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Working paper

Changing Historical Cultures, Changing Appraisals of Baltic Germans’ Place in Latvia’s History

Humanities. HUM. Basic Research Programme, 2016. No. WP BRP 141/HUM/2016.
This article analyzes changes in contemporary Latvian historical culture as regards the place it assigns to Baltic Germans in the country's past. During most of the twentieth century, their past presence in the region was represented as not really important. German noblemen and burghers were reckoned to the exploitative classes and, as such, received negative appraisal. After Latvia became independent from the USSR, German heritage came to be cherished as a symbol of Latvia’s Europeanness and a major attraction for international tourists, which is especially visible in Riga. In smaller towns, such as Koknese, partnership with a German town may originate from historic ties linking former Baltic Germans to the place, but this does not necessarily involve a historical policy emphasizing their positive presence in the history of the town. In the rural community of Irši, a transformation of the local historical culture largely takes place under the influence of the so-called ‘homesick tourists’ from Germany who come to visit the former German colony Hirschenhof that existed between 1766 and 1939.