Lilita Zaļkalne

Brīvība (Freedom) As the Political Voice of Latvian Social Democrats in Exile, First Years (1948–1954): A Short Insight

Brīvība (Freedom) was the monthly newsletter of the exile Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (LSDSP), a newsletter which was established in Sweden in 1945. At first Brīvība was published as an annual journal, with issues in 1948, 1949 and 1950. As the official voice of the party, it defended the view that the exile community should unite under the last speaker of the democratic Latvian parliament and that exiles should not follow the lead of the Latvian Ambassador in London, who had been assigned extraordinary powers in 1940 by the authoritarian Latvian government. LSDSP support for the “parliamentarians” and its progressive standpoints on other political matters were not popular among the mainly conservative Latvian exiles. Moreover, the aggressive journalistic style of the first Brīvība issues was not helpful in attracting new party members or more subscribers. From July 1950 to the end of 1953, Brīvība was issued as an internal party newsletter. It also actively recruited party members among Latvian exile communities and sought to widen its readership. In 1954, Brīvība resumed publication as a monthly newsletter. The newsletter presented typical social democratic standpoints on global politics and uniquely LSDSP views on exile Latvian politics. However, the parliamentarian controversy was no longer at the forefront and the journalistic tone had mellowed. Almost at the same time, a major right-wing exile Latvian politician, Alfrēds Valdmanis, was sentenced by a Canadian court to four years’ imprisonment for fraud and extortion, which meant that the right-wing authoritarians in exile lost their leading figure. These may be some of the main factors why Brīvība succeeded in expanding its readership and was able to continue publication outside of Latvia until 1999, thereby retaining its importance in exile Latvian politics.