The Keys ep39 The cult of Kārlis Ulmanis
The cult of Kārlis Ulmanis: the ideological war against Old Riga’s German heritage
In October 1935, 85 years ago, noises of construction filled the Old Town around the Riga Dome Cathedral. Men with crowbars and hammers hurried around like ants, lorries darted to and fro. They were creating a new symbol for the new regime – a huge square that had never been here before. This was the first strike in the grandiose plan of rebuilding the old Riga. The square was named after the 15 May, in honor of the date of Ulmanis’s coup. To nationalist Ulmanis only a few Old Town buildings were valuable; the others – dull, inferior, ripe for demolishing. Many houses and a dozen of streets were lost to this ideological war that was even more pointless than the actual war. This was a war against reason, and there were no winners.