Before National Communism: Joining the Latvian Komsomol under Stalin
In 1959, Indriks Pinksis, Eduards Berklavs and Vilis Krūmiņš were among the prominent targets of Moscow's National Communist purge of supposed ‘bourgeois nationalists' operating within the leadership of the Latvian Communist Party. A decade earlier all three had been active leaders of the Latvian Komsomol. This article explores the Stalin years of the Latvian Komsomol, and argues that the Komsomol was only able to win an acceptable number of recruits when it abandoned attempts to recruit on the basis of wartime activity or class allegiance and focused on recruiting ethnic Latvians. However, this raised the same issues later faced by the National Communists: as membership was extended to those with a ‘doubtful’ background, and the press played down ‘proletarian internationalism’, Moscow took fright. In early 1953 the Latvian Komsomol experienced a purge similar in tone to that which would take place within the Latvian Communist Party more broadly in 1959.
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