LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
May-June, 2002 (21)
- The President of Latvia participates in the International conference Christians and Jews in Riga
- Latvia's History Commission accepts two new projects
- The President of Latvia: "It is essential to draw public attention to the results of the research carried out by Latvia's History Commission abroad"
- International Conference "Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States 1944–1959: Policies and their Consequences" held in Riga
The President of Latvia participates in the International conference Christians and Jews in Riga
On the 26th – 30th of May 2002 an international conference Christians and Jews organised by the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), was held in Riga. Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the President of the Republic of Latvia, attended the conference. In her opening speech the President touched upon the issues of Jewish history in Latvia and turned to current efforts in the area of research, remembrance and education about Latvian Jewry. The President pointed out that three of the world's great religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam have much more in common than many people might think. Therefore it is a sad paradox of history that a religious conviction, which by definition should nurture and foster our highest humanity, has often been invoked as the reason for violent conflict. "[..] such fundamental tenets as the respect for human life are shared by practically all of the world's great religions, and many cultures across the planet have recognized love, compassion, and respect for one's fellow human beings as fundamental virtues."
Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga expressed the hope that such international events as conferences will promote mutual understanding and celebration of the world's plurality.
The President of Latvia presented the prestigious Sir Sigmund Sternberg Award to the International Movement for Economic and Social Justice and Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum (who did not participate in the awarding ceremony). The ICCJ prize is awarded for a continuous intellectual contribution promoting understanding between religions among a wider society.
During the conference the participants studied the experience of Jews in the Baltic States, the development of religions in the Baltic States in the post-communist era, the relations among the religions after the 11th September terrorist attacks in the United States, as well as challenges to the society and religions brought forth by globalisation. They also discussed the diversity of Christianity and its impact on refugees and repatriates, as well as a quest for a just society.
The conference was co-organised by the Council of Jews and Christians of Latvia, a member of the ICCJ. The ICCJ embraces 36 national member organisations from 32 countries. The organisation tackles issues of human rights and human dignity rooted deeply in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Through its annual conferences and other consultations, the ICCJ offers a forum where people of different religious backgrounds explore current cross-national and religious issues enabling a face-to-face exchange of experience and expertise.
Among the participants of the conference were Prof Abrams Kleckins, publicist, Archbishop Elmars Ernests Rozitis, Dr Juris Saulītis, Prof Leons Dribins, historian, author of many researches of the Jewish history, from Riga, Prof Stefan Schreiner from Germany, Rabbi Ehud Bandle from Jerusalem and Prof John T. Pawlikowski.
Full text of the Address by H. E. Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, President of Latvia, at the conference of the International Council of Christians and Jews, Riga, 26 May 2002: www.mfa.gov.lv/en/?id=2765
Latvia's History Commission accepts two new projects
On the 12th of June a regular session of the History Commission of Latvia was held in Riga. The issues of the history research on the agenda for the session included the creation of a unified, computerised database of the inhabitants of Latvia who were subject to repressions under the occupational regimes of the 20th century. The database would be of great use to historians researching the Soviet and Nazi occupation periods and would put an end to the speculations and bring forth clarity regarding the issue of the exact number of repressed persons. Mrs Daina Klavina, Director of the State Archives of Latvia was appointed a coordinator of this project.
The second project envisages publishing of the Commission's latest research materials on the Nazi and Soviet occupational policies in Latvia in English in order to acquaint the historians at the research centres of Eastern Europe with the Latvian contribution. This publication would provide objective information on the history of the 20th century in Latvia and help to wipe away the myths about the events that took place during and after World War II, as well as provide exact information on the number of repressed persons and so far other internationally unknown facts. The coordinator of the project is Prof Erwin Oberlander from Germany.
The President of Latvia: "It is essential to draw public attention to the results of the research carried out by Latvia's History Commission abroad"
Participating at the opening of the regular session of the Commission Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga expressed conviction that it is highly important to draw the attention of the broader public to the work of the Commission abroad. This step would promote a more objective understanding of the history of Latvia, unveil the myths fabricated by the Nazi and Communist propaganda, and diminish misinformation about Latvia in general. "I have always stressed the fact that the History Commission has maintained a principle of addressing the most complicated and sensitive issues of the 20th century history, including the policies of the Soviet and Nazi occupational regimes, crimes against humanity and the Holocaust fairly and openly. I am glad that the Commission is actively co-operating with schools and history teachers, since only in this way the research gain their public value, the history becomes alive and understandable to the future generations."
The President underlined that Commission's international members could significantly contribute in this work of raising awareness about Latvia and its history since they are able to provide substantial information about the present publications and research of the historians of Latvia. "I am also convinced that a publication of the research works of Latvian historians in English, as well as active co-operation of Latvian historians with their colleagues at the research centres of Europe would facilitate this task".
International Conference "Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States 1944–1959: Policies and their Consequences" held in Riga
On the 13th -14th of June the international conference "Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States1944–1959: Policies and their Consequences", organised by Latvia's History Commission took place in Riga. Thirty-five papers were presented by historians, law specialists, economists, demographers and other scholars from six states (Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Sweden). Conference papers dealt with the political power structure of the USSR occupation regime and various aspects of the regime's politics and policies as applied to the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) after the World War II and the consequences of these politics and policies.
The conference participants analysed the occupation regime's structure and functioning, as well as problems concerning research methods, terminology and sources.
The repressive economic, political, cultural, educational and religious policies of the Communist (Soviet) occupation regime in the Baltic States were also addressed. Armed and unarmed resistance to the regime, as well as the attitude of the displaced Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians in the West toward the regime were the topics of several papers.
The presentations and discussions also pointed to future research needs and desiderata of each of the Baltic States and the Baltic region in general.
Summary of Conclusions of the International Conference "Soviet Occupation Regime in the Baltic States 1944–1959: Policies and their Consequences", 13 and 14 June 2002 : http://www.am.gov.lv/en/?id=4671
History Commission of Latvia
Chairman: Professor Andris Caune
Address: c/o History Institute of Latvia
1 Akademijas lauk., Riga, LV 1050, Latvia
Tel.: (+371) 7 225 948; Fax: (+371) 7 225 044
Adviser to the President of Latvia on the History Commission Issues
Dr. habil. hist. Assoc. Professor Antonijs Zunda
Chancery of the President,
3 Pils lauk., Riga, LV 1900, Latvia
Tel.: (+371) 7 092 109; Fax: (+371) 7 325 800