Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
During the plenary meeting of the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research on 9 June 2004 in Rome, Latvia was admitted to the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research as a permanent member.
Members of the Task Force are representatives of governments, state and non-governmental organisations. The goal of the organisation is to gain support from political and public leaders both at the international and national level. The Task Force was established at the initiative of Sweden’s Prime Minister Göran Persson in May 1998, and since then its membership has grown to 18 nations (Sweden, Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain, Luxemburg, the USA, Lithuania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Norway, and – as of 2004 – also Latvia and Denmark).
On 9 December 2003, Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers adopted a decision on Latvia’s joining the Task Force and appointed Andris Teikmanis, Under-Secretary of State of Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Head of the Latvian delegation. As of 2005, Latvia’s annual membership fee to the organisation will be USD 25,000. At the same time, through co-financing education and research projects of the Task Force, Latvia will have the possibility to attract much greater resources.
Latvia’s cooperation with the International Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research
Pursuing the course of action as voiced by Vaira Vike-Freiberga at the Stockholm Forum in January 2001, Latvia to date has cooperated with the International Task Force on individual liaison projects. In 2001, the joint work of state and non-governmental organisations produced the first action plan for Holocaust education, remembrance and research comprising twelve projects, which provided for teachers’ seminars, translation of relevant literature into Latvian, organisation of exhibitions, and other activities.
On matters of the Holocaust, Latvia has for several years been working in several directions, involving numerous cooperation partners.
1. Holocaust research. The Commission of the Historians of Latvia established in 1998 has organised several international conferences devoted to the Holocaust. Six out of the eleven published editions are devoted to this topic.
2. Holocaust education. Since 2000, seven training seminars for Latvian history teachers on the methodology of teaching about the Holocaust have been held in the cities of Ligatne, Riga, Jekabpils, Valmiera, Liepaja, and Rezekne. The seminars were organized by the History Teachers’ Association of Latvia with the support of the Swedish Institute, Swedish organisation The Living History Forum, US Embassy in Riga, Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Science, and the Commission of the Historians of Latvia. Around 350 teachers have participated in these seminars.
At the beginning of 2004, 22 Latvian teachers participated in the methodology seminars in Luxemburg and Belgium.
3. Perpetuation of memory. Since 2001 the travelling exhibition “Jewish Community of Latvia: History, Tragedy, Rebirth” has been shown in 12 locations of Latvia, including the cities of Liepaja, Daugavpils, Rezekne, Ludza, Valmiera, Riga, and Jekabpils. At present the exhibition can be seen at the “Synagogue” – the restored centre for contemporary art and cultural heritage in the town of Sabile. The exhibition was prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the museum Jews in Latvia, the US Embassy, and the Institute of Latvian History.
Latvian local governments and foreign supporters have assisted in the building and reconstruction of the Jewish memorials in Bikernieki, Rumbula, Auce and Liepaja.
A Collection of Biographies of 100 outstanding Latvian-born Jews was published in 2003 by joint efforts of the Centre for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia, museum Jews in Latvia, and the US Embassy.
The Cabinet of Ministers adopted a decision on 9 December 2003 to support the erection of a monument to Zanis Lipke and other rescuers of Jews in Latvia, and allocated LVL 10,000 for this purpose.
A new project is now being launched to inform and educate the public on these matters – a website Latvian Jewish Community. The Project has been implemented with the support of Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Latvian Jewish Community, Democracy Commission of the US Embassy, Bauska Museum of Art and Local Studies, and the museum Jews in Latvia. Information on the Latvian Jewish Community, its history, tragedy and life today in Latvian and in English is available on the website (http://www.ebreji.lv and http://www.jews.lv).
Plans for 2004 and 2005
In 2005 the Ministry of Education and the US Embassy in Riga, in cooperation with the University of Iowa, will work to develop an ethics and Holocaust curriculum project for primary and secondary schools. An application for financing has been submitted to the International Task Force. The total expenditure of the two-year project targeted to extend the Latvian teachers’ knowledge of methodology has been estimated above USD 280,000.
The following activities have been proposed to the International Task Force for financing in 2004:
– a long-term project of the Centre for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia “Names of Holocaust victims: Memorial List of Latvian Jewish Community 1941-1945” (In 2002/2003, co-financing of approximately USD 15,000 was received from the International Task Force.).
– a seminar for history teachers on the methodology of teaching about the Holocaust in August 2004 in Liepaja;
– publishing of a bibliographical dictionary of Latvian Jews-victims of the Holocaust, by the museum Jews in Latvia.
An International Conference devoted to the issues of the Holocaust research and education is planned at the end of 2005. The Conference will seek to evaluate the experience of the Holocaust research and education in Latvia, in other EU member states, and in the EU neighbour countries in Eastern Europe.
The total amount claimed from the International Task Force this year is approximately EUR 72,921.
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