Open-air exhibit to show destruction of war in Latvian cities

This week, the exhibition "1944 – The War-Caused Fractures in Latvian Urban Landscape" will be opened at the Freedom Monument. An open-air exhibition, with the help of historical images, tells the story of the destruction of the most damaged cities in Latvia in World War II, Latvian Radio reported on May 7.

The authors of the exhibition are historians Valdis Kuzmins, Uldis Neiburgs, and Jānis Tomaševskis. The makers draw attention to the fact that the exhibition reminds us of the devastating effects of the war also in the context of the current Russian war in Ukraine.

"In this exhibition, we talk about six cities – Rēzekne, Gulbene, Bauska, Jelgava, Valmiera, and Rīga, which show the story of how cities die. We tried to show three stages of what the city looks like before the war, then during the war, and also what these places look like these days," the historian of the War Museum Jānis Tomaševskis said. 

Showing historical images of the rubble of houses in cities, the historian points out that much of the buildings in these places could have been renovated: "Those buildings that had suffered from air strikes had mostly been burnt on the roof and the interior, with walls left. They could be restored, clearly, it could have been more complicated and also more expensive, but on the other hand, it was a cultural and historical legacy that gives the city a face that people also come here to look at, they don't come to look at these Soviet block houses. It was also a clear political message that - no, the buildings that were there are the past and now we will build this new Soviet architecture."

An exhibition of the devastation of war will be unveiled on the day of the destruction of Nazism and the commemoration of the victims of World War II, May 8. At Brīvības Square in Riga, it will be viewable until May 17 and displayed later in several Latvian cities.

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