1940 - 1990
The change of the political regime which took place in Latvia during World War II in June 1940, in the form of Soviet occupation and the subsequent solidification of the communist totalitarian regime, was also reflected in the structure of burials at the Riga Brethren Cemetery. Burials at the Riga Cemetery burials were made according to the requirements of the ruling regime and the political state of affairs. The operation of the committee of the Brethren Cemetery was stopped; however, even after June 1940 burials were made both in the central burial field and in the section of the Old Latvian Riflemen, basically in keeping with the established rules of burial arrangements.
Chevaliers of the Lacplesis Military Order (‘CoLMO’) General Ludvigs Bolsteins, Lieutenant Janis Gailis, and Colonel Fricis Celmins were buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery after 17 June 1940. Unable to come to terms with the fact that Latvia had been occupied, they committed a suicide. The list of persons buried at that time also includes Lieutenant Colonel Eduards Ceplitis, CoLMO, General Augusts Ernests Misins, CoLMO, Lieutenant Colonel Voldemars Petersons, and Captain Voldemars Rauhmanis, CoLMO.
Colonel Peteris Vaivads, CoLMO, was buried on 4 January 1941.
After the attack of the German Army on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, and the defeat of the Red Army in the Baltic States, there came a change of occupying powers, and the Nazi totalitarian regime was introduced in Latvia. Showing tolerance to a certain degree, the Ostland Civilian Authority of the German Third Reich did not oppose to the continued burials in the central burial field and in the section of the Old Latvian Riflemen, allowing the Authority for the Territory of Latvia to decide which persons should be buried at the Cemetery.
The rules on arrangements for burials at the Riga Brethren Cemetery were supplemented in 1943. The symbols related to the statehood of the Republic of Latvia and the traditional symbols used on the tomb plates remained in use, although the shape and text of the monuments related to the Latvian Independence Fights was changed according to orders by the German Civil Administration whenever anything of an anti-German sentiment was spotted in the monuments. The Riga Brethren Cemetery was used as a venue for military and political ceremonies. The memorial day of Colonel Kalpaks (6 March), Lacplesis Day (11 November), the Date of Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia (18 November) were all commemorated in official ceremonies at the Riga Brethren Cemetery.
The so-called self-defence forces were formed, both spontaneously and in an organised way by the Germans, at the time when the Red Army left Riga and the territory of Latvia in fights. A part of the national partisans who had fallen in clashes with parts of the Red Army was buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery.
Overall, 15 national partisans were reburied at the Riga Brethren Cemetery from July 1941 till May 1942. Victims of the terror of the Communist regime were reburied at the Riga Brethren Cemetery in 1941 as well.
Sculptor Karlis Zale, one of the designers of the construction of the Riga Brethren Cemetery, five CoLMOs and four former officers of the Latvian Army, who had joined the Latvian Police Regiments for service and had participated in the battles at the Leningrad front and in clashes with local partisans who supported the Soviet power, were buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery on 24 February 1943.
Four CoLMOs, four former officers of the Latvian Army, who had joined or had been mobilised in the Latvian Police Regiments and the Latvian Legion, and six soldiers of the Latvian Police Regiment, were buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery in 1943. Peteris Apkalns, a Latvian rifleman, CoLMO and pastor of the Latvian Army, who had died in Germany in February 1942, was reburied at the Riga Brethren Cemetery on 17 October.
11 officers and soldiers of the Latvian Army who had joined or had been mobilized in the Latvian Police Regiments and the Latvian Legion were buried till 13 October in 1944. General Karlis Goppers, CoLMO, victim of the terror of the Communist regime, who had been shot dead in March 1941 and had been found in a mass burial site in the wood near Ulbroka in the spring of 1944, was also buried at the Cemetery in 1944. 39 Air Force assistants who had died during the air raid on 19 September were buried with military honours in the circumference of the terrace facing the Riflemen Gate at the Riga Brethren Cemetery on 22 September.
Another change of the totalitarian regimes in Latvia took place after the defeat and capitulation of the German Army in July 1944/May 1945. After the restoration of the Soviet regime, the management of the Riga Brethren Cemetery was transferred to the Riga City Municipal Services on 13 October 1944.
Three soldiers, members of the scout squadron of the 45th Individual Guard, Latvian Riflemen Division of the 43rd Guard of the Red Army, were buried in the section of the Old Latvian Riflemen during the period of time from 14 to 25 October in 1944
Oto Grosbarts, former general of the Latvian Army and retired Major-General of the Red Army, was buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery in June 1945.
No further burials were made in the central burial field of the Riga Brethren Cemetery until 1958, during which time individual burials were made in the section of the Old Latvian Riflemen.
According to Resolution No. 251 of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR of 19 May 1958, the Brethren Cemetery in Riga was deemed to be a monument of architecture and an obligation was laid upon the Committee for Construction and Architecture of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR to take it under state protection, and an obligation was laid on the Executive Committee of the Riga City to arrange for the remains of the heroic riflemen who had fallen for the freedom and independence of the socialist Homeland in the Great Patriotic War and had been buried elsewhere to be transferred to the Brethren Cemetery by 20 July 1958 and to be reburied there solemnly.
Mayor Leonids Lescinskis of the Red Army (who fell near Riga on 14 October 1944) was reburied near the image of Mother Latvia on 22 June 1958.
12 soldiers who had served and had been mobilised in 12 Latvian units of the Red Army and had fallen in the regions of Moscow and Leningrad, 9 partisans of World War II, and the head of the 15th Special Department of the Ref Army who had been shot dead for espionage during the Latvian Independence Fights were buried in a solemn ceremony in the central burial field of the Riga Brethren Cemetery on 22 July 1958, and this ceremony ended in lighting up the Holy Fire using a torch brought from the Mars Square in Leningrad.
The Regulation (Bylaw) of the Riga Brethren Cemetery was reviewed and approved in December 1958. According to the Regulation ‘(2) The Brethren Cemetery shall only be used for the burial of those Latvian riflemen who have fallen in fights against enemies of the Homeland or have died from battle wounds. (3) The most outstanding riflemen of the Latvian troops shall be buried at the Brethren Cemetery without any distinction as to their nationality. (4) Any burial at the Brethren Cemetery shall require a special approval by the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR issued in each individual case. The burial of any private persons at the Brethren Cemetery is prohibited.’ At that time the term riflemen was used to refer to both Latvian riflemen of World War I and soldiers of the Red Army who had fought in the 201st Latvian Riflemen Division formed on 3 July 1941, in the Latvian Riflemen Division of the 43rd Guard, and in the 130th Latvian Riflemen Corps later on.
According to the data for 1959, the Brethren Cemetery had become one of the 680 Cemeteries of the Red Army of Workers and Farmers made in Latvia.
Reburied and buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery in later years were: 4 partisans on 4 November 1959, two partisans and commander of partisans A. Dambergs on 10 May 1964.
65 known and 74 unknown soldiers of the Soviet Army (who had fallen and died from 1944 to 1947), including Senior Guard Lieutenant S. I. Sribniy (hero of the Soviet Union, partisan scout, partisan and partisan lieutenant), were reburied at the Riga Brethren Cemetery on 22 – 24 September 1964. Upon comparing the available lists of reburials and the data on the existing grave plates, one may conclude that the 58 known soldiers were buried in the central burial field and the unknown ones were buried in the section of the Old Latvian Riflemen (back in 1964) and their names were identified afterwards.
Partisan group Commander J. Melnalksnis (1912 – 1943) was reburied on 20 May 1965. An unknown soldier of the Soviet Army from Daugavmala in Riga (fell in 1941) was reburied in 1968. M. Kalnins (1896 – 1968), Colonel of the 308th Latvian Riflemen Division of the Soviet Army was reburied in the section of the Old Latvian Riflemen in December 1968 or early January 1969.
Aleksandrs Birzenieks, architect of the construction of the Riga Brethren Cem etery, was buried to the left of the main road in January 1980; his wife Alma Birzeniece, who died in March 1982, was buried next to him.
Burials of veterans of the Communist Party of Latvia and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and retired military personnel to the left of the main road of the Riga Brethren Cemetery were started in 1981. According to the data provided by the Riga Monument Agency, 473 male and female fighters for the Soviet power of different ranks have been buried at the Riga Brethren Cemetery till mid-1989 (the remains of 113 persons have been removed from the Riga Brethren Cemetery and reburied in places chosen by their relatives from 1994 till January 2008).
The remains of Fricis Rozins and Augusts Penness were transferred from the former Cemetery of Brasla and reburied by their tomb plates made in ca. 1936 – 1938 on 20 July 1988.
On 23 May 1989 R. Pauls, Chairman of the State Committee for Culture of the Latvian SSR asked comrade A. Rubiks, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Riga City People’s Deputy Council, to stop any burials in the territory of the ensemble of the Riga Brethren Cemetery. Obviously the request was granted in the light of the political situation at that time.
Reference: „Rīgas Brāļu kapi 1915 – 1936 – 2011” A. Āboltiņš „Apbedījumi Rīgas Brāļu kapos no 1940. līdz 1991.gadam” 43.- 56.lpp./ Riga Brethren Cemetery: 1915 – 1936 – 2011, Burials at the Riga Brethren Cemetery from 1940 till 1991, pp. 43 – 56.