Video: The intellectual resistance of Rīga's "French Group"

The third episode of Latvian Television's series of short history documentaries is now available to watch online, complete with English subtitles.

This week the subject is an important example of ideological resistance to Soviet occupation and intellectual oppression from a perhaps unexpected source: French writer Andre Gide, whose powerful disavowal of Stalinism gave strength to a group of Francophile Latvian intellectuals.

They met in private on a regular basis to discuss things with a freedom impossible to replicate in public, yet even this activity was to have fateful consequences and members of the group were rounded up, interrogated and charged with treason for reading Gide's banned books.

Nor did the ramifications end there - the consequences for members of the group were to last a lifetime, as the documentary powerfully recounts.

According to LTV "The Keys" will tell of the most important or "key" events, personalities and turning points in the history of the Latvian state from 1918 to the present. The purpose is to reveal each selected event from an unusual point of view, as if "unlocking the door" to lesser known and therefore particularly intriguing facts. 

"Such an exploratory approach, bypassing the usual stereotypes of presenting history, will allow viewers to perceive what is known to others and to better understand what has happened in the context of today's experience," says LTV.

Throughout the year, Latvian history will be told in 'mixed order' - events will not be sequenced year by year, but viewed in the exact month in which they occurred. For example, this first episode is devoted to the events of the January 1991 barricades, the second will be a miraculous story from January 1946, when Baltic war refugees established their university in Germany, the third the Soviet repression of Rīga intellectuals in January 1951. and the fourth will be concerned with the 1992 Winter Olympics, where Latvia, after regaining its independence, was re-admitted to the World Olympic Family. 

The show is made by VFS Films, a long-time partner of Latvian Television and it is hosted by Mārtiņš Ķibilds, a distinguished cultural journalist who sadly passed away late last year.

LSM previously summarised the content of the show at the time of its Latvian release.

 

 

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