LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
1 - 15 May, 2000 (1)
For each nation, it is a sacred duty to know its own history. We, too, must arrive at a passionless and wellgrounded assessment of our history as a nation, and include the most bitter pages of that history as well. Only by acting in this manner can we prevent manifestations of totalitarianism, extremism, intolerance and hatred. With one voice, the Latvian nation condemns such phenomena as we likewise condemn both neo-Nazism and neo-Stalinism.
(From the Statement of the President of Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga on Commemorating the Victims of the Second World War and the Triumph over Nazism, May 8, 2000.)
Remembrance Ceremony of Holocaust Victims Held in Riga
May 2, 2000 - the remembrance ceremony of Holocaust victims was held in the Rumbula Memorial in Riga. The event was organised by the Embassy of Israel to Latvia, the Council of Latvian Jewish Communities and Congregations, Riga Jewish High School named after S. Dubnov and the Jewish Agency "Sohnut". The Foreign Minister of Latvia Mr. Indulis Berzins, representatives of diplomatic corps and Latvia's History Commission took part in the ceremony.
Exhibition on Jewish Girl's Experience During the Holocaust Opens in the Capital of Latvia
May 5, 2000 - the exhibition "Anne Frank - A Message for Today" was opened in the Museum of War in Riga. The exhibition is organised in conjunction with the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. The Jewish girl Anne Frank left a diary that later became world-famous. In the diary, Frank describes 25 months that her family spent hiding in a house in Amsterdam during World War II. In 1944, Frank's family was arrested. Anne was sent to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and then to Bergen-Belsen, where she died in 1945, one month before the prisoners were set free.
Frank's diary was made public in 1948 and has been read by millions of people all around the world since then. A new Latvian translation of the diary by Amanda Aizpuriete is now available, with the previous one published in the early 1960s. The Anne Frank exhibition has been shown since October 1996 in already 30 countries, promoting both tolerance and democracy. The exhibition has been visited by already 7 million people, almost half of them youths and school children. The visitors learn about the history of the Holocaust, and are challenged to think about the significance of such concepts as tolerance and human rights. A part of the exhibition are guided tours, courses for teachers, a cultural programme, and educational materials. The exhibition will later be shown in the Latvian towns Daugavpils, Liepaja, Valka, Jelgava, Rezekne and Talsi.
Latvia and Israel Discuss Holocaust Research and Co-operation in Investigation of the Nazi War Crimes
May 6 - 8, 2000 - bilateralpolitical consultations between Latvia and Israel took place in Jerusalem. The delegation of Latvia was headed by the State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Mr. Maris Riekstins. The delegation of Israel was headed by the Deputy Director General for the Central and Eastern European matters of the Foreign Ministry Mr. Simon Stein.
During the political consultations a wide range of bilateral issues were discussed, including the expansion of the Latvian-Israeli legal basis, activation of co-operation in the field of economics, as well as culture and education. Both sides paid attention to the issue of the Holocaust research, especially emphasising the work of Latvia's History Commission in this area and concrete projects carried out in the field of education of society. The issues related to the co-operation in investigation of the Nazi war crimes were touched upon.
Commemoration Day for the Victims of the World War II and Nazi Defeat Marked in Latvia
May 8, 2000 - on the Commemoration Day for the Victims of the World War II and Nazi Defeat the ceremony of laying flowers at the Monument of Freedom in Riga took place. The ceremony was attended by the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Foreign Minister and Head of Riga City Council. After the ceremony at the Monument of Freedom the Foreign Minister and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps laid flowers at the last resting places of soldiers killed during the Second World War in the Cemetery of the Red Army Soldiers, the Cemetery of the German Prisoners of the World War II and the New Jewish Cemetery.
Monument for the Latvian Rescuers of Jews to Be Erected in Riga
May 10, 2000 - Riga City Council Monument Board supported the suggestion by Latvia's History Commission to build a monument for the Latvian rescuer of Jews Zanis Lipke and other Latvians, who helped Jews during the Holocaust. The Urban Development Department was ordered to organise an international tender for production of the monument. The Monument Board resolved that Lipke had made a unique effort at risk of his own life and lives of his relatives. At present two memorial plaques dedicated to Lipke are already displayed in Riga in the location of the former concentration camp and at the building where Lipke spent 50 years of his life.
2000 is the centenary for Zanis Lipke, who saved several dozen Jews during the World War II. Lipke was born on February 2, 1900, and died May 14, 1987. For his heroic deeds Lipke has been granted the title of the Righteous Among the Nations. The inscription on the medal awarded to Lipke by the State of Israel reads: "He Who Saved One Human Life, Saved All The World."
New Latvian Prosecutor General: Investigation of the Crimes Committed During the World War II a Priority in the Work of the Prosecutor General's Office
May 11, 2000 - the new Latvian Prosecutor General Mr. Janis Maizitis was confirmed by the Latvian Parliament to the office. According to Mr. Janis Maizitis the cases investigating crimes committed during the World War II are a priority in the work of the Prosecutor General's Office. The Prosecutor General's Office is making and will continue to make all efforts to find evidence of crimes committed during the World War II and to examine them under statutory procedures.
Latvian President Becomes Honorary Member of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
May 15, 2000 - Latvian President Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga in New York received an award from the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for contribution to 20th century history studies and the work of Latvia's History Commission. Dr. Vike-Freiberga was admitted as the honorary member of the fund. At the award presentation ceremony the Latvian President said she was very honoured. "Wallenberg has been a compass of humanity in the storm of inhumanity," the President noted. The Wallenberg Foundation that operates in the United States is named after Swedish businessman Raoul Wallenberg, who, being on diplomatic service in Hungary in the World War II, saved about 100 000 Jews.
Latvian President: Latvia is Ready to Study and Speak about Bitter Issues of Latvia's History and Open for Productive Dialogue on Impartial Studies of the History
May 15, 2000 - Latvian President Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga in New York met with the American Jewish Committee representatives and discussed vital issues of the 20th century history research and history teaching at schools. The President stressed that Latvia is ready to study and speak about bitter issues of Latvia's history, Latvia is open for productive dialogue on impartial studies of the history. The President of State noted that Latvia has taken up active studies of historical issues, which have been promoted by activities of the History Commission.
Dr. Vike-Freiberga expressed her hope that the Commission would also shed light on the thriving pre-war Jewish community and appealed to "people of Latvian - Jewish origin to come forward with their histories, records and photos to help us complete our picture of Jewish history in Latvia". Steven Springfield, president of the Jewish Survivors of Latvia and the independent observer of Latvia's History Commission also participated in the American Jewish Committee meeting.