both the departments of Economics and of Trade and Industry were within the Ministry of Finance. According to his government record of employment, Valdmanis's professional legal career began inauspiciously in August 1932 when the director of the Department of Economics took him on as a temporary replacement for an assistant legal counsel, initially for a one-month trial period. But within the month Valdmanis was given a contractual appointment with the department's legal counselling division.

Its young, well-educated class did not want to lag behind their west FAiropean role models in elegance, appearance, and such urban customs as entertainment, sports, and weekend trips. ' 57 The pre-Second World War generation of Latvians, who later endured the trauma of mass deportation, war, Soviet rule, and foreign exile, developed a deep attachment to this fairly prosperous and modern state with its advanced education, exciting cultural life, and relative personal freedom. Most of it they associated with the name and person of Karlis Ulmanis.

25 In addition, the perceived need to protect Latvia's economy from foreign control officially justified the continued maintenance of state-run and stateowned enterprises. 5 per cent. 26 The government, which had owned nothing in 1919, by 1930 had acquired one-third of the national wealth. One result of this policy was the creation of obstacles to the development and viability of a flourishing private sector For example, most Latvian industrial firms were small: in 1935 the average firm employed seventeen persons.

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