LATVIA'S HISTORY: EDUCATION, REMEMBRANCE, RESEARCH
December, 2000 (8)
President of Latvia Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga Congratulates the Recipients of the Raoul Wallenberg 2000 Award
Latvia's History Commission Sums up the Activities Carried out in 2000
Latvia's History Commission in 2001: Plans and Intentions
President of Latvia Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga Congratulates the Recipients of the Raoul Wallenberg 2000 Award
December 14, on occasion of presenting the Raoul Wallenberg 2000 Award to the Argentine businessman Oscar Vicente and Ambassador of Sweden to Argentina Peter Landelius President of Latvia Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga sent a letter congratulating both the recipients of the award.
Dr Vike-Freiberga stressed that genocide against Jewish people was one of the darkest events in the history of humanity: "It is our sacred duty to commemorate the lives of those who were lost in these most tragic events by gathering information about them as fully as we can. It is a way of trying to make restitution of some of the human dignity from which these people were deprived. It is a way if building a memorial to those whose ashes were scattered in the winds or who disappeared into mass graves."
It was also said in her letter that Latvia is seriously considering the past and investigating the tragic events. "We must all work to establish the root causes of conflicts, the root causes of prejudice, and the root causes of human evil. It is only as we progress in this understanding that we have a ghost of a chance of insuring that events like the Holocaust will not be repeated, that events like the Holocaust will stop taking place everywhere around us in the world."
Dr Vike-Freiberga noted, "Latvia has also honoured a number of its wartime heroes, including Zanis Lipke, Bruno Rozentals, Olga Kruzmane, Juris Berzins, and Jadviga Arcehovska. These righteous people, like Raoul Wallenberg, saved the lives of Jews during the Nazi German occupation in Latvia."
The IRWF reports that "Among the numerous statements received, some stood out, such as those of Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York City; Ehud Barak, the Premier of Israel; Nane Annan, Raoul Wallenberg's niece and the wife of the General Secretary of the United Nations; those of the presidents of Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia and Slovenia."
The President of Latvia is an honorary member of the IRWF.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
Chancery of the President of Latvia
3 Pils Square, Riga,
LV 1900, Latvia
Tel.: (+ 371) 7 377 548
Fax: (+ 371) 7 325 800
Latvia's History Commission Sums Up the Activities Carried Out In 2000
December 4, Latvia's History Commission evaluated the results of the research work carried out in 2000. Four task forces of historians were working on 26 different history themes. In a short time (April- November 2000) the historians had carried out several analytical researches.
The first research group that unites Latvian State Archives' specialists is investigating crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Latvia in 1940-1941. The task force worked on preparation of the collection of documents "The Deported", which would be comprised of the most important documents – pieces of evidence of the deportations of the Latvian population carried out by the Soviet regime in 1941. In addition four researches on the repressions against Latvian diplomats, ethnic minorities of Latvia, army officers, and civilians as performed by the Soviet authorities during the first weeks of the Second World War have been completed.
The work in the Holocaust research task force has yielded most substantial results. In October 2000 Riga hosted an important conference on the research of the Holocaust issues. Work on a publication of the conference materials is under way. Mr Margers Vestermanis, Director of the Museum and Documentation Centre "Jews in Latvia", is presently working on an extensive monograph about resistance against the Holocaust in Latvia. Materials on those people in Latvia who rescued Jews during the Second World War are yet to be collected. Dr Leo Dribins has completed two chapters of the monograph "The History of Anti-Semitism in Latvia".
The mass execution of Jews in Latvian towns and villages, the punishment of the members of the Arajs' commando during the period of the Soviet regime, the fate of Jewish refugees in Latvia in the period of 1933-1940, and the red terror against Jews in 1940-1953 are the themes under the scrutiny of a number of historians, Prof A. Stranga, Dr I. Sneidere, and Ms R. Viksne among them.
Investigation of the crimes committed in Latvia during Nazi occupation in 1941-1945 is the third research theme and is being studied by historians U. Neiburgs and K. Zellis, who have started identification of the perished and repressed people (excluding Jews) during the German occupation in order to develop an extensive database. Work on this project will also be continued in 2001. The historiography problems of the period of 1941-1945 have been highlighted by a group of researchers (Dr I. Feldmanis, Assoc Prof A. Zunda, and Dr J. Taurens), while E. Evarts, K. Kangeris, U. Neiburgs, and Dz. Erglis have accomplished a research on the operation of the Latvian self-government during the Nazi occupation period, the national resistance movement, and the elimination of Latvian intellectual potential. Publication of the above-mentioned researches is being envisaged in the agenda of the Latvian History Commission for 2001.
The fourth theme entitled "The crimes against humanity committed in Latvia during the second Soviet occupation in 1941-1956" has been covered by Dr I Zalite and R. Jansons. A research on the formation and operation of the state security institutions of the Latvian SSR has already been completed. A. Bergmanis' research is dedicated to the activities of the authorities of the Latvian SSR state security institutions and their role in genocide against the Latvian nation, but Prof H. Strods has paid special attention to the resistance movement of the Latvian youth against the Soviet occupational forces in 1944-1959. Dr D. Bleiere has studied the initial stages and consequences of the collectivisation in Latvia and destruction of independent farming. These researches also will be included in the 2nd and 3rd volumes of the LHC's collections of writings to be published in 2001.
Latvia's History Commission in 2001: Plans and Intentions
Among the projects planned by the Latvia's History Commission for the first half of 2001 is a separate edition of the reports and materials of the conference on the Holocaust issues (October 2000, Riga), which will be supplemented with the most recent findings related to the Holocaust issue in Latvia. The materials on the crimes committed in Latvia in the periods of Soviet and Nazi occupations will also be published in a separate edition, as well as the collection of documents "The Deported".
With an active assistance of Prof A. Ezergailis, the Commission plans to publish a collection of documents from the U.S. National Archives about Latvia in the Second World War. Another collection of writings about the most topical Second World War issues related to Latvia is among the proposed activities for 2001. Both collections will be available in English.
In 2001 two conferences are scheduled to take place in Riga: on 12-13 June a conference on the deportations of Latvia's population carried out by the Soviet authorities in 1941, and a follow-up seminar of the Holocaust conference on the recent researches in the field in November 2001 will be held.
The task force on preparation of the conference on the deportations is already set up. The conference aims to highlight the problem of deportations in the light of violation of international rights, and the role of the Soviet authorities and the Communist Party of Latvia in it. Also economic, demographic and social consequences of the Soviet deportations will be elucidated. The conference is planned to be joined by researchers not only from Latvia, but also from Canada, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Israel, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S.
The general research work of the Commission will be continued in four research groups as named before, and will be headed by V. Berzins, A. Stranga, I. Feldmanis, and H. Strods.
Apart from the general themes of the research a comprehensive opinion of the Commission on the Latvian legion will be released in 2001. This formulation of the Commission's position will be based on the recent study carried out by K. Kangeris.
In 2001 grants from the Commission will be available for the best history students to carry out independent researches. This decision of the Commission has been made in order to promote history studies and encourage young historians to study the history of their native country.
The Commission has also granted financial support for the completion of a documentary film about the rescuers of Jews in Latvia.
In 2001 the Commission will continue its fruitful co-operation with archives, and museums, including the museum "Jews in Latvia", and the Occupation Museum, as well as the History Teachers' Association of Latvia and other state and non-governmental institutions, and will extend collaboration with international experts.
Two joint sessions of the Commission are planned to be held in June and November 2001 with participation of international members.
Latvia's History Commission
Dr. habil.hist. Assoc. Prof. Antonijs Zunda
Adviser to the President of State on History Commission Issues
3 Pils Square, Riga, LV 1900, Latvia
Tel.: (+371) 7 092 109
Fax: (+371) 7 325 800
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The Occupation Museum of Latvia