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Thunder Cross, Latvia

Pērkonkrusts

Last modified: 2020-05-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: thunder cross | latvia |
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image by Jānis Stūrītis, António Martins-Tuválkin and Tomislav Todorović, 23 March 2016



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Flag

I found another very interesting poster showing a crimson red horizontal flag, with a yellow swastika and two crossed white stars. It is the flag of the Pērkonkrusts (Thunder cross) a "Latvian ultra-nationalist, anti-German and anti-Semitic political party founded in 1933 by Gustavs Celmiņš, borrowing elements of German nationalism - but being unsympathetic to German National Socialism at the time - and Italian fascism, (which) was outlawed in 1934 and dissolved in 1944, when Celmiņš, who had initially returned to work in the occupying German administration, was imprisoned." Its flag is seen here.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%93rkonkrusts
Esteban Rivera, 22 March 2016

"Crossed white stars" are actually a cross crosslet.
As Wikipedia, also states, Thunder Cross was refounded after Latvia had regained its independence - several times, each time banned shortly afterwards, always under the leadership of an Igors Šiškins. After the last ban, a Gustavs Celmiņš Center was founded, under the same leadership and the same flag. Photo of the flag used by one of these "incarnations" can be found here. (image)
Dark red field (same as the national flag), white cross crosslet and golden (old gold) swastika are clearly recognizable.
Tomislav Todorović, 22 March 2016

Image adapted with credit to Jānis Stūrītis; source given is Armands Paeglis' book "Pērkonkrusts pār Latviju" (not a Vexillology book).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 March 2016

I made after the following source photo. The shape is more oblong (about 3:5), the shade of red is that of Latvian national flag and the swastika has thicker arms.
Source http://tautastribunals.eu/?p=1837
Tomislav Todorović, 23 March 2016

To explain the symbolism of this flag, one has to bear in mind that members of the Thunder Cross advocated rejection of Christianity as a religion of foreign origin and its replacing with Dievturība a Latvian neo-pagan religious movement which was founded in 1925. In that religion, cross crosslet and swastika are symbols, respectively, of Māra and Laime, the highest-ranking goddesses, which are considered to make a trinity with the supreme god Dievs. The symbols of these and other deities are shown at the website of Dievturība community.
From the photos found at the same website, it is clear that a wooden cross crosslet (krustukrusts), or Māra's Cross (Māras krusts) makes an important part of the altar. Photo of the altar is available here and an enlarged photo of the cross itself is available here.
Tomislav Todorović, 26 March 2016

image by Tomislav Todorović, 27 April 2016

In 1990s, and possibly some time during 2000's, Thunder Cross was using another flag, where a narrow white swastika with much wider dark red borders (pattern modeled after the Latvian national flag) was placed in center and a small dark green cross crosslet ("Māra's Cross") was placed in canton, all on white field. A photo, no longer online, could be found here (saved image).
A black and white photo from the same source, also no longer online, saved here, gives an incomplete view of the same flag. Note the text along the bottom edge, which dates the photo in the year 1996. Finally, another color photo, again with the incomplete view of the flag, was originally found here (saved image)
The flag seems not to be in use any longer, for only the flags with the original design can currently be seen on the Web.
Tomislav Todorović, 27 April 2016

The flag use in the 2000s is verified by two YouTube videos recorded in the said period. The first of those, taken on 2008-11-18, is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=173&v=2w8IOQt__s0&feature=emb_logo
The flag is visible in many intervals during the video, but the details are generally not very discernible because it was taken by night. They are the best discerned @1:33-1:53, @2:10-2:15 and @2:25-2:36. Another video, available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=21&v=8mgg0cmKXlE&feature=emb_logo is claimed to have been taken in summer 2009 (impossible to verify - only the uploading date of 2011-07-16 is presented). There, the flag is visible throughout most of its duration, but is rarely unfolded enough to see al the details, which are the best discernible @0:23-0:27 and @7:20-7:25.
Tomislav Todorovic
, 12 April 2020

image by Tomislav Todorović, 12 April 2020

After the Thunder Cross was banned in 2006, the Gustavs Celmiņš Center (Gustava Celmiņa centrs) was founded in the same year. It has maintained an online presence since at least 2009, the URL being derived not from its official name, but from that of the Thunder Cross [1]. However, by early 2017 [2, 3] the official name was removed from the site, the organization beginning to operate more openly as the renewed Thunder Cross, even though that name does not seem to be officially re-adopted. Ever since its creation, the website bore the image of a logo: black diamond, charged with white swastika upon dark red cross crosslet, all within the border patterned like the national flag of Latvia. The same design has also been appearing as the sleeve patch on the members' uniforms [4, 5], which are essentially the same as used until 1944: http://propagandahistory.ru/pics/2014/03/1395416145_8897.jpg, the gray shirts being their most important part. The shirts' color appears as the field of the newest Thunder Cross flag, which is charged with the described logo. The earliest recorded appearance of the flag was in Riga, at the rally before the Freedom Monument on 2017-07-01 [6]. The flag was used again, together with the national flag and two previous movement flags, at the Latvian Republic Proclamation Day celebration in Riga on 2018-11-18 [7, 8, 9, 10]; the case was brought before the court [11], but dismissed, with the explanation that no law was broken by the flags' use [12, 13]. The flag was also used, together with the national flag only, at the protest before the Embassy of France on 2019-02-09, organized as the support to the Yellow Vest protests in France [14, 15]. On 2019-07-01, at another rally before the Freedom Monument, these two flags were used together again [16].

Sources:
[1] Gustavs Celmiņš Center website at Internet Archive - Home page (saved on 2009-09-11): http://web.archive.org/web/20090911031828/http://www.perkonkrusts.lv/
[2] Gustavs Celmiņš Center website at Internet Archive - Home page (saved on 2013-06-14 - last pre-2017 saving):
http://web.archive.org/web/20130614151423/http://perkonkrusts.lv/
[3] Gustavs Celmiņš Center / Thunder Cross website at Internet Archive - Home page (saved on 2017-05-02): http://web.archive.org/web/20170502234005/http://perkonkrusts.lv/
[4] Latvian Republic People's Tribunal website: https://tautastribunals.eu/?p=1837
[5] Diena.lv website: https://www.diena.lv/raksts/latvija/zinas/drosibas-policija-velas-aizliegt-gustava-celmina-centru-un-aizsargu-organizaciju-13980691
[6] YouTube - Video from the Thunder Cross rally at the Freedom Monument in Riga on 2017-07-01: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9h7BkP2zUE&feature=emb_logo
[7] The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism website: https://antisemitism.org.il/en/136251/
[8] RusNext website: https://rusnext.ru/news/1544503682
[9] Latvian National Front website: http://fronte.lv/2019/02/muzsenais-svetais-simbols-svastika-1-dala/svastika-pie-brivibas-pieminekla/
[10] Spektr.Press website: https://spektr.press/drevnij-simvol-policiya-bezopasnosti-zainteresovalas-svastikoj-na-prazdnovanii-100-letiya-latvii-lish-cherez-neskolko-dnej/
[11] RuBaltic.ru website: https://www.rubaltic.ru/news/06022019-v-sud-peredali-delo-o-svastike-na-shestvii-v-chest-100letiya-latvii/
[12] EurAsia Daily website: https://eadaily.com/ru/news/2019/03/12/latviyskiy-sud-ne-usmotrel-narusheniya-v-svastike-v-centre-rigi
[13] Press.lv website: https://press.lv/post/eto-ne-svastika-sud-opravdal-shishkinsa-za-flag-18-noyabrya-u-pamyatnika-svobody/
[14] YouTube - Protest before the Embassy of France in Riga on 2019-02-09: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=242&v=YeTG9VPB8bM&feature=emb_logo
[15] Gustavs Celmiņš Center / Thunder Cross website - Photo gallery from the protest before the Embassy of France in Riga on 2019-02-09: https://perkonkrusts.lv/dzeltenas-vestes-pie-francijas-vestniecibas/
[16] YouTube - Video from the Thunder Cross rally at the Freedom Monument in Riga on 2019-07-01: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1239&v=ZMHPpHh1lxg&feature=emb_logo 

Tomislav Todorović, 12 April 2020