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Vike-Freiberga discusses Holocaust legacy during Israel trip

Feb 21, 2006
TBT Staff

RIGA 's At a dinner hosted by Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga discussed the difficult legacy concerning some Latvians' involvement in the Holocaust during World War II.

"To our eternal shame and sorrow, the Shoah will forever remain one of the most tragic chapters in Latvia's and in Europe's history," she said.

"Regrettably, there were people in Latvia who took part in the Nazi campaign to annihilate the Jewish population in Europe. But there were also a number of brave souls, of whom about 500 have been officially documented in Latvia, who risked their own lives and the lives of their loved ones to hide and protect their Jewish friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, as well as complete strangers."

"A number of Latvian government and non-governmental organizations are working together with Latvia's Jewish community to ensure that the events of the Shoah in Latvia are thoroughly researched and that the victims are not forgotten," Vike-Freiberga said.

"The Historians' Commission of Latvia has established a successful partnership with the Yad Vashem memorial, and the Latvian Prosecutor-General's Office is continuing its investigations into the crimes of that period. The events of the Shoah are part of the school curriculum in Latvian history and ethics courses."

An international conference devoted to the Holocaust will begin in Latvia on July 4, the Latvian president said. Another conference that deals with Jewish life today will take place in September.

"We would be pleased to welcome representatives from Israel at both of these events," she said.

Vike-Freiberga will remain in Israel until tomorrow, Feb.22. She is scheduled to visit the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, today.

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