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Commission of Historians

A detailed research about the politics of Nazi and Soviet regime, the issue of the Holocaust evaluation are at the centre of the work of the Commission of Historians of Latvia at present. Deep and academic research on the Holocaust will represent a certain criterion for the maturity of the scholars as well as the community as a whole. 

 

During the recent years, the Commission pays greater attention to the problems of Latvia’s development during the Soviet regime. Impartial studying of history is of vital importance in the context of the international dialogue between Latvia and Israel, Russia, and other countries.

 

Presentation of publication of the Commission of Historians “The Problems of Latvian History and Historiography 1918-1990”. Photo: Chancery of the President of Latvia

 

There are five working groups established, which are studying five research priorities of the Latvian history in the 20th century: 

  • Formation and strengthening of the state of Latvia (chaired by Professor A.Zunda);
  • The first Soviet occupation in 1940-1941 (chaired by Professor A.Ivanovs);
  • Crimes against humanity in the territory of Latvia during the Nazi occupation in 1941-1944 (chaired by Professor A. Stranga);
  • Latvia in the Soviet Union in 1944 – 1990 (chaired by Dr.hist. D.Bleiere).

A further task of the Commission of Historians is to contribute to teaching history in schools by preparing the basis for creating new teaching materials, as well as to promote awareness of the public on the events that had taken place in that period in Latvia and abroad.

Establishment of the Commission

The Commission of the Historians of Latvia was established on 13 November 1998 following the initiative of the then President of Latvia, Guntis Ulmanis. It assumed its work at the end of 1998 consisting of eleven members of the Commission. Professor Andris Caune, the Director of the Institute of History, was elected a Chairperson of the Commission. 

 

The Commission included professional historians from:

  • The Institute of History of the University of Latvia,
  • The Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia, 
  • The State History Archives of Latvia,
  • The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. 

In co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign members of the Commission were found and involved in the Commission. The meetings of the Commission with the participation of its foreign members are to be held once a year. 

 

The involvement of foreign scholars and community activists should promote impartiality in the work of the Commission as well as provide for better acquisition of the methods of history research developed in the West.

 

The main task of the Commission during its initial working period was to study the issue - “Crimes against Humanity Committed in the Territory of Latvia under Two Occupations, 1940 - 1956”, as well as to organise the production of the final report on the theme. Only a few of the members of the Commission were directly involved in the research of the theme, as the major work is being implemented by approximately 25 professional historians.

 

The task involves work for several years, which is connected with both the need to acquire new materials from archives in Latvia and abroad, and the need to acquire a possibly most impartial estimation of the problems connected with the theme.

Chair of the Commission of Historians of Latvia

Inesis Feldmanis - Dr. habil. hist., full member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Department of Faculty of Modern and Contemporary History of the Faculty of History and Philosophy of Western Europe and America of the University of Latvia, Professor.

 

 

Presentation of publication of the Commission of Historians “The Problems of Latvian History and Historiography 1918-1990”. Photo: Chancery of the President of Latvia

Members of the Commission of Historians of Latvia

Ilgvars Butulis - Dr. hist., Professor of the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia,

Aivars Stranga - Dr. habil. hist., full member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Head of Department of Latvian and Eastern European History of the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia,

Ēriks Jēkabsons - Dr. hist., Associate Professor of the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia,

Valters Nollendorfs - PhD, External Affairs Director of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Professor emeritus, foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences,

Daina Bleiere - Dr. hist., Assistant Professor of the Department of Political Science of the Faculty of European Studies of Rīga Stradiņš University, senior researcher of the Institute of Latvian History of the University of Latvia,

Marģers Vestermanis - Dr. hist. h.c. of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, curator of the Museum “Jews in Latvia”,

Kārlis Kangeris - Dr. hist., researcher of the Institute of Latvian History

Antonijs Zunda - Dr. habil. hist., Professor of the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia,

Uldis Neiburgs – Dr. hist., Historian at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia,

Aleksandrs Ivanovs – Dr. hist., Professor at the Daugavpils University

Valters Ščerbinskis – Dr. hist., Assistant Professor of the Faculty of European Studies of Rīga Stradiņš University,

Ainārs Lerhis  - Dr. hist., Senior Researcher of the Institute of Latvian History of the University of Latvia,

Mārtiņš Mintaurs - Dr. hist., Assistant Professor of the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia

 

Foreign members of the Commission of Historians of Latvia

Erwin Oberlender (Germany) – Dr. phil., Dr.h.c., foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Professor emeritus,

David Smith (Great Britain) – PhD, Professor of the University of Glasgow,

Joachim Tauber (Germany) – PDDr., Director of the Institute for the Culture and History of the Germans in North-Eastern Europe of the University of Hamburg, 

Eero Medijainen (Estonia) – PhD, Professor of the University of Tartu,

Zenons Butkus (Lithuania) – PhD, Professor of the University of Vilnius,

Aaron Schneier (Israel) – PhD, Senior Researcher at the Yad Vashem Institute. 

 

Symposium of the Commission of the Historians of Latvia