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Karlis Ulmanis as Prime Minister dissolved the Saeima (Parliament) and established executive non-parliamentary authoritarian rule. Several officers from the Army and units of the national guard (Latvian: Aizsargi) loyal to Ulmanis moved against key government offices, communications and transportation facilities. Many elected officials were illegally detained, as were any military officers that resisted the coup d’etat.

All political parties, including his own "Farmers' Union", were outlawed. Part of the constitution of the Latvian Republic and civil liberties were suspended. All newspapers owned by political parties or organisations were closed. Some 2,000 Social Democrats were initially detained by the authorities, including most of the Social Democratic members of the disbanded Saeima, as were members of various right-wing radical organisations, such as Pērkonkrusts. In all, 369 Social Democrats, 95 members of Pērkonkrusts, pro-Nazi activists from the Baltic German community, and a handful of politicians from other parties were interned in a prison camp established in the Karosta district of Liepāja. After several Social Democrats, such as Bruno Kalniņš, had been cleared of weapons charges by the courts, most of those imprisoned began to be released over time. Those convicted by the courts of treasonous acts, such as Gustavs Celmiņš, remained behind bars for the duration of their sentences, three years in the case of Celmiņš.

The incumbent President Alberts Kviesis served out the rest of his term until 1936, after which Ulmanis merged the office of President and Prime Minister, a move considered unconstitutional. In the absence of Parliament, laws continued to be promulgated by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Ulmanis was a popular leader, especially among the farmers, during whose leadership Latvia recorded major economic achievements. During Ulmanis' rule, education was strongly emphasized and literacy rates in Latvia reached high levels. Due to an application of the economics of comparative advantage, the United Kingdom and Germany became Latvia's major trade partners, while trade with the USSR was reduced. The economy, especially the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, were micromanaged to an extreme degree. Ulmanis nationalised many industries. State interference in the economy was second only to the Soviet Union. This resulted in rapid economic growth, during which Latvia attained a very high standard of living. At a time when most of the world's economy was suffering, Latvia could point to increases in both gross national product (GNP) and in exports of Latvian goods overseas.[citation needed] This, however, came at the cost of liberty and civil rights.

Ulmanis was a Latvian nationalist, who espoused the slogan "Latvia for Latvians" and held that every ethnic community in Latvia should develop its own authentic national culture, instead of assimilating.[vague] The policy of Ulmanis, even before his access to power, was openly directed toward eliminating the minority groups from economic life and of giving Latvians access to all positions in the national economy - sometimes referred to as Lettization. According to some estimates, about 90% of the banks and credit establishments in Latvia were in Latvian hands in 1939, as against 20% in 1933.[citation needed] Birznieks, the Minister of Agriculture, in a speech delivered in Ventspils on January 26, 1936, said:

Latvian people are the only masters of this country; Latvians will themselves promulgate the laws and judge for themselves what justice is.   —Birznieks, the Minister of Agriculture,

As the result, the economic share of minorities - Germans, Jews, Russians, Lithuanians - declined. However, Ulmanis didn't allow any physical violence or unlawful acts towards minorities and dealt harshly with right- and left- wing extremists, and with both Nazi and Communist sympathisers. Between 1920 and 1938, many Jews, escaping Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, found refuge in Latvia. In the 1934 photo of Ulmanis above, it can be seen that he is greeted with the Roman salute (outstretched arm with open palm and outstretched fingers), a salute also used by fascist parties throughout Europe as well as some Catholic organizations until the mid-1930s.

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