THE KGB AND KOMSOMOL – LATVIAN CASE (1945 – 1964)
Relations between the Latvian KOMSOMOL (LĻKJS) and the KGB (līdz 1954.g. – MGB) of the Soviet Republic of Latvia has not so far been a object of a systemic, general and broader research; only some nucleus of document-based research can so far be found in the media and group publications by A.Bambals, R.Jansons, H.Strods, I.Zālīte, J.Rimšāns, V.Guščins. This presentation is based mainly on almost yet unresearched materials of the Komsomol central office and its regional branches’ secret files kept in LVA.
In the occupied Latvia, these relations between the KOMSOMOL and the KGB were a part of the whole corpus of relationships, dictated by the highest authorities of the Communist Party in Moscow, combined with cosurveillance from the side of the General Staff, BMD (Baltic Military District) command, and secret services.
Members of the KGB were obliged to have been taken part in the Young Communist League. The ”activists” of the League were the main and the fundamental ”suppliers of cadres” to the state security services, including the military intelligence structures and other services and units. Also, new leading bodies for the KGB were searched for – and found – among the comparatively young members being representative also in the Young Communist League.(LVA,201.f.,13.a.,23.lieta) During the Stalin’s time the cadres’ of the LĻKJS often took part in criminal actions, organized closely with the KGB organs; in some sense, it is signalized by the very notion of the ‘KOMSOMOL secret’, which included a point of a secrecy of the ‘deeds’ (in fact, crimes, such as taking part in organizing deportations).(LVA,201.f.,572.a.,21.lieta)
After Khrushchev’s secret speech for the delegates of theCPSU20th Congress on February 1956, a process or partial “de-Stalinization” was taking place in the whole Soviet Union; especially at the beginning of the Thaw, the state security departments and their deads got a public condemnation in several, comparatively many episodes; those KGB workers who had taken part in the bloodiest of the Stalinist crimes, got expelled from the Communist Party or even received punishment for that. The replacement for that part of the vanished personnel was, again, taken from the circles of the Youth League. Also, the LĻKJS leaders and institutions nominated or recommended their candidates in order to renew the KGB bureaucracy. But, in general, this recruiting of new functionaries from among the LĻKJS, in Latvia seems to have happened in a rather narrow range, especially, if compared with the “old” USSR republics, or even the “new” Lithuania. The sum of these “limiting” factors, due to the specific character of the historical development of the Latgale region in Latvia, had a less impact of the sons of this “land of blue lakes”.(LVA, 201.f,.6.a.,53.lieta)
Among the initiates of the KGB in the occupied Latvia, there was still a proportionally huge number of the after-war immigrants, of a ethnic Russian (and other) nationality. By the first review of the documents, it seems that the situation started to change gradually after the mid-1960ties, as in the Latvian society, year by year, rises the number of young people with “clean” and “good” biographies, because of their young years, actually. Nevertheless, the proportion of ethnic Latvian nationality members among the local KGB, seems to have stayed rather small.
The Thaw was uneven and with backlashes. During the campaign against the bourgeois nationalism and the “Berklavians” in the 1959, Vladislavs Ruskulis (from Aglona, Latgale) as a significant number from within Komsomol nomenclatura lost his job as the first secretary of the LĻKJS; the formal reason was that the information had been revealed from the KGB sources. (See: Inga Helmane. „Grēkus neesmu nožēlojis nekad…”// Padomju Jaunatne, 1989. g. 1. martā.)
In the circumstances of a partial de-Stalinization, the Baltic nations strengthened their cooperation in a common fight against the Soviet Empire. On the 1962, KGB did arrest and the Highest Court judged (in secret) a Latvian historian and journalist Viktors Kalninš (who, possibly, has been also elected a member of the CC of the LĻKJS ?), because of his efforts to achieve the change of the status of the three Baltic republics to respect national their interests; this plan was developed together with Knuts Skujenieks, Gunārs Rode, and others. (See:Helēna Celmiņa. Sirdsapziņas cietumnieks. Riga, 2010. 41– 47.P.)
As for the directives, given by the CP, it is important to note that KGB and the LĻKJS tried to fulfill the min a cooperation, especially, regarding the cases of neutralizing the actions of any opposition movements, created by the LĻKJS youth or the young people apart it. The activities of such groups were regularly examined in strictly closed meetings of the Central Committee secretariat (?) of LĻKJS; the opinion was that neither any other members of the LĻKJS Central Committee, neither the personnel should know about the cases examined there. The meetings were protocoled in secret and kept hidden; these materials nowadays would make a worthy evidence of important episodes in the opposition movements of a part of the young communists and other youngsters.
In the opinion of the presenter of this paper besides that, a separate research should be made into the formation of anti-Soviet groups organized by the KGB in order to discover the real participants of the resistance or just to raise the level of professional performance.
During the Thaw and along with the new approach of the CPSU to the international relations, the Komsomol intended to widen, and, in many cases, to establish new ties with such foreign youth organizations which were not communist, but also did not take a strictly anti-communist position. Due to an unpleasant connotation of the very word ‘communist’, it was decided to broaden the area of activities of the “Soviet Youth Anti-Fascist Committee”; that was originally set already in the 1941; with the new principles of the changed atmosphere, it was renamed as “Committee of the USSR Youth Organizations” (JOK in Latvian, KMO in Russian).It was established on the June 5, 1956; under its protection, two years later the International tourism office of the Youth of the USSR was set: “Sputnik”, which was under especially harsh KGB surveillance.
Specific features of evolution of the cooperation between the KGB and Komsomol in Latvia specifically in comparison with Lithuania and Estonia are accentuated in the presentation.
Regarding the relative, individual support from the Party, LĻKJS veterans and other “Light Forces” within the KGB, their input in the independence regaining process should be examined individually.