Latvia's History Commission

02.12.2014. 19:09

Latvia's History Commission

Updated January 2002

In order to promote research into the crimes against humanity perpetrated in the territory of Latvia during the Soviet and Nazi occupations between 1940 and 1956 and to make the results known to both the Latvian and international public, an international commission of historians was established on the initiative of the President of Latvia Mr. Guntis Ulmanis on 13 November 1998. The President of Latvia Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga is continuing the policy of her predecessor and has extended the Commission's mandate. In December 1999 the post of an Adviser to the President on History Issues was set up. The current adviser to the President Dr. habil. hist., Associate Professor Antonijs Zunda was appointed to the post on 1 November 2000. The Commission maintains close co-operation with the President of Latvia through regular meetings that are organised several times a year. The work of the Commission is directed towards steady increase in effectiveness of its activities and fulfilment of its main tasks and objectives.

The Commission is charged with and committed to setting forth unequivocally and clearly the crimes against humanity during the rule of the occupation regimes. The Commission pursues its mission through international conferences and publications, the promotion of historical research and the development of appropriate historical curricula in schools and universities.


In order to promote research Commission has formed four sub-commissions:

  1. Crimes against Humanity Committed in the Territory of Latvia 1940-41, headed by Professor Dr. Valdis Berzins;
  2. Holocaust in the Territory of Latvia 1944-44, headed by Professor Dr. Aivars Stranga;
  3. Crimes against Humanity Committed in the Territory of Latvia during the German Occupation 1941-45, headed by Professor Dr. Inesis Feldmanis;
  4. Crimes against Humanity Committed in the Territory of Latvia during the Second Soviet Occupation 1944-56, headed by Professor Dr. Heinrihs Strods.

More than 30 Latvian historians are currently examining the most important aspects of crimes against humanity in Latvia. The aim is to compile a research record sufficiently complete and well documented to assure an accurate and undeniable portrayal of these crimes and their perpetrators. The Holocaust and, in particular, the involvement of ethnic Latvians in the massacre actions in the summer and late fall of 1941, is the initial focus of research.

The Progress Report of the Commission was completed and published in November 2001. The Report gives a summary of the activities of the Commission, and describes the research work accomplished by four sub-commissions as of summer 2001.  

International Conferences and Seminars

The international conferences, mainly in co-operation with the History Institute of Latvia, define the framework for research and inform the general public about the historians' findings. Up to now, three such conferences have taken place: "Latvia in the Second World War" (1999), "Problems of Research into the Holocaust in Latvia" (2000) and "The Deportation of 14 June 1941" (2001). The papers of the first two conferences have been published in the series "Symposium of the Commission of Historians of Latvia"; the third conference proceedings are in preparation.

On 29 November 2001 a follow-up seminar of the Holocaust conference "The Issues of the Holocaust Research" dealing with the most recent researches done in this field took place in Riga.

The conferences have been useful for determining areas of agreement and disagreement with international scholars and need for comparative studies.

Historical Education

The Commission has paid special attention to the dissemination of appropriate historical knowledge and teaching methodology in the schools. For this purpose it has co-operated closely and successfully with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Latvian Association of History Teachers, the Museum and Documentation Centre "Jews in Latvia", the Occupation Museum of Latvia (1940-1991) and other educational and cultural organisations. "The Teaching of Controversial Issues of World War II" was the title of a seminar for teachers in April 2000, followed by "Holocaust Education" in the autumn of 2000. A further seminar for history teachers in November 2001 dealt with "The Holocaust in Latvia".

On 16 June 2001 in Riga, a workshop for history teachers "How to use the book "Tell Ye Your Children.." in history lessons" was held. The most recent seminar for history teachers on education on the Holocaust issues was organised on 21-23 November 2001.  

International Co-operation

The History Commission has commenced co-operation with the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. The first step in co-operation was participation of Latvia's delegation, headed by the President of Latvia Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, in the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust on 26-28 January 2000.

In co-operation with the Government of Sweden the work on translation and publication of the book about the history of the Holocaust "Tell Ye Your Children?" was completed. On 12 February 2001 a presentation of the Latvian translation of the book "Tell Ye Your Children..." by Paul A. Levine and Stephane Bruchfeld was held in Riga. The book has been distributed to Latvia's schools, libraries and museums.

On 23 August Latvian Government appointed Mr Andris Sarnovics, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science, as its representative in co-operation with the International Task Force. On 23 October 2001 "Republic of Latvia: Holocaust Education, Remembrance, Research Action Plan 2002 - 2003" was presented to the International Task Force in The Hague. According to the Action Plan, the main activities for the History Commission (together with the History Institute of Latvia) are: 1. Edition of Holocaust conference materials, which took place in Riga on 29 November 2001. 2. Study visits of Latvian researchers to the Yad Vashem's Holocaust Memorial Centre Archive, Berlin State Archive, and Moscow State Archives. 3. Research and publication of the report "The Holocaust in the towns of Latvia, 1941", Jewish communities in Krustpils and Ventspils.          

Commission's Members



Dr. Andris Caune, Professor, Chairman

Dr. Per Ahlmark, Sweden

Dr. Aivars Stranga, Professor, Deputy Chairman

Mr. Carl Bildt, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General in Kosovo

Dr. habil.hist. Antonijs Zunda, Associate Professor

Dr. Alain Besancon, Professor, France

Dr. phil. Armands Gutmanis

Dr. David Cesarani, Professor, UK

Dr. hist. Eriks Jekabsons

Dr. Alexander Chubariyan, Professor, Russia

Ms. Daina Klavina, Director of the State Archives

Mr. Karlis Kangeris, historian, Sweden

Dr. Valters Nollendorfs, Professor

Dr. Norman M. Naimark, Professor, USA

Dr. Inesis Feldmanis, Professor

Dr. Erwin Oberlander, Professor, Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Germany

Dr. Heinrihs Strods, Professor emeritus

Dr. Georg D. Schwab, USA

Mr. Margers Vestermanis, director of the Museum and Documentation Centre "Jews in Latvia"

Dr. Alfred E. Senn, Professor emeritus, USA

Dr. habil. phil., Vilnis Zarins, Professor

Mr. Steven Springfield, "Jewish Survivors of Latvia", USA

Dr. hist., Irena Sneidere

Dr. Krister Wahlback, Professor, Sweden


The Progress Report of Latvia's History Commission:

"Latvia's History: Education, Remembrance, Research" (a regular newsletter prepared by the MFA):


Latvia's History Commission
Chairman: Professor Andris Caune
Address: c/o History Institute of Latvia
1 Akademijas laukums, Riga, LV 1050, Latvia
Tel.: (+371) 7 225 948, Fax: (+371) 7 225 044
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Adviser to the President of State on History Issues
Dr. habil. hist. Assoc. Professor Antonijs Zunda
Address: Chancery of the President,
3 Pils laukums, Riga, LV 1900, Latvia
Tel.: (+371) 7 092 109 , Fax: (+371) 7 325 800

Latvia's History Teacher's Association
Address: 47-12/2 Stabu iela, Riga, LV 1011, Latvia
Tel./Fax: (+371) 7 376 040
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The Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust

Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research