By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is better recognized in Canada for his notorious function in best Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he was once appointed Director basic of monetary improvement in 1950 with the knowledge that via his connections to Europe he may possibly appeal to German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His effect used to be delivered to an abrupt finish whilst, in 1954, he used to be charged with defrauding the govt. The media, latching directly to his murky prior and his attainable association with struggle criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.
This was once now not the 1st time his identify used to be attached with debatable matters. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than historical past. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the shelter of Canada, he was once a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority respectable in the course of the Soviet invasion, a clever collaborator less than the Nazi profession, then, a pal to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced individuals, and an adviser to the govt of Canada. during this first severe biography of Alfred Valdamis historian Gerhard Bassler casts the tale of this political manipulator and chameleon in new phrases: the customarily tragic effects of the need to survive.
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Additional resources for Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
Especially Latvia's newly educated and rapidly growing middle-class intelligentsia was anxious to assume and enjoy power in the new state. '30 The nationally respected author, politician, and diplomat, Dr Mikelis Valters, supplied this movement for a Latvian Latvia with a comprehensive economic program. In his 1933 book, From Collapse to Planned Economy: Problems of Latvia's Renewal, Latvia's Future, Valters argued that the nation was not fully independent as long as its industry and commerce were in the hands of ethnic minorities.
Reporting directly to the president, Ekis was not willing to fight his jealous colleagues in the cabinet. He demanded from Valdmanis a plan, but was allegedly unable to present and defend whatever plans Valdmanis proposed. 'It came to the point that I was called into cabinet meetings to explain Mr Ekis's proposals to the cabinet,' Valdmanis pointed out. 87 As the head of the finance ministry's consulting division, or 'brain centre' as Zemgals terms it, Valdmanis was responsible for laying out the legal ramifications of the regime's economic policies and policy proposals.
Irma, who remembers proofreading all his legal papers, considered her husband very intelligent but emphasized that he also worked very hard, a fact often overlooked by those who envied his career. In his few spare moments he played chess and tennis. His chess proficiency won him the Latvian championship. Ch. Schmidt (after 1935 known as Rigas Cementa Fabrikas),71' remained one of his mentors and closest friends until 1954. Valdmanis's ethical standards appear to have brought him lifetime enemies.
Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival by Gerhard P. Bassler