By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is better recognized in Canada for his notorious position in leading Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he was once appointed Director common of financial improvement in 1950 with the knowledge that via his connections to Europe he may well attract German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impact was once 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 used to be now not the 1st time his identify was once hooked up with debatable matters. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than heritage. 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 authentic throughout the Soviet invasion, a clever collaborator below 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 outcomes of the need to survive.
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Additional info for Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
As late as 1914 neither local and foreign politicians nor the Latvian people nor their intelligentsia had any dream of a sovereign state. Even by the beginning of 1917 cultural autonomy within the Russian Empire was the maximum goal conceivable. ' 17 16 Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival External forces - Germany's war aims, the Russian Revolution, and Allied diplomacy - put Latvian independence on the agenda. 18 Newborn Latvia, however, liked to portray independence as the fruit of a legendary struggle for national liberation.
87 As the head of the finance ministry's consulting division, or 'brain centre' as Zemgals terms it, Valdmanis was responsible for laying out the legal ramifications of the regime's economic policies and policy proposals. He had a hand in many if not all government contracts. 91 For more than ten years a hydroelectric deal had apparently 36 Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival eluded a committee of ten Latvian specialists negotiating with various countries. '12 In the ceremony launching the project, Valdmanis received appropriate credit and the king of Sweden bestowed on Valdmanis an honour called a commander of the Swedish Vasa Order III Rank.
According to Valters, national cooperation should replace the existing profit-oriented free enterprise economy, and national interests should take priority over 'narrow' class interests. Self-sufficiency was preferable to a free trade policy that meant large-scale flight of capital from Latvia. 31 The ethnic Latvian intelligentsia's notion of the national interest denied a separate economic role and identity to Latvia's Russian, Jewish, Wunderkind in Reborn Latvia, 1908-1938 19 German, and Polish groups, who together formed one-quarter of the population.
Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival by Gerhard P. Bassler