Pauls Kalnins 

(1872-1945)

Speaker of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Saeima. Pauls Kalniņš was born on 3 April 1872 in Vilce. Upon finishing the local primary school, he attended the Liepaja Gymnasium; afterwards he studied natural sciences in Moscow. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at Tartu University in 1898. He worked as a physician in Tukums, Jelgava and Riga. He became a member of the editorial board of the newspaper Dienas Lapa (The Daily Paper) in 1897. Together with other members of the Jaunā strāva (New Current) movement, he was arrested and expelled from Latvia. In 1901, Pauls Kalniņš returned to Jelgava and headed the Social Democrats group in Kurzeme. He participated in the revolution of 1905.

Pauls Kalniņš lived in exile in Switzerland from 1903 to 1906. He worked as a physician in Jūrmala from 1906 to 1915. He was a member of the editorial boards of several social democratic newspapers and contributed articles to those publications.

Pauls Kalniņš was an army surgeon during World War I. He became a member of the Riga Workers’ Deputy Council in 1917 and participated in the founding of the Democratic Bloc. Subsequently he became a member of the People’s Council, a member of the Constitutional Assembly, and a member of all the convocations of the pre-war Saeima. After the resignation of Frīdrihs Vesmanis on 20 March 1925, Pauls Kalniņš was elected the Speaker of the Saeima.

He was the chairman of the Central Committee of the Social Democratic Party from 1918 to 1922; he was the chairman of the Culture Foundation from 1925 to 1934. After the 15 May 1934 coup, Pauls Kalniņš spent four months in the Riga Central Prison and under house arrest. From 1942 to 1944 he was a member of the underground Central Committee of the social democrats. Pauls Kalniņš was sent as a delegate to Sweden in 1944, but during the passage in the Baltic Sea he was arrested and taken to Germany. He died in Austria. 

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