The Keys ep24 The Song Festival in Soviet Latvia
The Song Festival in Soviet Latvia – a tradition that was born on the wings of Latvian self-
determination and forced to survive under a brutal regime. The Song Festival is a significant part of Latvian national identity. The festival was fated to become a painful symbol for Latvia’s loss of independence. The Latgale Song Festival in Daugavpils on 15 and 16 June, 1940, was the last event of its kind to take place in a free country. During the second day of the festival the USSR declared its ultimatum, demanding free passage for troops and the establishment of a pro-Soviet government. In time the occupants realized it was more beneficial not to forbid the Latvian festival, but instead to change it into a proper Soviet celebration. Paradoxically, even though this Soviet ideological nightmare made a mockery of the festival, it also helped strengthen it. What traditions were introduced during the Soviet regime? How did the festival change?