STRADNEIKS (The Worker)

Introduction: STRADNIEKS (THE WORKER)

The following excerpts of this scarce news publishing provide interesting insights to an immigrant population that was not yet acculturated and still brimming with enthusiasm for communism that held a promise for enslaved peasants and the working class under the rule of aristocracy.

Here is a brief description of its history as provided by Latvians from a publication in 1976.

"Besides the nationalistic and Christian oriented newspapers, publication also was started by the left wing groups. In 1906, right after the Russian revolution, a newspaper STRADNIEKS (Worker) was stared in Jamaica Plain, MA with a sizeable circulation. The newspaper agitated for strikes demanding "8 hrs. for work, 8 hours for relaxation and 8 hours for sleep." They started twice monthly, but later expanded as a weekly, employing 2 editors, 5 printers and an expeditor. 

STRAHDNEEKS (WORKER) Latvian Newspaper
published in Jamacia Plains, Boston, MA
(1906 - ?)
After Latvia became an independent country the newspaper STRADNIEKS took the Communist side as they become dependent on the resources of Moscow. The editors were Janis (John) Klava 1908-1911, Janis Ozols, Fricis Rozins 1913-1917, and Janis Klava-Arkietis. The later repatriated to the Soviet Union......

Another Latvian socialist publication was the PROLETARIETIS (Proletarian) (1902-1916). The ideology was similar to the left wing STRADNIEKS, only it belonged to a different faction among the American left wing. The editors where Julijs Vecozols and Mikelis Valters with strong nationalistic viewpoint, demanding independence for Latvians from Russia. The Communist underground intervened and accused Vecozols of a bank robbery in Tifliss, Russia. The accusation was only blackmail, and Vecozols was released after the Russians could not substantiate the charge. ...... other Socialist newspapers included DARBA BALSS (Voice of Work) (1916-1917) ... a magazine JAUNAIS PROMETEJS (The Young Prometheus) in 1927 (failed shortly after) ..... RITS (The Morning) was started by lawyer Zalitis. This [publication] existed only a few years but it carried the most vicious Communist propaganda against the free and independent Lativa. It was at the time when the American Communist Party established, and soon after, two more Communist influenced Latvian newspapers started publication: STRADNIEKA RITS (Workers Morning) (1925-1938) and AMERIKAS CINA (American Struggle) (1935-1940)"

Reference: "Latvians in Bicentennial America" Osvalds Akmentins, LATVJU GRAMATA, 1976, pg 211

January 1, 1906 - STRADNIEKS, No. 1

From Boston, MA

Listening to the International Socialist Office's invitation, a number of party and independent socialist groups are already turning their focus to the demonstration being organized for January 22.

In Boston, on December 28, many local ethnic socialist group representatives met at 330 Shawmut Avenue, at Dr. Konikowa's apartment. Represented were members of the Jewish Bund, Arbeiter Ringa [NB: "Arbeiter" means "worker" in German] and Latvian and Lithuanian organizations. In attendance also were a number of Socialist Party members. It was decided that the January 22 meeting would take place at the Faneuil Hall and that they would support a powerful English speaker. All of the ethnic speakers were also given the opportunity to speak. Due to the short amount of time, it had not been possible to invite representatives from other ethnic socialist organizations, but it was decided that for the next meeting the secretary would do so. Expected in attendance at the next meeting are also Finnish, Armenian and German delegates. The local Socialist Party's executive committee will also be holding a meeting soon, there the question of the demonstration will be decided. At any rate, everyone at the demonstration will go hand in hand. At the next meeting, it will be decided whether the parade will go ahead, when a number of delegates together will be able to decide if it will go well. The next meeting will take place on January 10. Without question, these kinds of demonstrations will also take place in other American cities on this day. It goes without saying that it is every member's responsibility to take part and support them.

From Boston, MA

Boston Latvian Society
Motto: United We Win, Divided We Lose
The Boston Latvian Workers' Association, in its December meeting, unanimously decided to accept all of the decisions made at the conference about the joining of all Latvian Socialist Workers' Associations in America. The meeting also unanimously decided to lend the executive committee $130 for the needs of the newspaper. M. Ogulis, R. Sawitzky and G. Ohsis were elected as executive committee members. The "Strādnieks" editorial board will be done by referendum vote. The printer and expedition personnel will be decided by the executive committee. Our old social-democratic soldier M. Ozolinsch from Pittsburgh participated in this meeting.

Ozolinsch was one of the first political emigrants in America, and after that one of the most capable Latvian speakers and one of the best Latvian agitators in the United States' workers' movement. On December 16, Ozolinsch spoke about the "Class War in America" in a well-attended meeting. He was visiting Boston for the first time - but hopes that it won't be the last. It was decided to organize a concert to benefit the new newspaper. After that, the decision was made to separate from the old Conant Hall (presently part of Harvard University/Nichols College). Future meetings will take place in Boston at Wells Memorial Hall, on the third Sunday of every month at 3 pm. This month was also the end of term for the officials of the association. The General Meeting will take place in January. A change in the leadership of the Boston's Latvian Workers' Association has little meaning when compared to the economic fears that are the guiding principles of the leadership. Two members of the Jewish workers' association "Bund" had arrived at the meeting, inviting members of the Workers' Association to solidarity and co-operation, to better support the revolution in Russia. The members accepted the invitation with enthusiasm.

Also important to announce is that the "Social Democratic Library's" collection has a new publication from its member Roland Holst, a brochure "Social-democracy and the Strike". In the words of member Kautzka, this brochure is "the most noteworthy theoretical work that has appeared in international socialist literature."

On Christmas Eve, the Jewish Bund (meaning federation or union), organized a concert and dance, where at least 40 Latvians attended, and with little exception most were our members.

At this same meeting, the writer of these lines received an invitation in the name of his organization to go to a conference on December 28 together with the [Jewish] Bund, Polish, Lithuanian and local American Socialist Party members, to make decisions about the January 22 demonstration.

--"Klaidonis" [pen name, translates to "drifter" or "vagabond"]

Interpretation by Antra Celmins

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"Strādnieks" (The Worker), Nr. 4, February 15, 1906

The Latvian Social-Democratic steering committee held its fourth meeting on February 5 at 118 Green Street, Jamaica Plain.

All three steering committee members came to the meeting. Invited to participate also was K. Siliņš, who also came. After reading the minutes of the last meeting, they were accepted and closed, and a overview of the last month and a half of work was accepted. The treasury had taken in $286.75, and $229.09 had been spent. $57.66 remains in the treasury. The secretary had received correspondence from all of the groups, along with a notice about the results of the vote for the editor. The votes given were as follows: To K. Siliņš - 157, to R. Osis - 5. K. Siliņš was elected as the editor of "Strādnieks" until January 1, 1907.

A notice had been received from comrade M. Ozoliņš, where he mentioned that on January 28 of this year, in Cleveland, after a reading before a group, a new Latvian Social Democratic group had been formed with ten members. Cleveland's group formed with similar rule as the other groups. All of the recommendations from the New York conference were accepted. Someone with the name Weinsteins tried to confuse and delay the organizational work, but was left in shame, just like anyone else who had tried to do something similar.

K. Siliņš put before the steering committee the suggestion made by Chicago comrade J. Šmits about the publication of a weekly paper. The secretary was assigned to write to Šmits and ask for the suggestions he developed. The secretary was also assigned the task of writing to the Chicago group for a clarification about what some comrades were saying, about how the revolution could be supported solely with money. Responses from all other groups were favorable. From the overviews of year-end operations, it is clear that everywhere where Latvians live in larger numbers, the number of comrades in the groups grows substantially. It is the goal of all comrades to encourage not only the growth of the groups, but also so that the comrades in each group grow in their socialistic spirit and make it deeper and more meaningful.

Speaking about housekeeping matters within the organization, the outlook is not as glowing right now. It was necessary to pay off the purchase price, acquire some technical instruments, pay the wages of the printing press staff, pay rent for the printing press and pay for other smaller expenses. Of course, after the first events it will be easier. Publications won't be as large, but the need still remains. It is the responsibility of the comrades to support our enterprise with more energy and to find more support. All of our work and growth will be most easily seen in our newspaper. From that it will be possible to see the progress of our development. Without a newspaper, our organization would quickly disintegrate.

We must consider the many hundreds, one could even say thousands, of Latvians that have arrived in the USA in the past few years, who are interested in socialism and the revolution in general, but do not know other languages, only Latvian. For the good of these people, for the good of socialism, for the good of the Russian Revolution, we need to continue with the work that we have started. Even those who think that the revolution need only be supported with money must acknowledge that it would not be possible to do so without a newspaper that unites and motivates us. A real revolutionary - a worker - is only a social-democrat and a social-democrat does not care about borders when it comes to what revolution to support. All of our social-democratic work is revolutionary work. And towards this work, comrades, work with renewed vigor.

L.S.D. Steering Committee secretary M. Oguls.

Interpretation by Antra Celmins

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"Strādnieku Rīts" (Workers' Morning), No. 49, December 5, 1925

[Part of a longer piece on fractionalism in the 20th century Socialist movement, this particular part is set in the 1914-1915 time period.] (Page 2)

Christian Socialism has grown deep roots into the party. It is difficult to find a nonbeliever amongst the party's leaders. Among party members, it isn't much better. The secretary of the Connecticut national party confirmed that in 1914, approximately 90% of his members were believing Catholics and that 70% of them went to confession regularly. Even some priests and Salvation Army officials are in the party. There are even socialist priests. These preacher "socialists" are united by their publication "The Christian Socialist". The preachers' creations were being sent from the central office of the Party to all of the party journals (including our "Worker") for printing. There, it explained that every Christian person should become a socialist, and taught that Jesus was the first socialist.

Barely a national party meeting would go by without a speaker not confirming his faith, and old Āzis once wrote, that the party's national organizers and Boston's March celebration's speaker has forgotten to mention that he stands with his religion's devils, ghosts and witches, and said that he was sad, that "believers make gods and ghosts the advocates of proletarian knowledge".

Sometimes there is a local speaker who does not have such strong faith. Such a person is appropriately rebuked, so that they do not claw at God or the eyes of his Roman representative. As such, the Boston Central Committee, on the recommendation of the current Worker leader N. Dozenbergs, accepted a resolution, that prevents local speakers from criticizing the church, especially the Catholic church, at their meetings. All of the Roxbury Latvian Division's delegates voted in favour of this ban. Leftist Latvians, Finns and Russians voted against it.

In this same Boston, party leader Carey told a large emitting that the Biblical views that are described in the book "Women and Socialism" are completely non-socialistic. Party members in Boston and New York are founding the "Socialist Revolutionary Church", where preachers (for money) provide socialist weddings, christenings, burials and "holy dinners". But it is forbidden to criticize these men.

New York's Socialist revolutionary gentleman Bouck White fools around with the Salvation Army. Unemployed workers are invited to churches for food. Every attendee gets a sandwich, but when going to leave, he finds that the doors are locked. One must pay for lunch, the godless must sit for several hours and listen to the gentleman's sermon and the preachers. White half-heartedly does this with "socialistic" ceremony, he likes to, as it were, "rub salt in the wounds". He gives the hungry a bit of dry bread, a handful of rice and a few dates, and says, that this is scientifically designed food for the unemployed. You eat this once a day, and you will not need to eat a second time. The next day, the Socialist press describes this "member's" good works.

Interpretation by Antra Celmins

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"Strādnieku Rīts" (Workers' Morning), Nr.2, January 8, 1927

Lac du Bonnet, Canada

After a long absence, there was a lecture at the Letonija club on December 14 at 6pm. There were about 25 listeners. Dozenbergs had arrived from Chicago. He was happy that there were more enthusiastic people than Chicago, considering the cold weather that they had to brave to come to the lecture. If I'm not mistaken, it was about -45 degrees. In Chicago, if a little rain falls, then one would have to bring their umbrella and therefore would not come to a meeting.

For the first time in a while, the lecture took place in the Latvian language. There have been a number of evenings, where Jewish speakers were sent to the Latvians by the Workers' Party. But now they had their compatriot Dozenbergs.

The theme was: "What is being thought and done in Russia, what does it mean to be a Communist?"

One could not find fault with anything in Dozenbergs' lecture. He provided good information about Russia's Communist work, and about its construction. This is clearly understood, because Russia has to stay in the forefront of the Soviet Union, all of the bourgeois countries must take it as an example.

"What does it mean to be a Communist?" - This was a completely different question. But as it is with American Communism - that is a question to be put on the agenda. At this point, the debates started. Dozenbergs said that this is why he came, to unite Latvians with the American Communists. At this point, many of the attendees started laughing. Then a piece was read from "America's Struggle" (Number 17) from the front piece, and if I'm not mistaken, I had already read it, and also a piece from "Russia's Struggle", and recommended that people subscribe to "America's Struggle", either with him or with the same Rutenbergs who is the Workers' Party secretary!

And so it fell onto the shoulders of the Collective Association, what they had done, and the plans that they had drawn up. Then a female comrade stood up, and said: why did you do that, for now we can see, what kind of people you are. Another comrade asked if they had been to the [??] pouring (scratching). Nothing good would come from such a smell, for the smell of the Workers' Party is not good. "As belief without work is without life, so a Communist's life without work is not life, but death." Lenin once said: One should not talk so much, but rather create great works. With that it is enough. I want to say so much, to warn the readers, that the 1927 American Latvian Workers' Calendar heavily features the Workerist mischief article "Three years in American Communism".

With greetings to comrades,

M. Slanter

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"Latviešu Avīzes" (Latvian Newspapers), No. 119, October 20, 1911

"Boston Latvian Life"

A good number of Latvians live in Boston, where they have founded several associations, all of which are counted under the American Socialist Party. These associations argue amongst themselves constantly, vilifying each other, fighting with one another. One of the quickest to anger in this case is the Boston Latvian Workers' Association, which often fights with the Roxbury Division #2, and their Latvian newspaper "Strādnieks", which is run by former Rīga councillor and provocateur J. Ozols, who receives 15 dollars (30 rubles) a week, who does not lift a finger to do anything at the paper. He has handed over the running of it to his favourite girlfriend, a A. Veinberga, with whom he gets along well, not considering the fact that when J. Ozols fled to America he left behind a wife and small children. But why would he care about that, here he lives it up!

All in all, the depravity and debauchery of the Reds here has taken on epic proportions in the past while. This is to the taste of leades like J. Ozols and others like him, who just squeeze out money from the workers for a variety of goals and then just waste it in various orgies with their daughters and even wives - These are the world's saviours?!?

-Holms.
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