LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
January - May 2007 (37)
- Foreign Minister on his first official visit to Israel; Latvia commended for its achievements in Holocaust research
- Memorial plaque unveiled in Aizpute in memory of Jews murdered in 1941
- Presentation of the book "A History of the Jewish People"
From 19 to 22 February 2007, Foreign Minister Dr. Artis Pabriks was on an official visit to Israel. This was the first official visit by a Latvian Foreign Minister to Israel. On 6 January 2007, Latvia and Israel marked the 15th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
As part of the visit, the Minister met with the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and the Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Mr Shimon Peres; the Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ms Tzipi Livni, and visited the Israeli Knesset (parliament). On 19 February, Minister Pabriks met with the Vice-Premier and Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee Regions, Shimon Peres, and discussed the Middle East peace process. The Ministers also discussed the outcomes of the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abas. Minister Pabriks also discussed this visit by telephone with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones.
Minister Pabriks extended a letter from Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga to Mr Peres, inviting him to attend the official unveiling on 4 July this year, of the memorial to Zanis Lipke and other rescuers of Jewish people during World War II.
Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks, meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, accepted a commendation on behalf of Latvia for its achievements in Holocaust research in Latvia. The Israeli Foreign Minister also praised the participation by Latvian experts in the Yad Vashem courses and seminars, and noted Latvia's work in the elimination of anti-Semitism.
During the official visit to Israel, Minister Pabriks also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and, meeting with the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev, discussed future opportunities for co-operation in Holocaust commemoration, recollection and education.
Mr Shalev praised the international conference Holocaust: Remembrance and Lessons, held in Riga on 4-5 July 2006, and which was co-organised by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The officials discussed the issue of possible tri-partite co-operation, for which the best format for joint project implementation could be a working group for international co-operation on Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Mr Shalev invited Latvian teachers' groups to participate in the Yad Vashem seminars.
The Latvian Foreign Minister also visited the Israeli Parliament and attended the exhibition "Latvia's children draw the old synagogues", in the Jewish Cultural Heritage Centre in Jerusalem. The aim of the exhibition is to promote an understanding of the complex historical issues in the histories of both countries.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (19.-22.02.2007)
Memorial plaque unveiled in Aizpute in memory of Jews murdered in 1941
On 13 May 2007, a memorial plaque was unveiled at the site of the former synagogue, now the community arts centre in Aizpute in the district of Liepaja, to remember the more than 300 individuals who departed on their final journey from this house in the late autumn of 1941. They were murdered only because they were Jews.
The Aizpute regional research museum - tourist information centre - in co-operation with Vladimir Bane, a representative of the Liepaja Jewish community, and David Jakobson, a descendant of an Aizpute Jewish family - the Feldmans - realised the idea of creating the plaque. It was financed by the City Council of Aizpute and by Mr. Jakobson.
At present two "open books" are being created which will contain the names, surnames, ages, and last known places of residence of members of the Jewish families that perished.
One copy of the book will be retained by the community centre, the other by the town's regional research museum. These memorial books will contain supplemental pages where descendants of families who survived the Holocaust will be able to record previously unknown information about those who perished.
Taking part in the ceremony of unveiling the plaque were representatives of the Liepaja Jewish community, David Jakobson and his wife, and Ivars Silars, the former Latvian Ambassador to Israel.
Presentation of the book "A History of the Jewish People"
On 30 May 2007, at the Israeli Embassy in Latvia, the publishing house "Nordik" together with the Council of Latvia's Jewish congregations and communities, presented a core study by Israeli scholars entitled "A History of the Jewish People, edited in its Latvian translation by Shmuel Ettinger. Among the authors and editors of "A History of the Jewish People" are leading historians and professors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The voluminous work presents a survey of the history of Jewish people starting from Biblical times, touching upon events in Canaan (ancient Palestine), and recounts the origins and development of the Jewish culture. It discusses events in the eras of the Second Temple and the Talmud, and provides insights into Jewish life in the Middle Ages and in more recent times. The final chapter in the book describes contemporary events, including the period after World War I and the accession to power of the Nazis. There is a discussion of the Holocaust which European Jews suffered in World War II, and a recounting of the proclamation of the State of Israel and the development of the modern state after its establishment.
Thanks to the combined efforts of all the parties involved, this survey of the history of the Jewish people has become available to the Latvian reader. There is good reason to hope that this book will promote a better understanding of the Jewish people among the people of Latvia, and that it will encourage the attainment of a more profound knowledge of the history of this nation.
Newsletter "Latvia's History: Education, Remembrance, Research" is a compilation of press releases and news reports drawn from the media and official sources.