World

Hundreds march in Latvia to honor WWII veterans who fought alongside Nazis

  • Latvian flags mark the route of a march as people carry flowers to the Freedom Monument to commemorate World War II veterans who fought in Waffen SS divisions, in Riga, Latvia, Monday, March 16, 2015.  Some protesters jeered during the annual commemoration of Latvian World War II veterans who fought with the Waffen SS divisions against Soviet forces during World War II. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov, F64 Photo Agency)

    Latvian flags mark the route of a march as people carry flowers to the Freedom Monument to commemorate World War II veterans who fought in Waffen SS divisions, in Riga, Latvia, Monday, March 16, 2015. Some protesters jeered during the annual commemoration of Latvian World War II veterans who fought with the Waffen SS divisions against Soviet forces during World War II. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov, F64 Photo Agency)  (The Associated Press)

  • People carry flowers and Latvian flags as they march to the Freedom Monument to commemorate World War II veterans who fought in Waffen SS divisions, in Riga, Latvia, Monday, March 16, 2015.  Some protesters jeered during the annual commemoration of Latvian World War II veterans who fought with the Waffen SS divisions against Soviet forces during World War II. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov, F64 Photo Agency)

    People carry flowers and Latvian flags as they march to the Freedom Monument to commemorate World War II veterans who fought in Waffen SS divisions, in Riga, Latvia, Monday, March 16, 2015. Some protesters jeered during the annual commemoration of Latvian World War II veterans who fought with the Waffen SS divisions against Soviet forces during World War II. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov, F64 Photo Agency)  (The Associated Press)

  • People lay flowers at the Freedom Monument to commemorate World War II veterans who fought in Waffen SS divisions, in Riga, Latvia, Monday, March 16, 2015.  Some protesters jeered during the annual commemoration of Latvian World War II veterans who fought with the Waffen SS divisions against Soviet forces during World War II. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov, F64 Photo Agency) (AP Photo/Roman Kosarov, F64 Photo Agency)

    People lay flowers at the Freedom Monument to commemorate World War II veterans who fought in Waffen SS divisions, in Riga, Latvia, Monday, March 16, 2015. Some protesters jeered during the annual commemoration of Latvian World War II veterans who fought with the Waffen SS divisions against Soviet forces during World War II. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov, F64 Photo Agency) (AP Photo/Roman Kosarov, F64 Photo Agency)  (The Associated Press)

About a thousand people have marched in Riga to pay tribute to Latvians who fought in German Waffen SS units against the Soviet Union during World War II.

Jeered by protesters who said the parade glorifies fascism, aging war veterans led Monday's procession to the Latvian capital's freedom monument, where they laid flowers and sang traditional songs.

The annual march has become a public relations headache for Latvian leaders.

Participants say they are simply honoring those who tried to defend Latvia's freedom. But protesters, many of them from Latvia's ethnic Russian minority, call the march an insult to the millions who fought and died in the struggle against Nazi Germany.

Latvia was invaded by both Soviet and German forces during WWII and remained occupied by the Soviet Union until 1991.