LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH

June, 2000 (2)


HEADLINES

  • ADVISER OF THE PRESIDENT ON HISTORY ISSUES VISITS ISRAEL

  • RESEARCH ON JEWISH HERITAGE IN BAUSKA CONTINUES

  • THE FIRST HANDBOOK FOR TEACHING OF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES OF HISTORY PUBLISHED

  • SABILE SYNAGOGUE RESTORATION PLAN AMONG THE PRIORITIES OF LATVIAN STATE HERITAGE PROTECTION INSPECTION


ADVISER OF THE PRESIDENT ON HISTORY ISSUES VISITS ISRAEL

June 13-18, Adviser of the President of Latvia on History Issues Dr. hist. Elga Zalite visited Israel to get acquainted with Israel's experience in the field of Holocaust research as well as to establish working relationship with Israeli experts and relevant institutions that deal with this subject. During the visit Dr. Zalite visited the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research, as well as the Yad Vashem Archives and Library, meeting Mr. Avner Shalev, Directorate Chairman, Dr. Yaacov Lozowick, Dr. Rob Rozett, Prof. Dov Levin. Other meetings included with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, Mr. Zvi Rav-Ner, Ms. Ruth Schatz, Mr. Asher Yarden, Ms. Talya Lador- Fresher, and scholars from the Institute of Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. An important aspect of the visit was meetings and discussions with individual Israeli historians an researchers.

The visit is a part of the ongoing process of Holocaust research carried out by Latvia's History Commission established in 1998 under the auspices of the President of Latvia. The main task of the Commission is to co-ordinate research on the crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Latvia under two occupations, 1940-1956. One of the four task forces established within the Commission deals specifically with the Holocaust in the territory of Latvia, 1941-1944.

RESEARCH ON JEWISH HERITAGE IN BAUSKA CONTINUES

June 6, "Jews in Bauska till the World War II" was among the themes discussed at the research conference devoted to cultural heritage and history of Bauska, a town in central Latvia. The conference organisers were the Latvian Academy of Sciences and the Bauska town council. According to Mag. hist. Aigars Urtans, the Jewish minority came to Bauska in the 18th century or even earlier. Since then a number of Jewish organisations and societies - religious and trading, charity and counselling - had spread out there. Over the 19th century the Jewish community in Bauska as a dominating national group played a significant role in economic life of the town. Bauska due to the activities of two outstanding rabbis - Joseph Eliasberg and Abraham Kook - is considered one of the centres, where the Jewish cultural enlightenment movement was started, as well as a religious centre and a place that also gave birth to ideas of Zionism. The renowned religious thinker Abraham Kook later became the first chief Rabbi of Palestine. Bauska almost entirely lost its Jewish population during the Holocaust of 1941. At present, descendants of around 79 Bauska Jewish families are living in U.K., Canada, U.S., Mexico, Israel, Australia and elsewhere. Today the exhibition "Jews in Bauska" is on display, while more initiatives on preserving of Bauska rich Jewish cultural heritage and commemorating the Holocaust are under way.

THE FIRST HANDBOOK FOR TEACHING OF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES OF HISTORY PUBLISHED

May 24, the Latvia's History Teachers' Association has published a handbook for teachers "The Controversial History" which is the first teaching aid on history issues adapted for the bilingual instruction programme. The handbook examines the ways how to better conduct discussions on historical issues that both teachers and pupils have admitted as the most difficult to be explained and understood. Among them are questions related to the World War II, national partisan movement in Latvia in the post-war period, 1944-1956, resistance movement in Latvia during the World War II, Latvians - servicemen in the Soviet or Nazi armies, introduction of the collective agricultural system in Latvia during the post-war period and others. The book is the first bilingual publication containing materials that were previously available only in one of the languages, Latvian or Russian and thus also serves as a valuable tool for integration of society of Latvia already at the school level.

SABILE SYNAGOGUE RESTORATION PLAN AMONG THE PRIORITIES OF LATVIAN STATE HERITAGE PROTECTION INSPECTION

The co-operation project between Latvia and Sweden on conservation and restoration of a number of historical buildings in Latvia was initiated in 1999 and includes the restoration of three unique historical sites - Ungurmuiza manor, Ramava manor and the Sabile synagogue in northern Latvia. Restoration of the latter is part of the activities going on in Latvia as regards preservation of the Jewish cultural heritage. Sabile synagogue was built in the 19th century and served the sacral purpose until World War II. Alongside with the synagogue restoration project works on maintenance of the Sabile Jewish cemetery are also commenced.

 

Useful links

Latvia's History Teachers' Association http://www.ltn.lv/~docdis/en/lvsa.htm