Historians study lessons of double dictatorships

  • 2000-04-06
RIGA (BNS) – Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga praised work by a commission of international and Latvian historians, which she noted is doing a very important job by studying the two occupations in Latvia with emphasis on the Holocaust and teaching of its history at schools.

The Latvian president and historians also talked about the suggestion to open a museum about the Holocaust and Jewish cultural heritage in Latvia.

They also discussed possible ways to commemorate Zanis Lipke, a Latvian who saved many Jews in World War II.

Vike-Freiberga said that a city square should be named after Lipke or a monument erected to commemorate him and "to remind all Latvians about this man who saved a significant number of Jewish lives."

In addition to the Holocaust, the historians could continue studying the first and second Soviet occupations and the period of German occupation in Latvia.

The historians' commission was established in 1998 at the initiative by former Latvian president Guntis Ulmanis. The main task of the commission is to study materials about crimes against humanity in the period from 1940 to 1956.

The commission is also expected to produce a final report, but the studies will take several years as the experts have to examine new materials from the archives and obtain impartial information about the events.

In the long run the commission's objective is to contribute to history teaching in schools by creating a basis for development curriculum.

The commission has already signed agreements with the 25 historians who will begin working on a study about the Holocaust, Soviet occupation and Nazi occupation in Latvia. Last weekend the historians met in the central Latvian town of Ligatne.