Bear-Slayers - Latvian Myth, Memory, And The World Wars

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9781257756452: Bear-Slayers - Latvian Myth, Memory, And The World Wars

Between Russia and Germany lay contested lands. The domain of the German Lords and the western-most bastion of Imperial Russia, these lands have often been at the centre of European history, but their indigenous peoples have not. With the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, newly born nations sought to find a usable past to unite in common struggle. Latvia's national legend, the Bear-Slayer, was at the forefront in a battle to rescue its past from the hands of its oppressors. This book explores how the Bear-Slayer served as a template for the remembrance of two World Wars in Latvia, how the legend was used and abused by foreign occupiers, and how Latvians understand their own personal histories as an act of social memory. Also included: An interview with Latvian Waffen SS Legionnaire Janis Saulitis.

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