The Commission of the Historians of Latvia was established on 13 November 1998 following the initiative of the former State President Guntis Ulmanis. It assumed its work at the end of 1998 composed by eleven members of the Commission. The Commission included professional historians from the Institute of History and the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia, State History Archives of Latvia as well as the Museum of Occupation and employees of the Chancery of the President. Andris Caune, the Professor of the Institute of History, was elected Chairman of the Commission.
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 twice a year. The involvement of foreign scholars and community activists will 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 is 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 are directly involved in the research of the theme major work is being implemented by approximately 25 professional historians. The task involves work for several years, which is connected both with the need to acquire new materials from archives as well as the need to acquire a possibly most impartial estimation of the problems connected with the theme.
4 independent working groups have been established:
1. Crimes against
Humanity in the Territory of Latvia in 1940 -1941 (chaired by Prof.
The issue of the Holocaust evaluation is at the centre of the work of the Commission at present. Deep and detailed research on the Holocaust will represent a certain criterion for the maturity of the scholars as well as the community as a whole. Impartial studying of history is of vital importance in the context of the international dialogue between Latvia and Israel, Russia and other countries.
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 dissemination of knowledge on this period to the people of Latvia and abroad.
As research was not financed in 1999, the Commission devoted its main attention to preparing and organising conferences.
The Commission and the Institute of History of Latvia together with
Madona Museum of Local History organised a conference in connection with
the 50th anniversary of the deportations of 1949. The
Conference materials were published in the journal of the Institute of
History of Latvia.
The Commission closely co-operates with the President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga. With common efforts it has been worked hard on increasing the effectiveness of the Commission. At the beginning of 2000 the Commission received the first financial allocation for implementing specific research.
The Commission also successfully co-operates with the Ministry of Education and Science and the Association of Latvian Teachers of History. The best evidence to this co-operation is the seminar "Teaching controversial issues of the history of World War II at school", which was organised on 1 and 2 April 2000 in Ligatne. This event may be considered as the one where the latest theoretical conclusions and researchers' conceptions found reflection in the real-life methods of teaching history. Two teachers from Latvia have participated in the seminar organised by Yad Vashem (remarkable centre of the Holocaust research, training and commemoration) in Israel.
The Commission has assumed co-operation with the International Task Force for the Holocaust Research, which has been created following the initiative of several European countries. The members of the Task Force include the government representatives of Sweden, Great Britain, the USA, Israel and Germany. The first step towards the co-operation was the participation in the Conference "The Holocaust: Commemoration, Education, Research" organised by the Swedish government on 26 28 January 2000. With the support of the Swedish government a book has been published "Tell your children about it..." dealing with the history of the Holocaust. This book is mainly designed for using at schools.
Members of the Commission
of Historians of Latvia
Foreign Members of the Commission: Adviser of the UN Secretary General in Kosovo Carl Bildt; Prof. Krister Wahlback (Sweden); Karlis Kangeris (Zviedrija); Prof. Per Ahlmark (Sweden); Prof. George D. Schwab (USA); Prof. Alfred Erich Senn (USA); Prof. Erwin Oberlander (Germany); Prof. David Cesarani (Great Britain); Prof. Norman M. Naimark (USA); Prof. Alain Besancon (France); Prof. Aleksandr Cubarjan (Russia); Stewen Springfield (President of Jewish Survivors of Latvia).