Latvian Riflemen Monument, Riga
Standing on one of the main squares in central Riga, this statue is one of many symbols for the troublesome ties between the Russian and Latvian nation. The eight riflemen shown here represent eight regiments fighting in WWI. They were part of the Russian Imperial Army and fought against the Germans of WWII. In 1917, most units joined the Bolsheviks and fought for the reds during the civil war. In 1919, they played a part in the attempt to bring Latvia under Bolshevik Control. They were known as the "Red Riflemen" A smaller number changed sides again and fought for Latvia against now communist Russia.
Many thanks to User Oleg_D for letting me know about some mistakes I had in an earlier version of this tip!
In the Ratslaukums near the Museum of the Occupation is this very solid-looking, brutalist-style granite monument dedicated to the Latvian Riflemen. The Latvian Rifles was a division of the Soviet Army formed during the First World War to try to repel the advances of the German Army. After German occupation of Latvia they fought in the Russian Army. By 1917 there were eight Latvian Riflemen regiments. The majority of them transferred their loyalty to the Bolsheviks and became known as Red Latvian Riflemen. Today they might be viewed as traitors, as they fought for Soviet rule on the side of the Red Army in the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920). It was to these Red Latvian Riflemen that this monument was originally erected by the Soviets.
Some of the riflemen, however, sided against the Bolsheviks, and fought on the opposite side in the War of Independence. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the restoration of independent rule in Latvia, this monument has been regarded as being dedicated to riflemen of both colours. There are some people, however, who would like to see it taken down as it speaks too forcibly of Soviet times and oppression. Others though believe that it should remain as a tribute to those who fought for Latvia in the First World War, or simply as a fine illustration of Soviet monumental style. I am in the latter camp – I rather like this sort of thing, and this is a great example.
By the way, the nearby museum was also built in the 1970s (hence the unsympathetic architecture!) and dedicated to those same Red Latvian Riflemen, but since independence has become the Museum of Latvian Occupation, marking periods of occupation by Germany and by the Soviet Union. This museum is currently being renovated (and I believe will be expanded) and meanwhile exhibits are split between here and the former US Embassy in Raiņa bulvāris beyond the old town near the Freedom Monument. As I didn’t visit either (ran out of time and energy!) I can’t comment but those who did seem to find them worthwhile.
Next tip: St Peter’s Church
The Red Riflemen Monument is another impressive monument and also a very controversal!
The monument was built in 1970, to honor the Latvian red Riflemen who guarded Lenin during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
It is one of the few Communist symbols left in Riga and not everybody is happy to see it still standing today!
Why, Well, some say it is a symbol of the old Communist system.
Latvian Riflemen Monument is located the main square of Ratslaukums. The monument is rather a controversial monument. Does it represent Latvian hero who fought in the early years of WWI and defended invaders from Germany or does it represent Soviet occupation, as some of the Latvian rifleman became Stalin personal body guard. Despites the controversy the tall monument is impressive.
Actually the joke about monument was "Why are they all looking in 3 different directions?
They are looking for the 4th one to split the bottle.
(right at that time government raised the price of vodka from 3 to 4 rubles, so instead of customary splitting it 3 ways 1 ruble each drinkers had to do it 4 ways).
Just outside the main square of Ratslaukums is the somewhat controversial statue to the Latvian Red Riflemen. As you might be able to tell from the reference to Red, and the sharp contours of the socialist realist style, this is a monument built to celebrate Soviet heroes. But the riflemen were Latvian, and defended the country from invasion by Germans. And therein lies the controversy. Some see them as part of a Soviet history they hate and want the monument torn down, and some see them as Latvian heroes.
For now the monument remains.
Behind the Museum of occupation is the big red statue of the Latvian Riflemen. It was erected in 1970, but there has now been talk to replace it with something else. The Latvian riflemen were regiments fighting in the Russian Imperial Army. When the Russian revolution started many of the soldiers chose to support the Bolsheviks, but some fought for Latvian independence in the war. The riflemen were known as the Latvian Red Riflemen during the Soviet occupation and they were palace guards for Lenin.
Latvian Riflemen Monument
This is THE place to meet people in Riga. The Taxis stop here and it is very near the House of the Blackheads.
Historical note: The statue is a Communist/Soviet Union commemoration of the Latvian Red Riflemen who supported the Russian Revolution (1917) and fought on the side of the Bolsheviks in World War I. Some of these same riflemen actually formed part of Lenin’s personal bodyguard. It’s now a bit of a Soviet Relic.
The controversial Latvian Riflemen statue is a monument to marksmen fighting in the Russian imperial army during WWI, some of which went on to support the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution and were Lenin's personal bodyguards.
Located at Latviesu Strelnieku laukums (Latvian Riflemen Square) you will find these three riflemen on duty. The riflemen statue is a tribute to the team that served as bodyguards of Lenin and as members of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War.
The jury is out on whether the statue to the Red Riflemen is a monument to communism, depicting the Latvian riflemen who guarded Lenin in 1917 in the Russian Revolution or whether it depicts the Latvians who fell in the First World War. It was erected in the 1970s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain and an end to Soviet rule was still unthinkable, so there are of course connotations of the Soviet era attached to it. Next to it is the museum of the occupation, which has a lot of information about the Nazi occupation of Riga during the Second World War, and this is opposite the new city hall - the facade of which is a copy of the facade that was destroyed during the Second World War.
This Latvian Riflemen Statue is located on the Latviesu strelnieku laukums square just after the museum of Occupation near the House of Blackheads.
On the picture im glad its got the ambiance i actually experienced in loco. you can notice the Peters church further more.
This monument was erected to honor the Latvian Riflemen battalions which were formed in World War I. Those troops stopped the German invasion near Riga.
It is said that some of the riflemen became Lenin's personal bodyguards. Like in all former Soviet cities such monuments are always discussed controversial. Some of Riga's cititzens want to pull it down, others want to keep it as a tribute to Latvians who fought in World War I.
The Red Riflemen Monument is located next to the Occupation Museum of Latvia in The Latvian Riflemen Square. The monument, built in 1970, is to honor the Latvian red Riflemen, who guarded Lenin during the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is one of the few Communist symbols left in Riga.
Should it stay?
Some Latvians don't like the statue and would love to see it torn down. They see it as a symbol of the old Communist system. Other people think it is an important and necessary honor to Latvians who fought during the early years of World War I. Whatever your politics, it is an impressive monument.