By Gerhard P. Bassler
Alfred Valdmanis is better identified in Canada for his notorious position in prime Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he was once appointed Director common of financial improvement in 1950 with the certainty that via his connections to Europe he might attract German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island. His impression was once dropped at an abrupt finish while, in 1954, he was once charged with defrauding the govt. The media, latching directly to his murky earlier and his attainable association with warfare criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland's difficulties, portray him as half comic, half sinister villain.
This was once no longer the 1st time his identify was once attached with arguable concerns. Valdmanis's wily political manoeuvring is extra the stuff of fiction than background. among 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall within the shelter of Canada, he was once a finance minister of pre-war Latvia, a central authority reliable in the course of the Soviet invasion, a smart collaborator less than the Nazi profession, then, a chum to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POW and displaced people, and an adviser to the govt of Canada. during this first critical biography of Alfred Valdamis historian Gerhard Bassler casts the tale of this political manipulator and chameleon in new phrases: the usually tragic results of the desire to survive.
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Alfred Valdmanis is better recognized in Canada for his notorious position in most popular Joey Smallwood's scheme to industrialize Newfoundland. A Latvian immigrant, he used to be appointed Director normal of financial improvement in 1950 with the certainty that via his connections to Europe he may possibly attract German and Baltic industrialists to the remoted, rural island.
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Additional resources for Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
But within the month Valdmanis was given a contractual appointment with the department's legal counselling division. In April 1934 he was promoted to legal counsel (Juriskonsults), and in November 1934 to senior counsel to head the joint legal office for the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Economics. When in April 1936 the Ministry of Finance established its own legal department, Valdmanis was invited to be its head. In June 1938 he was appointed minister of finance by directive of the president of Latvia.
There he was promoted to the position of deputy assistant to the metals grading inspector, and in March 1930 to the position of assistant clerk. ™ Both the departments of Economics and of Trade and Industry were within the Ministry of Finance. According to his government record of employment, Valdmanis's professional legal career began inauspiciously in August 1932 when the director of the Department of Economics took him on as a temporary replacement for an assistant legal counsel, initially for a one-month trial period.
80 Whether as a civil servant Valdmanis was in fact the alleged youthful idealist opposed to corrupt politicians and a champion for clean government cannot be verified. Although projecting the image of a non-conformist, some of the key traits attributed to the young Valdmanis - quest for education, career ambition, egomania, disillusionment with liberal democracy, and espousal of ethnic nationalism - were not atypical of Latvia's young educated elite at the time. Zenta Maurina and Margers Vestermanis have identified endemic 'narcissistic national pride' and exaggerated longing for upward mobility and social recognition as conspicuous features of the prewar Latvian intelligentsia.