The peace treaty, signed August 11, 1920, between Latvia and Soviet Russia, put an end to the War of Independence. Today, August 11, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Poland and Finland, will arrive in Riga to mark the occasion. The War Museum celebrates this anniversary with a new exhibition.
The exhibition “Whispers of freedom: the loss and recovery of Latvia's independence. 1940-1990” is not a retelling of an academic history book. It is based on symbols and feelings so that people think about what constitutes their freedom - both personal and state-level, said the authors of the exhibition.
“Freedom, like much else, is taken for granted. Anything taken for granted, common, loses value,” noted Māris Zaļeckis, historian of the Latvian War Museum.
A short film describing Latvian-Russian Peace Treaty signed in Riga, August 11, 2020 pic.twitter.com/89vTVZeiZy— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) August 11, 2020
At the center of the installation is the peace agreement itself. It aims to show that legal mechanisms guaranteeing security and freedom are very fragile and volatile, especially when totalitarian regimes come to power.
“The treaty, which clearly states in two languages that Russia is abandoning any claims on the territory of Latvia, is being violated and the occupation of Latvia takes place in 1940,” said Zaļeckis.
The exhibition also shows people who did not want to stay in Latvia when the Soviet regime was established. “They chose to preserve this freedom elsewhere by moving to lands not occupied by Soviet troops. It was Western Europe at first,” said historian of the Latvian War Museum, Ainis Lociks.
The exhibition shows how Latvians lived in exile, how they felt freedom and how they fought for free Latvia.
Latvian War Museum, Smilsu Street 20 (Pulvertornis) is open daily 10:00-18:00.
The original of the Treaty of Peace will be on public display at the Latvian National History Museum at Brīvības bulvāris 32, from 12 to 28 August.