Today, when the bourgeois politicians of Latvia directly or indirectly approve marches of the legionnaires of the “Waffen SS”, as well as various bourgeois and nationalist figures, and socialism is condemned from their lips, I would like to note that the working class had its own heroes who devoted their lives to freeing the working class from the yoke of exploitation, and Vilis Lacis, the great Soviet Latvian writer, rightfully takes such a place in Latvian literature. A native of the working class, Lacis left an extensive creative heritage in the form of dozens of monumental works, many of which were subsequently filmed.
Vilis Lacis was born on April 29 (May 12), 1904 in the village of Rinuzhi (now part of Riga) in the family of a port worker. From early childhood, Lacis knew the need, the injustice of the social structure and all the hardships of the life of a simple worker. In 1917, before the Germans occupied Riga, his family was evacuated to Barnaul. In 1921, Vilis Lacis returned to Latvia.
During this time, Vilis Tenisovich was a port loader, a fisherman, a stoker of a merchant ship, and in his spare time he wrote his fiction novels. That is why his novels are so believable and reflect the real life of that Latvia as it was in the bourgeois period, during the German occupation and in the post-war period, when Nazism was defeated and legal Soviet power was restored in Latvia.
In 1928, Lacis joined the Communist Party of Latvia. Its useful to note, that these were the times of the upcoming bourgeois reaction. The Communist Party was in an illegal position, so for the most part the CPL members were well aware that they were not fighting for their career interests. At that time they joined the party, following the sincere conviction that only the victory of the working class can free Latvia from exploitation, from oppression. They entered to finally throw off the bourgeois yoke from the body of the people. Therefore, each line of the novels of Vilis Lacis is saturated with a spark of struggle for the bright future of mankind, and first of all, for a bright future for the person of work, and not for the tradesman and parasite.
Lacis described with amazing accuracy both a man of selfless and purposeful, and ordinary people, and the philistines of his time. And when you want to ask how a working person lives in modern capitalist Latvia, you can safely open his trilogy – novels “Five-story city”, “By the seas” and “Flightless birds”. In them you will still see the life of a working man of today’s bourgeois time. In today’s capitalist Latvia, little has changed since then.
In the first part of the novel “Storm” Lacis described that Latvia, which is idealized by the current ruling class. Described firmly and uncompromisingly. It is hardly worth doubting the veracity of the words of such a great writer, given the fact that today the working man was in exactly the same position as he had been in Latvia until 1940.
When socialist transformations began in Latvia, the writer headed the Council of People’s Commissars of Soviet Latvia and confidently set to work on transformations in the republic. However, these plans were prevented by the attack of fascist Germany on the USSR. Latvia was one of the first to take the blow of the Hitler hordes. The first part of the novel “The Storm” just ends with a description of the heroic battles of the Latvian workers, the Latvian peasants, the Latvian communists and Komsomol members against the Nazi invaders. “Hitler easily captured Europe, but for the first time near Liepaja he got the tough teeth”! And then there was something to fight for the Soviet Latvians. The Latvian people heroically defended the acquired homeland. Homeland without exploitation and oppression, and that is why the German occupiers received fierce resistance. It was a struggle for their system and for their people, and not for the capital of the rich.
Of course, there was scum on the body of the Latvian people – all sorts of scoundrels, traitors and henchmen that met Nazi soldiers with flowers, and then behave brutally than the Nazi invaders. That was our story. And Lacis, as the great writer of his time, forever captured the history of Latvia for future generations.
Vilis Tenisovich’s novels are read very easily, but from his books the reader receives a lot of smart and wise tips. The books of the writer develop the very best qualities in their readers, encourage to think and make a real person grow. And it is absolutely natural that among bourgeois ideologists and people with a philistine, nationalist worldview, the writer’s work causes sincere, genuine hatred.
After the war, the writer was actively involved in the life of his republic and his people. Actively came out from under his pen new works. Finally, it was possible to describe a person of today – a person of a socialist future. After all, he was growing before his eyes. His characters are as if merged with the author, with his dreams of a better future.
In the last years of his life, the writer was a member of the Board of the Writers Union of the Latvian SSR, as well as deputy chairman. And these were the years of the upsurge of the Latvian people, their creative powers, their progressive ideas.
For his unconditional contribution to Russian literature, Vilis Lacis was awarded the 7 Orders of Lenin and with the Order of the Patriotic War 1st Class. The writer died on February 6, 1966 and was buried in the Forest Cemetery of Riga. The name of the writer was the streets of many cities of Latvia and the USSR.
But the dark times were returning. In 1991, bourgeois revenge-seekers renamed Lacis Street in Riga, and his name from Latvian history began to carefully extinct. His works are forgotten, his name is hushed up – the proletarian writer is inconvenient to bourgeois authorities, who, with the help of his multifaceted talent, has discovered all the hardships and hardships of the working class for the general public.
The conscience of the Latvian people does not suit the “new” bourgeois power, but some small towns miraculously retained its name. For example, the expedition of the Geographical Society “Spilve” in 2016, using available materials, searched for Vilisa Lacisa street in Saulkrasti, a small town in Latvia.
It is hoped that the novels of Vilis Lacis in difficult moments will continue to illuminate the lives of those people who chose not the “well-fed petty bourgeois present”, but the path of struggle of real people for the real future of all humanity.
In a difficult moment, when the world is on the verge of catastrophe in the face of increasing contradictions, crises and wars of the capitalist present, Vilis Lacis gives us another clue. During the Nazi occupation, the Komsomol and Communists were the first to stand in the ranks of defenders of their homeland from the merciless and considered the world’s “strongest” enemy.
The man of the modern day, entangled in the contradictions of today’s problems of life, can safely draw for himself advice on what to do at such a time. The attractiveness and strength of the writer’s creativity lies in the harsh, tough truth of life and in the literary skill with which this truth is revealed to the reader. Lacis’s novels will never become obsolete, they will be relevant both during the struggle for a fair communist society and during the construction of a new society.
Time will pass, and history will sweep away all the scum of mankind from the face of the Earth. But the name of this great writer will forever remain the cultural heritage not only of the Latvian people, but also of the new communist, present, future!
“Thousands of millions of oppressed people in all parts of the world have joined the two hundred million people who listen to these words, though invisible in an unseen distance, but noticeably close. They listened to the leader of the Soviet people – they listened to all humiliated mankind, whose only hope for freedom and a life worthy of man was connected with the outcome of the battle, which broke out on the vast expanses of Russian land.”
- Vilis Lacis, “Storm”, part two, chapter one.
Kurzeme primary organization or WFL