Remarks of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, Einars Repse,
on the occasion of the dedication of the memorial
to the victims of the Nazis at Rumbula
29 November 2002
Today the memorial to thousands of victims of the Nazis is being dedicated. They were the victims of extremism, hate and intolerance. They were the victims of the occupation regime and its local supporters.
Jews of Latvia were murdered here simply because of their ethnicity. They were our people who perished. They were residents of Latvia who for hundreds of years had lived on Latvia's soil and participated actively at all times in all spheres of our life, including the War for Independence which only a short while ago we recalled on the Day of Lacplesis. For these atrocities, it is clearly not the Republic of Latvia that is to be blamed, but a foreign occupation regime that ruled and acted. Regrettably, there was support from fellow travellers and criminals.
One occupation replaced another occupation regime and the suffering in our country continued for another half a century. Only now, in an independent and democratic state is it possible for us to speak freely about our past. Freedom of speech has made possible the elucidation of complicated and contradictory pages of history and the reassessment of these painful periods of history has begun.
We must go through with this process, we must be able to analyse history openly and honestly. The unpleasant facts of history can neither be changed nor hushed up. The people of Latvia feel with the Nazi victims, just as we honour the many courageous Latvians, like Zanis Lipke, who hid and saved their fellow countrymen from the Nazi occupation regime. They risked their lives to defend the freedom and honour of fellow citizens, of other human beings.
Latvia has made much progress toward achieving clarity about its history. Nobody in Latvia will forget the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. The memorial at Rumbula has been erected to constantly remind of these times and events. Nothing like this must ever happen again anywhere in the world.