LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
January – April 2005 (30)
- The President of Latvia attends international forum "Let My People Live"
- Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs participates in events commemorating Nazi victims
- A memorial plaque would testify on the tragedy of Limbazi Jews
- Memorial of international importance to be built on the Skede coast
- Latvian Minister of Education and Science visits Israel
- Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren meets with the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia
- Latvian awarded a medal "Righteous Among the Nations" for saving Jews during World War II
- A memorial to remember the Nazi victims to be erected in the grounds of the former concentration camp "Kaiserwald"
- Museum of Jews and the Holocaust to open in Old Riga
- Inauguration of the book "History of Latvia: the 20th century"
- Collected articles by the Latvian Historians Commission "Totalitarian Occupation Regimes in Latvia 1940-1964" published
- Latvian Historians Commission issues a new book in English: "The Hidden and Forbidden History of Latvia under the Soviet and Nazi Occupations, 1940-1991"
- Latvian War Museum organises international scientific conference "Latvia during World War II"
- The President of Latvia opens EUROCLIO conference in Riga
- Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs opens an international conference on historical issues in Copenhagen
- Legal aspects of the Hitler-Stalin pact brought forward at a forum
The President of Latvia attends international forum "Let My People Live"
Leaders of many countries gathered in Poland to participate in the international forum "Let my people live" held in the Julius Slowacki Theatre to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
The President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga held informal meetings with leaders of several countries when attending the 60th anniversary event of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. During the meeting with the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko, President Freiberga stressed that Latvia, along with the other new European Union member states, for almost a year already was a full member of European values, welfare and security space and that Latvia was interested in passing on its experience of the reform implementation and strengthening of European and democratic values to Ukraine.
During the event the President of Latvia also spoke with the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso who told the President that he deeply understood the complicated history of the Baltic States in the previous century as well as the consequences that World War II had on Latvia. During the reception the President of Latvia presented the book "History of Latvia. 20th century" to the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. She told Vladimir Putin that a dialogue was necessary between both parties about historical issues to bring the understanding of both countries closer. The President also met the President of Ireland Mary McAleese and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri.
President's Chancery (27.01.2005)
Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs participates in events commemorating Nazi victims
On 27 January 2005 on the 60th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz, Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Artis Pabriks, participated in several events held in commemoration of Nazi victims.
The Minister invited representatives of the diplomatic corps residing in Latvia to attend the memorial site of Salaspils and commemorate, together with representatives of the Latvian Jewish communities and ambassadors accredited in Latvia, the victims of the mass tragedy with a moment of silence. Mr Pabriks also participated in an event held in commemoration of Nazi victims at Rumbula memorial site at the invitation of representatives of the Latvian Jewish Community.
On behalf of the Latvian nation, Minster of Foreign Affairs Artis Pabriks apologized to the victims of the Holocaust and to those who remember them for the inability to protect their lives.
"Today we stand at the massacre site," Pabriks said to those present. "We do not distinguish the victims of Nazism by nationality – regardless if they were Jewish, Latvian, or Russian – every person's memory is valuable because their life cannot be brought back," said the Minister.
"Before this event, we gathered for a memorial service in Salaspils to understand what is happening and what must be done to ensure that history does not return. And I must apologize to the deceased and to their living relatives that our nation could not protect them back then. If we had been able to do so, then these memorial stones would not be here; but our nation was occupied, and from now until eternity we must do everything not to allow a tragedy like this to be repeated," said Pabriks.
German Ambassador Eckart Herold reminded those present that the number of victims of Nazism is measurable in "unimaginable quantities" and that a "horrific ideology with no respect for the human being" is responsible for these tragic pages in the history of man. The German ambassador stressed that everything must be done "to snatch the dead from anonymity and give each person who fell to the Nazi's hand their dignity back. We must do everything possible so that today we could recognize the early signs of this ideology – fanaticism and intolerance – so as to not allow racism, anti-Semitism, or xenophobia to spread through the world," said Herold.
Polish Ambassador Tadeusz Fiszbach recognized the importance of this day for his people because, not counting Germany, the largest Nazi death camps during World War II were located in Polish territory - Oswiecim, Maidanek, and others.
Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren thanked Pabriks for his initiative in commemorating on this day the Jewish people murdered by the Nazis, emphasizing that at this very time the Israeli and Latvian presidents are in Auschwitz with other world leaders at a memorial event. Historian and director of the museum "Jews in Latvia" Margers Vestermans also addressed the audience, as well as various Rabbis of Jewish congregations who concluded the event with an invitation for all present to pray in memory of the deceased.
The memorial ensemble in honour of Nazi victims in Rumbula was unveiled in November 2002. On November 30 and December 8, 1941 in the forest at Rumbula, the Nazis killed over 25,000 Jews. Rumbula is one of the largest Jewish mass execution places in Europe.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (26.01.2005)
A memorial plaque would testify on the tragedy of Limbazi Jews
You live as long as the memory of you is alive. Let this always be so, wished the organisers unveiling the Jewish memorial plaque. On 3 February, a memorial plaque in memory of the Jews murdered in the Limbazi district was unveiled on the Riga-Ragana road side in the presence of Deputy Chairman of the Latvian Jewish Community, Benjamin Kajen, staff of the museum "Jews in Latvia", embassy of Israel to Latvia, leaders of the Limbazi city and parish, schoolchildren and teachers from the local Ladezers school and representatives from Riga. On unveiling the plaque, those present remembered the July of 1941 when several local Jewish families were killed in the neighbouring woods. Identification of the Jewish mass graveyards and cemeteries was initiated by the Latvian Historians Commission in 2002. To date several memorials and plaques have been erected in Auce, Preili, Liepaja and elsewhere in Latvia.
Aigars Urtans, a historian who had carried out research on the fate of the Jews of the Vidzeme region based on the information collected and summarised by the Limbazi Museum, said the Holocaust was an enormous crime that should never be forgotten and imputed solely to separate nations. In his address to the young people, the chief speaker of the event, Benjamin Kajen, asked to understand the real cause of these tragedies reminding of the Nazism and fascist ideologies and underlined that on no account should Latvia go through such black days of total pain and shame ever again.
Auseklis, Limbazi regional newspaper (05.02.2005)
Memorial of international importance to be built on the Skede coast
On 10 March, the Open Public Foundation Liepaja Jewish Heritage held a presentation of the Skede memorial project in the premises of the Riga Jewish Community house. The Foundation was established in October 2004 as initiated by George Schwab, Sergej Zaharjin and Iliana Ivanova from Liepaja and Steven Springfield and Ilya Segal from Riga with the purpose of erecting a memorial of international importance in memory of about 7000 Liepaja Jews who died on the Skede coast as a result of the Holocaust.
The opening of the memorial is due on 3 June 2005. The memorial will be an architectural, sculptural and environmental ensemble built in line with the Judaism memorial-building traditions. Following a tender, the memorial project by Raimonds Gabalins, an artist from Liepaja, was selected as the best. The artist has based his project on an Jewish mourner's prayer or kaddish. The exterior of the memorial resembles a menorah, whose form has allowed the design of the memorial to look like a wall, maze and ruins of an ancient Eastern culture simultaneously; a walk through the memorial arouses a meditative mood. The maze will be built up from several layers of boulder stones. The memorial will be about 15,000 square metres large.
The memorial is also supported by the Liepaja City Council, which passed the order to start the elaboration of a detailed plan of the territory of the Skede coastline. During the meeting on the 12 April, the infrastructure and building of the memorial was also approved by the Latvian government.
The Open Public Foundation-Liepaja Jewish Heritage (10.03.2005)
The Cabinet of Ministers (12.04.2005)
Latvian Minister of Education and Science visits Israel
From 14 to 18 March 2005, the Latvian Minister of Education and Science, Ina Druviete, was on a visit to Israel, where she participated in the official opening of the new complex of buildings of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Museum and meeting Israeli officials. The Latvian delegation included the Latvian Ambassador to Israel, Karlis Eihenbaums.
On 14 March, Ina Druviete had a meeting with representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports Ms Limor Livnat and discussed the prospects for developing bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Israel. Ms Druviete also met the Israeli Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Nathan Sharansky, and the Chairperson of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs of the Knesset, Colette Avital. Ms Druviete and Latvia's delegation were the special guests at the lunch, hosted by the American Jewish Committee.
On 15 March, the Minister visited the Jewish Language Training Centre Ezion, where Ms Druviete got acquainted with the language training process for the new immigrants.
On 15 March, Ina Druviete participated in the opening ceremony of the new complex of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and delivered an address to the special assembly of Yad Vashem "Remembering the Past, Shaping the Future" on 16 March. In her speech, the Minister emphasized the importance of history teaching, especially about the Holocaust, thus safeguarding the world from experiencing a tragedy of this kind again.
On the same day, 16 March, the Minister had a meeting with representatives of the Israeli non-governmental education and training organisation World ORT. The Minister was acquainted with the organisation's work in Israel and the world, and the possible involvement of World ORT in technological education projects in Latvia was discussed.
On 17 March, Ms Druviete met the representatives of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (17.03.2004)
Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren meets with the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia
Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren met on 30 March with the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, Prof Ina Druviete. Minister Druviete visited Israel recently where she represented the Government of Latvia at the official opening of the new museum of the Yad Vashem, Holocaust Heroes' and Martyrs' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem and met with Israeli officials, including her counterpart, Minister Limor Livnat.
During their meeting Ambassador Koren and Minister Druviete discussed possible projects of cooperation and experience sharing between the Republic of Latvia and the State of Israel in the field of education and science. Technological education and vocational training will be considered for possible inclusion in the next executive programme for the implementation of the Agreement between the Governments of Israel and Latvia on Cultural, Scientific and Educational Cooperation. The Israeli Ambassador stressed the great importance of education of young people with regard to the Holocaust and reiterated Israel's proposal to host Latvian teachers of history in the annual courses on teaching about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism offered by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Embassy of the State of Israel to Latvia (30.03.2005)
Latvian awarded a medal "Righteous Among the Nations" for saving Jews during World War II
To honour Anna Alma Pole, who saved several Jews during World War II, the Ambassador of Israel to Latvia, Gary Koren, conferred the medal of Yad Vashem memorial "Righteous Among the Nations" on her grandchildren Raimonds Kesteris and Inara Strumpe.
During World War II, Anna Alma Pole saved seven Jews allowing them to hide in the cellar of her house in Riga. The woman's daughter Margarita Kestere undertook to provide food; each day, she used to bring it over from across the River Daugava in a children's pram. Based on the statement of Margarita Kestere, Anna Alma Pole was presented the award after her death. In 1944, someone had reported on Anna Alma Pole to the German occupation institutions for helping the Jews to hide, and on 25 August the house was searched over. During the search, six Jews were killed, and Anna Alma Pole was arrested. 28 August was the last time Margarita Kestere saw her mother alive.
According to the Head of the Jewish Museum, Margers Vestermanis, the total of 513 cases have been recorded with regard to saving Jews in Latvia, but the "Righteous Among the Nations" award has been presented 135 times.
A memorial to remember the Nazi victims to be erected in the grounds of the former concentration camp "Kaiserwald"
A new memorial to Nazi victims is to be opened by the end of June in Riga, Meza Boulevard, on the grounds of the former Nazi concentration camp "Kaiserwald". In 1943-1944, the last year of the Nazi occupation, thousands of Jews from Latvia, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and Hungary were brought to the concentration camp, kept there in extremely bad conditions and killed.
In autumn of 2004, the Embassy of Germany organised a tender on the new memorial in conjunction with the Riga City Council and selected the project by Solveiga Vasiljeva as best from the total of 18 projects submitted by various artists, designers and architects. The monument will consist of an eight metres high tree made of metal and transparent polymer protruding from a large pit. The tree will symbolize striving toward the sky, away from the gloomy land where the victims were tortured.
Rigas Balss (26.04.2005)
Museum of Jews and the Holocaust to open in Old Riga
On 28 April, Minister of Culture, Helena Demakova, and Chairman of the Latvian Council of Jewish Parishes and Communities, Arkadijs Suharenko, signed an agreement stipulating that the property on 5 Alksnaju Street would be rented to the Council to allow for the establishment of the Museum of Jews and the Holocaust.
By signing the agreement the Latvian Council of Jewish Parishes and Communities has undertaken to refurbish the building investing no less than Ls 500,000 in its reconstruction. "Renting of a state-owned property allowing for the establishment of a museum on the one side, and the determination of the Council to invest into the reconstruction of the building on the other side, is an excellent example of public and private co-operation in the area of culture," noted Helena Demakova.
On signing the agreement, the Minister of Culture emphasised that the decision to rent a state-owned building to open the museum was very well motivated and considered. "This is a motivated gesture on the part of Latvia. Undeserved reproaches have been addressed at the state every now and then with regard to minority issues, although it is very often that groups of people calling themselves a minority have not historically lived here. The Jews are a historically well-rooted minority in Latvia and one should remember not only the trying history and the Holocaust, but also praise the bright pages of the history, and this is the main task before the museum," said the Minister.
Arkadijs Suharenko on his part underlined that the establishment of the museum in the premises of 5 Alksnaju Street building was of special importance to the Jewish community in Latvia, as it was part of the synagogue. "The Jewish community should be part of this country; it strives to earn respect through its action. The establishment of the Museum of Jews and the Holocaust is one of such actions," said Mr Suharenko.
The agreement will be effective until 1 January 2035. The property rights related to the property located on 5 Alksnaju Street have been assigned to the Republic of Latvia represented by the Ministry of Culture.
Ministry of Culture (28.04.2005)
Inauguration of the book "History of Latvia: the 20th century"
Excerpts from the address by the President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, at the opening ceremony of the publication "History of Latvia: the 20th century", 27 January 2005:
"The early January days of the year 2005 allow us to look back at the previous century from a perspective of 100 years, and we can see that the first years of the last century were tumultuous and multifaceted. Mostly, they were filled with idealism, yearning and hopes; however, they were also filled with frustration, suffering and injustice. [..]
In the meantime, Latvia has experienced many battles at war, as well as on city streets, in homesteads, forests, and courtyards. Latvia's soil has been stained by the blood of the fallen in direct confrontation between two hostile parties, by the blood of innocent civilians, by the blood of people who were shot without any court verdict during the revolution of 1905, by the blood of whole societal groups that were exterminated in an industrial fashion in the years of the Holocaust. I may say that in these hundred years Latvia has experienced almost everything that is possible. [..]
To me, history is one of the necessities of an independent nation. History of one's people, one's country, and one's nation is an inseparable part of national identity, of national self-awareness. It is necessary as a foundation for building our present and future. Understanding history as objectively as possible is also necessary for developing a common sense of belonging within society, for ironing out previous conflicts or contradictions, for understanding painful wrongdoings, and in time, if not for forgiveness, then for the process of reconciliation. These are all psychological processes that are based on an objective view of what happened. [..]
Currently, 15 years since regaining independence, or at least since proclaiming the declaration of independence, we can say that the Commission of Historians, which operates under direct supervision of the Presidency, has accomplished a great deal over these years. We can now prove to the world that Latvia is not willing to enter the new century on the ruins of various contradictions created by obsolete propaganda, but instead it is willing to analyse what has happened here with a rational mind, no matter how painful that might be, and in building upon the ruins of our past to try to create the kind of nation that lived in our hearts many years ago right after the French Revolution – the longing for rights, human rights, human dignity, opportunities to preserve our national identity and, yes, even our demands for an independent, sovereign state. [..]
It is important to us that we have a comprehensive and as objective as possible interpretation of the last century in Latvia's history available in one volume, and it is also important that this interpretation be available in the Russian language. There are so many millions of people who heard nothing but one version of what happened here, and one single explanation that doesn't include facts about what happened, rather it was served to these people in a concoction of absolutely uncompromising ideological propaganda. We finally have this volume and anyone who is interested now has factual information within their reach. I urge all those interested and those responsible to see to it that these two volumes, which we have in two languages, are soon joined by an English language version; German and French versions would also be necessary, and ideally I would also like to see it in Spanish considering how many millions of people in the world speak Spanish. This would be very significant as yet another step forward in our progress."
President's Chancery (25.01.2005)
Collected articles by the Latvian Historians Commission "Totalitarian Occupation Regimes in Latvia 1940-1964" published
With the address by the President of the Republic of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, at the Riga Castle on 23 March, the 13th volume of collected articles by the Latvian Commission of the Historians, "Totalitarian Occupation Regimes in Latvia 1940-1964", was officially presented. The book has been issued in the series of research papers by the Commission on Latvia's topical historical issues of the 20th century.
In her address the President emphasised that the main purpose of each volume issued by the Commission was to carry out a research bringing into light the historic events not yet revealed and to fight against false stereotypes and myths established during the occupation regimes. Latvia was now a free and democratic country where the representatives of humanitarian sciences could work following their conscience, said Vaira Vike-Freiberga, accentuating the value of freedom of thought and professionalism - the basic guideline of the research workers of any democratic country. "We wish to understand, explain and demonstrate what Latvia's history has been like." It is of vital importance to the country to provide access to as objective historical facts as possible, so that we could deal with the so widely spread stereotypes, myths and open propaganda."
The 13th volume of the collected articles, "Totalitarian Occupation Regimes in Latvia 1940-1964", comprises research work on both the Soviet and Nazi occupation. The first part of the book deals with the Soviet occupation in the period of time from 1940-1941 comprising articles by Irene Sneidere, Heinrihs Strods, Janis Stradins, Valters Scerbinskis and others. Interesting views have also been expressed by academic Janis Stradins in his article on the repressions by the totalitarian regime targeted at the science and academic circles in Latvia.
The second part of the book comprises latest research on the situation in Latvia during the Nazi occupation. The third part of the book comprises six articles devoted to the problems of the post- war period in Latvia. In this regard one should mention the research by Ritvars Jansons, Indulis Zalite and Aldis Bergmanis on the operation of the KGB of the Soviet Republic of Latvia and other repressive institutions. The 13th volume of the collected articles comprises 18 large articles that reflect latest research the Latvian Historians Commission has carried out on these matters.
During its six years of operation, the Latvian Historians Committee has organised seven large international scientific conferences and issued 13 volumes of collected articles on Latvia's topical historical events of the 20th century.
President's Chancery (22.-23.03.2005)
Latvian Historians Commission issues a new book in English: "The Hidden and Forbidden History of Latvia under the Soviet and Nazi Occupations, 1940-1991"
Earlier this year there had been much debate regarding the book "Latvia's History: the 20th Century", in which various Latvian historians had sought to provide a new and fact-based interpretation of this period of our past that had always been politically significant. In spring this year, another book was published with the same goal in mind – the 14th volume of the collected articles by the Latvian Commission of the Historians "The Hidden and Forbidden History of Latvia and the Soviet and Nazi Occupations, 1940-1991". The book comprises the most significant research carried out by the Latvian Commission of the Historians that had already been published in Latvian in the previous 13 volumes of collected articles and have now been translated in English and at places abbreviated or supplemented with additional facts.
The book aims at what is and will remain also its main contribution - to provide an opportunity to the western historians, diplomats and journalists to get acquainted with the most important findings of the latest research into Latvia's history. The book contains both an accurate summary of the deportations of the years 1940 and 1949 and an honest and fact-based research on the period of the German occupation and participation of Latvians in the Holocaust, as well as a detailed analysis of post-war demographic changes and russification. The book will also be sent to about two hundred world leading academic libraries.
In the preface the President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga says: "[..] I have no doubt that this publication will be of great interest to all those who wish to learn more about some of the most trying times that Latvia has ever experienced. As a new member state of the European Union and NATO Alliance, Latvia is eager to foster a stronger sense of Pan-European brotherhood. This will only be possible if the people of Europe hold a common vision of the future, based on common, overriding values and a common understanding of past events."
Latvian War Museum organises international scientific conference "Latvia during World War II"
On 22 April, an international scientific conference "Latvia during the World War II" was held at the Latvian War Museum. The participants of the conference were addressed by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima, Aleksandrs Kirsteins, Director of the Latvian Foreign Policy Institute, Atis Lejins, Latvian historians, as well as foreign guests. The University of Latvia Professor Inesis Feldmanis delivered a speech "World War II: Versions of Perception and Assessment", whereas Dr habil Antonijs Zunda made a speech on "Important Historical Aspects of Latvia's History during World War II: Historiographic Approaches". Among other subjects the conference focused on Latvia-Poland relations in September 1939, operation of the Soviet repressive apparatus in Latvia in 1944 – 1945, beginning of the sovietisation of Eastern Europe and the Baltics in 1944-1945 and the role of the Latvian War Museum in the progress of research related to the events of World War II.
President of Latvia opens EUROCLIO conference in Riga
On 15 April, the President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, addressed the participants of the European Standing Conference of History Teachers' Associations (EUROCLIO) in Riga, pointing out that history was a discipline related to both arts and science, allowing you to discover and learn new details each day.
The President of Latvia noted that history books in both Europe and North America were based on the same sources of ancient times, accentuating how crucial it was to abide by the principles of honest and well considered selection here, especially in terms of the liability of the authors of history books and teachers to have as broad historical outlook as possible, and to not mix up history and propaganda.
"Latvia is now in Europe, and our history is also the history of Europe. It is both the task and challenge of the European Union now that our history has become yours and yours is also ours," said the President, underlining that each European nation should be aware of the achievements and failures of the other nations and of the injustice done to the other nations. The President emphasised that each country should take good care of its own history, teach it in great detail and from its own national point of view, as no other country would be interested in it to the same extent. At the same time, she noted, there was also the common heritage of the whole of Europe and mankind, which is now expanding and, as such, should also be studied as much as possible. The President pointed out that "we must be honest with regard to our past" and said the task was to increase the awareness and understanding of school children of who they were, what their nation was and what mankind they belonged to.
The President emphasised that, in her opinion, the main task of teachers was to provide an interesting summary of historical dates and facts that would also bear an emotional meaning, so as to arise the interest of school children and their willingness to learn about the past.
The President said a framework of democracy and humanism based on the ideas of democracy, equality and human rights was of high importance in terms of history teaching. She also accentuated the importance of balance in retelling the history to the next generations, as women, for instance, had with a few exceptions been practically left out of the science of history for many centuries, and men had almost always been the only heroes spoken about. The same had happened to some of the nations that due to the collisions of history had been cut out of the history of the mankind.
President's Chancery (15.04.2005)
Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs opens an international conference on historical issues in Copenhagen
On 28 April 2005, Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Artis Pabriks, opened an international conference on the role of history in promoting mutual confidence and cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, Coming to Terms with History: Building Mutual Confidence and Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region, organised by Latvian embassies in Denmark and Finland, and the Foreign Policy Association of Denmark.
Speakers at the opening of the conference were also the Chairman of the Foreign Policy Association of Denmark, Denmark's former Foreign Minister, Uffe Ellemann Jensen, and Finland's former Defence Minister, Elisabeth Rehn. The list of participants to address the audience were Professor of the University of Latvia, Aivars Stranga; commentator for The Wall Street Journal, Vladimir Socor; Senior Research Associate of Monteray Institute of International Studies, Robert Nurick; representative of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Andrei Ryabov; Member of the European Parliament from Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves; and others.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (27.04.2005)
Address of Artis Pabriks, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Latvia, to the Conference "Coming to terms with history: Building mutual confidence and cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region", at the National Museum in Copenhagen, 28 April 2005
Legal aspects of the Hitler-Stalin pact brought forward at a forum
On 30 April, a conference – forum "The Hitler-Stalin Pact Today: Legal Consequences and Liability" was held in Riga, organised by the Riga Graduate School of Law and the civic initiative group "ELJA50" uniting the former activists of the European Latvian Youth Association who were now dealing with projects promoting democracy in Latvia. The Forum was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The objective of the Forum was to draw more attention to legal aspects related to the Hitler-Stalin pact and the occupation of the Baltic States resulting from it, in the context of the ongoing debate regarding the celebration of the end of the World War II on 9 May in Moscow. The Forum focused on the analysis of the still existing legal consequences of the first Soviet occupation (1939-41) at both national and human levels, and ways of negotiating them with the Russian Federation as the legal heir of the former USSR.
Among the participants of the Forum were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Artis Pabriks, and former Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, member of the European Parliament, Toomas Hendrik Ilves. The speeches delivered included "The Consequences of Occupation from the Point of View of the International Law" by Riga Graduate School of Law lector Kristine Kruma, "Reaction of Foreign Countries to the Occupation of the Baltic States" by lawyer Dr William Hough, and "Consequences of Occupation in the Area of Human Rights: Lithuania's Claim for Compensation" by Dr Dainius Zalimas from the Vilnius University. There were also round table talks and a workshop "How to Promote Responsibility for the Consequences of the Occupation?" headed by Prof Rasma Karklina and involving Girts Kristovskis, former Minister of Defence and former Minister of the Interior, member of the European Parliament; Matthias Kelly QC, former Chairman of the UK Lawyers Association; and Prof Dr Paulis Lazda from Wisconsin University, founder of the Occupation Museum.
Newsletter "Latvia's History: Education, Remembrance, Research" is a compilation of press releases and news reports drawn from the media and official sources.