Union of Writers of Soviet Latvia collection
The Union of Writers of Soviet Latvia was an important cultural organization, which was created in 1940 as a subsidiary of the Writers' Union of the Soviet Union, and whose task was to control the literary world and keep it within the confines of Socialist Realism. From the beginning of the 1960s, with the coming of a new generation of writers, the Union’s defense of the national culture and gaining more creative freedom became central issues. These tasks were implemented by combining open demands with accommodating the system and exploiting its weak spots. The collection reflects the political and creative struggle with the authorities and within the Union.
Rīga Bezdelīgu iela 1, Latvia LV-1048
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Name of collection
- Latvian Writers' Union
Provenance and cultural activities
The Latvian Soviet Writers' Union was an influential cultural organization. It was created in October 1940 as the Latvian SSR Writers' Union, when the first 13 members of the organization signed a declaration on its foundation. Its statutes were copied from the constitution of the Soviet Writers’ Union. At its first conference on 14-16 June 1941, which was renamed a congress, the name was changed to the Latvian Soviet Writers' Union, and the organization functioned under this title until 24-25 May 1990, when the name Latvian Writers' Union was assumed at its tenth congress.
As the Soviet-German war started a week after the congress, writers who supported Soviet power fled to Russia. Some of the initial members of the Union who remained in Latvia, in 1944 escaped to the West. In 1944, the Soviets returned to Latvia, and the Union was reestablished. Writers who had spent the war in Russia or had fought in the Soviet army made up the leadership of the organization until the mid-1960s.
In the 1950s, a new generation of talented poets, novelists and playwrights entered literary life, and appealed for greater creative freedom and respect for the pre-Soviet Latvian cultural heritage, as well as a widening of intellectual horizons by learning about current world literature. In December 1965, at the 5th Congress of the Union, they managed to oust the five most notorious conservatives from the Union's Executive Board, and to secure a stronger position in the leadership for the younger generation. The Latvian Communist Party Central Committee had no choice: it had to approve the results of the congress, and to put up with the demands voiced about the shackles of censorship, etc. In the next two decades, the Writers' Union developed as an organisation that was respected by ordinary people and the authorities. In some cases, it managed to defend individual members or joint interests. As a rule, it did not directly oppose the authorities, and tactics of accommodation were usually applied.
With the start of perestroika, the Writers' Union became a force for change, along with other creative unions. The plenary meeting of the creative unions on 1-2 June 1988 was the first event at which the authorities came under massive criticism from organizations that were considered to be loyal to Soviet power. At this event, it was openly claimed that Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, the first time the claim came from an official tribune. After the plenary meeting, the Writers' Union had an outstanding role in the formation of the Popular Front in Latvia, the organization which played the main role in the struggle for the reestablishment of independent Latvia.
The collection of documents of the Latvian Soviet Writers' Union started forming with the establishment of the Union in 1940-1941, but the systematic building up of the collection started in 1944. Most of the documents are from the 1960s and 1980s.
Description of content
The collection consists of records and transcripts of congresses, plenary meetings, minutes of meetings of the Executive Board and the Secretariat, as well as minutes of meetings of sections (poetry, prose, drama, critics, translators, Russian literature) of the Union, records of meetings of the Association of Young Writers, the opinions of literary advisors on manuscripts, correspondence with the Soviet Union Writers' Union and the unions of other national republics, documents from the Literature Propaganda Bureau and the Writers' Club, and financial documentation. The most important documents presenting evidence of cultural opposition are transcripts of congresses of writers and Board meetings, and some records of section meetings.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 500-999
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Bleiere, Daina
Māris Čaklais (2000). Laiks iegravē sejas: uzmetumi memuāriem. Rīga: Jāņa Rozes apgāds.
Inta Čaklā (2002). Kā dzeja izlauzās brīvība. No "Stāsta par Knuta Skujenieka grāmatas neizdošanu". In: Rita Luginska, Saulcerīte Viese (Sast.). Grāmatas aizkulises: Apceres, dokumenti, intervijas, atmiņas. Rīga: Sol Vita, pp. 74-95.
Ilgonis Bērsons (2006).Auseklītis zem āmura un kāškrusta: rakstnieku soļi divos lūzumgados (1940-1941). Rīga: Sol Vita.
Ieva Heimane, red. (2010). Radošo savienību plēnums. 1. un 2. jūnijs. Rīga: Jumava.
Silvija Radzobe (2017). "Kosmopolītu" lieta un Aleksandrs Čaks: dokumentāla hronika ar komentāriem. Rīga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds.