So we last left off on Mappy Monday with Interwar Territorial Changes in Latvia. Today, we move on to the tricky business of naming during wartime.

During the Second World War, Latvia was occupied three times, and the third occupation lasted until 1991. Latvia was occupied first by the Soviets in 1940-1941, then by the Nazis in 1941-1944, and then by the Soviets again until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The permanent name and territory change that these occupations created was the loss of part of the Abrene region in eastern Latvia. The lost territory included the town of Abrene and its railway hub, as well as six surrounding parishes – Augšpils, Gauri, Kacēni, Linava, Purvmala and Upmale. This area had been gained from Pskov province when Latvia declared its independence, and it was affirmed by the Latvian-Soviet Peace Treaty of 1920. In this peace treaty, the Soviet Union forever renounced any claims on Latvian territory. However, the Second World War showed that this treaty, in the end, wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. In 1944, after re-occupying Latvia, these six parishes and the town of Abrene were detached from the Latvian SSR and became a part of the Russian SFSR. This territory was not regained by Latvia after independence, and it remains within the Russian Federation, where Abrene is known by its old name Pytalovo, which is often believed to be a Russianization of the Latvian “Pie Tālavas” (“near Tālava”) – a name that takes us back to the ancient territories of Latvia (see here) and the Tālava mentioned there, which is close to modern Pytalovo.

Of a non-permanent nature were the street name changes introduced by the Soviets, then the Nazis, and then the Soviets again – many names celebrating Latvians, or virtues such as Freedom, had to be eliminated to suit the Soviet or Nazi purposes. As I described in my post The Many Names of Freedom Street, this was a key street for renaming. Others that were renamed included Bruņinieku iela (Knight/Crusader Street), which became Red Army Street, Pils laukums (Castle Square) became Pioneer Square, Jēkabu iela (Jacob Street) became Komsomol Street, and so on. Even innocuous-sounding streets, like Stabu iela (Post Street) became Friedrich Engels Street. These streets regained their Latvian names when independence was restored (and some earlier during Perestroika).

So what do we have left when it comes to Latvian territorial changes? A bit of the Soviet era, and then we get to the modern day! Then I will need a new topic for Mappy Mondays. Any suggestions? Leave them in comments!

Mappy Monday – Second World War Name Changes
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