Monthly Archives: April 2010

Modern History in Latvia

Arveds Švābe (1888.-1959) the prominent Latvian Modern history researcher

Modern History or Modern Era in Latvia started in 16. century. According to Latvian way of teaching it lasted until 20. century when so-called “Most Modern era” started. So 16.-19. century is divided in Latvian history as Modern Era or New Era (Jaunie Laiki).

16.-19. century is profoundly studied by Latvian Historians. In first period of Latvian independence prominent Latvian historian was Arveds Švābe (1888.-1959) He published numerous works on Medieval and Modern History in 20. century thirties. He did outstanding work in making Latvian Conversation dictionary– the first multi-volume Latvian encyclopedia. It is still useful today for writing history works. After World war II he exiled to Sweden where he continued his work in Latvian History. In 1958.   he finished monumental work “History of Latvia 1800.-1914″. In exile another prominent Latvian historian was Edgars Dunsdorfs (1904.-2002.). He stared his carrier in late thirties but exiled after world war to Australia. In exile he did outstanding achievement in publishing works covering Latvian history from 1500. to 20. century. His works are still obligatory for those who want to study Modern History in Latvia. There were also German and Russian historians before world war who worked in Latvia. German historian Leonid Arbuzov junior (1881.-1951. yes he was German) and Russian historian Robert Viper (1859.-1954). Both of them made outstanding achievements in Medieval and Modern History.

In times of Soviet Occupation the aspects of Modern History. History was adapted to Marxist ideology concerning mainly on clash between classes. It was important to show struggle of Latvian peasants against capitalist rulers. National aspects of history were weakened. However there were many good historians like Jānis Zutis (1893.-1962) . He did outstanding work in academic field just like Arveds Švābe before him. Works by historians of this time were nevertheless important for the future.

After the end of Soviet occupation Modern History was again free from foreign influence. In time first independence Latvian historian were more nationalist in their interpretation. Nowadays most historians try to be more balanced as possible in this manner. Gvido Straube is leading new generation historian of Latvian Modern history. He also the current Dean of Faculty of History and Philosophy one of the most popular Dean’s around University of Latvia. So far however in this past 20. years no complete work on Latvian History has not been written.   Still main universal sources are either works done in exile or Soviet Latvia. There is a need for new universal work done by Latvian present day historians. However the limits of history funding in Latvia disallows for doing so. Latvian state officially more focuses on history of 2o. century. In this field more publications are written than in other subject.

Modern History is full of events in Latvia. Some of them will be discussed here in future.


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