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

By Gerhard P. Bassler

ISBN-10: 0802044131

ISBN-13: 9780802044136

Alfred Valdmanis is healthier recognized in Canada for his notorious function in ideal Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he was once appointed Director basic of monetary improvement in 1950 with the certainty that via his connections to Europe he may well appeal to German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impact used to be delivered to an abrupt finish whilst, in 1954, he used to be charged with defrauding the govt.. The media, latching directly to his murky earlier and his attainable association with battle criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.

This used to be now not the 1st time his identify was once attached with arguable 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 refuge of Canada, he used to be a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority respectable throughout the Soviet invasion, a wise collaborator less than the Nazi profession, 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 critical biography of Alfred Valdamis historian Gerhard Bassler casts the tale of this political manipulator and chameleon in new phrases: the customarily tragic results of the need to survive.

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Sample text

But the Baltic country in which Valdmanis started his political career attracted little attention in the West at the time. '14 With a small, rural-based population, it was considered prematurely born, politically unstable, belonging to the Russian sphere of influence, and diplomatically insignificant. Alfred Valdmanis claimed that Latvia's unique life force sustained his survival. But how could such a seemingly lacklustre country have aroused his passionate loyalty and devotion? The turbulent birth of independent Latvia in 1918 left an indelible mark on the Weltanschauung and values of Alfred Valdmanis's generation of Latvian youth.

The lack of democratic traditions aggravated the problems of Latvia's 1922 constitution, which vested all powers in the hands of a Saeima, a unicameral legislature based on proportional representation. Political life was at the mercy of a proliferation of political parties and changing coalition governments. Clearly, the prospects for unity, stability, and growth appeared anything but certain. Nonetheless, despite the severity of wartime destruction and the requirements of restructuring, independent Latvia enjoyed continuous growth with a high rate of employment and a steady rise in the volume of trade.

Many of these long-term lawyers looked askance at Valdmanis, the young, inexperienced upstart and outsider from Liepaja, since they themselves had been candidates for the position of legal consultant with the Ministry of Finance and enjoyed the backing of political parties. Valdmanis was informed that he would be refused admission to the bar in Riga as long as he was employed in the Ministry of Finance. 75 At the time of Valdmanis's assistantship, requests for legal opinions were flooding the ministry, but the minister of finance would not act without the advice of his legal department, whose chief was absent for extended periods.

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