By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is healthier recognized in Canada for his notorious function in top-rated Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he used to be appointed Director basic of monetary improvement in 1950 with the knowledge that via his connections to Europe he may possibly attract German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impression used to be dropped at an abrupt finish whilst, in 1954, he was once charged with defrauding the govt. The media, latching directly to his murky previous and his attainable association with warfare criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.
This used to be now not the 1st time his identify was once hooked up with arguable concerns. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than heritage. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the refuge of Canada, he used to be a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority reliable throughout the Soviet invasion, a intelligent collaborator below the Nazi profession, then, a chum to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced people, and an adviser to the govt of Canada. during this first critical 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 desire to survive.
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Extra info for Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
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. In his capacity as legal counsel, he became aware of the involvement of some of the banks in unsavoury deals with politicians and parlia- Wunderkind in Reborn Latvia, 1908-1938 33 mentarians. 'The young jurist would not accept the corrupt customs of the day. With barely concealed contempt he opposed many important men in parliament and court,' Zemgals relates.
For example, there is no evidence to support the boast that he had been among a select number of students given an elite education by the government to prepare them for a future leadership role in Latvia. 'In 1929 there were hardly more than a dozen of us,' Valdmanis bragged to a Standing Committee of the Canadian Senate in 1949: 'When we graduated from our universities we were sent abroad. To each one a special field was assigned. Mine was the field of economics, trade, industry, and finance. I was sent first to Germany and became special assistant to Dr Schacht, the President of the German Wunderkind in Reborn Latvia, 1908-1938 29 Reichsbank; later to France, England, Belgium, Holland - every European country.
91 For more than ten years a hydroelectric deal had apparently 36 Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival eluded a committee of ten Latvian specialists negotiating with various countries. '12 In the ceremony launching the project, Valdmanis received appropriate credit and the king of Sweden bestowed on Valdmanis an honour called a commander of the Swedish Vasa Order III Rank. In connection with the economic plans he developed for Ekis, Valdmanis took credit for having been a chief instigator in the formation of national enterprises.
Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival by Gerhard P. Bassler