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Īle Bunker and Memorial Site of National Partisans
The restored bunker of national partisans at Īle, officially consecrated on 17 March 2009, is not only a tribute to national partisans but also a visitor attraction which tells us about a tragic period in the history of Latvia.
In 1948 in the Īle forests, partisans from a joint Latvian – Lithuanian group built this bunker, the largest in the Baltic states, in order to continue their resistance against the Soviet power. The group of 27 men was led by a young commander Kārlis Krauja (real name – Visvaldis Brizga). On 17 March 1949, twenty-four partisans fought their final battle against 760-strong troops of the Ministry of State Security (or the Cheka).
Fifteen partisans were killed, nine taken prisoner and deported to Siberia together with their supporters.
In 1992, the National Guard, members of the Daugavas Vanagi veterans' organisation, and patriotic organisations dug up the demolished bunker, collected the bones of the fallen guerilla fighters, and buried those in the Virkus cemetery in Dobele. A white cross, a memorial stone and a granite stela were placed at the bunker. As early as in mid-1990s, the contours of the bunker were marked and reinforced by internal walls, but only in 2009, on the 60th anniversary of the battle, the site was restored in its original form. Such had been the wish of the two surviving partisans Modris Zihmanis and Alfons Kalniņš, and a former guerilla contact person, head of the Liepāja Section of National Partisans, Biruta Rodoviča. A number of supporters and volunteers helped their wish come true. The interior of the hideout has a stove, a table, narrow bonks on which partisans used to sleep.