LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
September - October, 2003 (26)
- Seminar for Latvian history teachers held in Riga on new approaches to teaching about the Holocaust
- Report tabled in Cabinet of Ministers on implementation of Latvia's Action Plan on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research in 2002-3
- Fifth Bi-Annual Conference on "Jews in a Changing World" takes place in Riga
- Speech by the President of Latvia at the Conference on "Jews in a Changing World"
- President of Latvia and Speaker of the Knesset affirm the excellent relations between Latvia and Israel
- Collection of Biographies of 100 outstanding Latvian-born Jews published
- Latvian translation of The Diary of Anne Frank published
- New memorial site to Holocaust victims unveiled in Auce
Seminar for Latvian history teachers held in Riga on new approaches to teaching about the Holocaust
Dr Irit Abramski of the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Israel paid a visit to Latvia from 18-20 September. Organisation of the visit had been among the objectives included in Latvia's Action Plan on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research for2003. In Riga, Dr Abramski met with officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and paid a visit to the memorial for victims of Nazism in the forest of Bikernieki.
On 19 September, Dr Abramski chaired a seminar on new approaches to teaching about the Holocaust, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies and the Latvian History Teachers' Association. Alongside the main proceedings, seminar participants were also able to view a display of teaching materials about the Holocaust.
That same day, the Goethe Institute hosted screenings of three short films by contemporary Israeli directors: Jews in a Museum (Juden im Museum), Live and Let Live (Leben und leben lassen), and Hannah and Her Father (Hannah und ihr Papa). The event was organised jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Berlin Jewish Community.
Ministry of Education submits report on implementation of Latvia's Action Plan on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research in 2002-3
In September, Latvia's Ministry of Education and Science submitted a report to the government on implementation of Latvia's Action Plan on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, outlining the objectives attained between June 2002 and August 2003. The Plan was elaborated jointly by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001.
Fifth Bi-Annual Conference on "Jews in a Changing World" takes place in Riga
The Fifth Annual Conference on "Jews in a Changing World" took place in the Great Hall of the University of Latvia from 16-17 September 2003. The Conference assembled academics and Jewish Community and religious representatives from several countries, so as to discuss current issues facing the region from the multidimensional historical perspective of the Jewish people, along with researchers from Latvia and other interested persons. The chief organizers of the Conference were the University of Latvia Centre for Judaic Studies, the Jewish Community Centre "Alef", and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Co-chairing the Conference were Professor Herman Branover (Israel) and Professor Ruvin Ferber (Latvia), with Rabbi Natan Barkan as conference patron. The conference saw presentation of some forty papers, half by participants from Latvia, the others by guests from Israel, Lithuania, Estonia and Russia.
The Conference was officially opened on the afternoon of 16 September with speeches by President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga; Israeli Ambassador to Latvia, H.E. Gary Koren; Rector of the University of Latvia, Ivars Lacis, and the leaders of several Jewish communities. Proceedings formally concluded on 17 September with an address by the Speaker of the Knesset of Israel, Reuven Rivlin.
A collection of papers from the previous conference, which was held in November 2001, was published just prior to this year's opening.
The conference was divided up into six sessions, which examined the following themes: "Jews in the Baltic States before 1918", "Jews in the Baltic States during the interwar period (1918-1940): politics, education, culture", "The Holocaust in the Nazi-occupied Baltic States", "Jewish thought and mysticism", "Culture and the humanities", "Jews and Israel".
Speech by the President of Latvia at the Conference "Jews in a Changing World"
[..] "It gives me great pleasure to see that the conferences on "Jews in a Changing World" have become a regular and internationally recognised feature on Riga's events calendar in a relatively short space of time, attracting participants from both near and far away. Such a Forum as this facilitates the exchange of information between the Jewish community and other ethnic groups in Latvia, and allows us to better understand the contribution of this minority community to our country's cultural, scientific, and economic life, as well as how it has been able to integrate into society while at the same time preserving its identity.
This international conference, organized by the Riga Jewish Community, religious congregations, the Latvian Academy of Sciences, the University of Latvia and a host of other institutions, helps to establish Latvia's identity in the world at large.
It strengthens the conviction of the world community that Latvia today is a democratic, open, tolerant and European country, where all minorities, including Jews, may freely discuss their problems and work towards preserving and further developing their own distinct cultures.
It also covers an interesting range of issues - the history of Jews in both Latvia and the Baltic States as a whole, culture, philosophy, mysticism, and the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Latvia. Owing to the diversity of topics they cover, these Conferences have sparked interest both in Latvia and overseas." [..]
President of Latvia and Speaker of the Knesset affirm the excellent relations between Latvia and Israel
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga met with Speaker of the Knesset of Israel Reuven Rivlin on 19 September at Riga Castle. Both officials highlighted the excellent relations between their countries, which are also marked by exchanges of high-level visits. The Speaker of the Knesset expressed gratitude for the good relations between the state and the Jewish community in Latvia, and noted that Israel is interested in establishing closer links with the Baltic State in areas such as high technology and agriculture.
Discussing the public mood in the lead-up to Latvia's EU accession referendum, Mr Rivlin stressed the importance of the peace, security and stability aspects of the European Union in a global context, and expressed the hope that Latvia would become part of its zone of security and common values. "We hope that your wish will come true, and that Latvia will vote "Yes"," said Mr Rivlin to the President. Dr Vike-Freiberga said that at many times in its history it had not been possible for Latvia to even contemplate what path it had wanted to take, or what dream to strive for. "Now the people of Latvia have the possibility to think about their future."
Collection of Biographies of 100 outstanding Latvian-born Jews published
The presentation of the illustrated album Outstanding Jewish Personalities of Latvia took place on 12 September 2003 at the US Embassy in Riga. The book has been published at the initiative of the Guntis Ulmanis Foundation, with the support of the US Public Relations Department and funding from the US government's Democracy Programme. The book was produced in cooperation with the Judaic Studies Centre of the University of Latvia and the museum Jews in Latvia.
This informative publication is available in Latvian, Russian and English.
Latvian translation of The Diary of Anne Frank published
On 5 September, a Latvian translation of The Diary of Anne Frank, comprised of a series of letters by Anne Frank written between 12 June 1942 and 1 August 1944, appeared in Latvian bookstores. The book was published with the support of the Embassies of the Netherlands, Germany and the United States, and the Latvian Cultural Capital Foundation. Translators from the original Dutch were Ilze Lindenberga, Martins Erminass and Katarina Hartgers.
New memorial site to Holocaust victims unveiled in Auce
At 2 p.m. on 9 October 2003 in the forest of Putni near Auce, a memorial site will be unveiled to the Jews of Auce murdered during the Holocaust. Jewish memorial sites are currently being registered in Latvia, and the Riga Jewish Community, along with Lord Janner of Braunstone QC, Honorary Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress and Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, have decided to place commemorative plaques at these locations, so that such crimes against humanity might never be repeated.
This is the first memorial site to be unveiled as part of the Baltic Mass Graves Project. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga is patron of the project in Latvia, which aims to determine the location of Jewish mass graves in all three Baltic States.
On 11 July 1941, 100 Jewish residents of Auce, both adults and children, were murdered not far from the outskirts of the town, in the forest of Putni, now located within the territory of the Lielauce local government. The memorial plaque placed at the site bears the inscription: "It was here on 11 July 1941 that Nazi occupation forces and their local sympathisers slaughtered around 100 residents of Auce simply because they were Jews. Remember, so that this never happens again."
Attending the unveiling ceremony will be representatives from the Riga Jewish Community; Lord Janner; the US, Russian, British, Israeli, German and other ambassadors, senior Latvian officials and government ministers, rabbis, and heads of the Auce and Lielauce local governments.
The Riga Jewish Community expresses gratitude to the Auce and Lielauce local governments for their support during implementation of the project.
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Newsletter "Latvia's History: Education, Remembrance, Research" is a compilation of press releases and news reports drawn from the mass media and official sources.