Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Latvian Units in World War II: An interview with Dr. Harry Merritt

Latvian Units in World War II: An interview with Dr. Harry Merritt

  • October 3, 2022

What happens when families and nations fight on both sides of a great power war? Dr. Harry Merritt is a visiting assistant professor in the department of history at Brown University. He shares his research on national and familial feelings among Latvian soldiers in World War II, who were conscripted into the Latvian Legion and Latvian Rifle Corp as the country was occupied by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Soldiers in both units spoke Latvian with one another, celebrated national holidays, sang traditional songs, and often thought of themselves and their comrades-in-arms as serving the Latvian national cause. Dr. Merritt explores the human stories underpinning this history and what it means for greater narratives in his chapter for the recently published Defining Latvia. 

This interview was recorded in March 2022. 

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Baltic Ways is a podcast brought to you by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, produced in partnership with the Baltic Initiative at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of AABS or FPRI.


Read more: 

Loader, M., Hearne, S., & Kott, M. (2022). Defining Latvia : Recent explorations in history, culture, and politics. Central European University Press.

Merritt, Harry C. (September 2022). “Latvia & World War II.” The New York Review of Books.

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