Marshal Gororov sat behind the vast desk. He stirred his tea with vigor. The cup was a Russian one, clear glass in an elegant silver holder.
Gororov held up the glass, pointing at the swirling sugar cube with his teaspoon. “You see how it it does not dissolve?” he said.
Bergmanis was unused to the indoors after so many months in the forest. He perched uneasily on the gilt chair in his smoke-sodden clothes, nervously twisting his forager’s cap. He did not like this Soviet and his evasions.
To Bergmanis, the matter was simple enough. The Nazis were gone, smashed to rubble. His men were tired of fighting, tired of war. They missed their homes, their families.
Gororov held up the spoon, smiled as he plunged it in. He crushed the sugar cube against the side of the cup. “But you see,” he said, “it is all a matter of approach.”
World War II losses in Latvia were among the highest in Europe, with 30% of population killed. The Soviet Union reoccupied Latvia as part of the Baltic Offensive in 1944, a twofold military-political operation to rout German forces and the “liberation of the Soviet Baltic peoples.” In 1949 the Soviet Council of Ministers issued a decree “on the expulsion and deportation” from Latvia of “all kulaks and their families, the families of bandits and nationalists”, and others. More than 200,000 people were deported from the Baltic in 1940–1953. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulag. All in all, 10 percent of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to labor camps. Many soldiers evaded capture and joined the Latvian national partisans’ resistance that waged unsuccessful guerilla warfare for several years.