Activities of the Commission of the Historians of Latvia in 2004

15.12.2015. 12:25

Activities of the Commission of the Historians of Latvia in 2004

In 2004, the Commission of the Historians of Latvia continued its research into the currently topical historical issues pertaining to the years between 1940 and 1956 and related to the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany occupation periods in Latvia.

The central event in 2004 was the organizing of the international scientific conference, which took place in Riga on June 3-4 and was entitled "The Totalitarian Regimes in the Baltics: Problems and Results of Research." Presenting a number of papers were researchers from Latvia and other countries. The most interesting reports came from the American historian, Alfred Erich Senn, "The Baltic Battleground"; the Latvian historians Rudite Viksne, "Soviet Repression of the Population of Latvia in 1940-1941: Characteristic Trends" and Inesis Feldmanis, "The Nazi Occupation Policy in Latvia (1941-1945): Research Problems, Possible Solutions and Variations"; the Finnish historian Markku Jokisipil, "The Finnish and German Military Presence in the Baltic States during the Finnish Continuation War"; the Russian researcher Boris Sokolov, "The Baltic States in the Historiography of Russia 1939-1945"; and many others. The opening of the Conference was addressed by the President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga. The papers presented at the Conference will be published with supplements in a separate volume of writings of the Commission of the Historians of Latvia in 2005.

The year 2004 is significant in that a step was taken towards a closer cooperation between the Commissions of Historians of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. On June 2 2004, a joint meeting of representatives of the Commissions of Historians of all the three countries took place in Riga. The Latvian side was represented at the meeting by both Latvian and foreign members of the Commission. Lithuania was represented by the Chairman of the Commission, Emanuelis Zingeris, and the Executive Director of the Commission, Ronaldas Racinskas. The Estonian representative was Toomas Hiio, Executive Secretary of the Commission. In order to promote a more speedy achievement of the goals set by the Commissions of Historians of the three Baltic States, a proposal to have regular meetings of the Commissions of Historians drew support. Last autumn, Chairman of the Latvian Commission Andris Caune and Secretary Rudite Viksne visited Vilnius. Historians of the three states also supported the proposal of organizing joint conferences and possibly also publications. A recommendation was made to involve Polish historians in the process.

In November 2004, the term of office of the personnel of the Latvian Commission expired and was renewed. On 22 November 2004, the President of Latvia and the Prime Minister confirmed the new staff list by Order No.6. Prof. Dr. habil. hist. Andris Caune was appointed Chairman of the Commission for another term. His deputy is Prof. Erwin Oberlander of the University of Mainz. Latvian representatives in the Commission are: professors Aivars Stranga, Inesis Feldmanis, Antonijs Zunda, Heinrihs Strods, Valters Nollendorfs, Vilnis Zarins, as well as Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hist. Eriks Jekabsons, Irene Sneidere and Daina Bleiere. Members of the Commission include also Margers Vestermanis, Director of the Museum âÀœJews in LatviaâÀ, and Director of the Latvian State Archives, Daina Klavina.

Foreign members of the commission are: Dr Norman Naimark (USA), Dr George D. Schwab (USA), Steven Springfield (USA), Dr Alfred Senn (USA), Dr David Cesarani (Gt. Britain), Dr Erwin Oberlander (Germany), Dr Krister Wahlback (Sweden), Dr Karlis Kangeris (Sweden), Per Ahlmark (Sweden), Dr Aleksandr Cubarjan (Russia), Dr Isaac Arad (Israel), and Carl Bildt (Sweden). Altogether the Commission has 24 members, 12 from Latvia and 12 from other countries.

On 2 June 2004, a joint meeting of the Commission of Historians took place. Its Agenda included the priorities in the future work of the Commission for 2005-2007. It was decided that continuing in-depth research of the crimes against humanity of the USSR and Nazi Germany occupation regimes in Latvia 1940-1956, the entire period of the Soviet regime in Latvia until 1991 should be embraced. Along with issues of the Holocaust, mass deportations, collaboration and others, historians must research the entire post-war period. Attention must be given to issues such as the economic, social and demographic consequences of policies implemented by the Soviet regime; repressions against the civil population; resistance to sovietisation; education and cultural policies; changes in the ethnic composition of the population; russification, colonization, and others.

The Commission considers that during the next period of activities, results of such research should be more widely explained both to the Latvian and international public and international institutions, working closely with the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Latvian History Teachers Association, museums, archives and other research institutions. Effort should be made to publish the latest research not only in Latvian but also in Russian, English and other languages.

Another important achievement to be noted in 2004 is the publication of three new volumes of the writings of the Commission. Volume 10, "Occupation Regimes in Latvia 1940-1956" includes research carried out by the Commission in 2002 on the subject. Volume 11, "Latvia under Nazi German Occupation 1941-1945", includes papers presented at the international conference held on 12 and 13 June 2003. Volume 12, "The Holocaust Research in Latvia", contains papers presented at two international conferences held on this subject in 2003.

Work also continued on the development of a database of the population of Latvia repressed by the occupation regimes during the XX century (1940-1990). The project is headed by the Director of the Latvian State Archives, Dace Klavina. The electronic database contains information on over ten thousand persons. The work on the database will continue during the next year as well. A few years ago, a fundamental research on the deportations of 14 June 1941, "The Deportees", was published. A similar work is currently in progress on the cases of persons deported in March 1949.

Source: President's Chancery