Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
March 14, 2009
From journal Riga: Museums and Monuments
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
October 16, 2007
From journal Riga - The Bad Boy of the Baltics
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
December 21, 2004
As with many other works of public art, particularly within the Baltics, the monument’s own history serves to deepen the meaning of what it was intended it represent. Erected in 1935 during Latvia’s brief period of independence, the ensemble was designed by Ernests Shtalbergs, while the sculptures and friezes were designed and executed by Karlis Zale, the foremost Latvian sculptor of his day. Sadly, five years later Latvia was under Soviet occupation, which did not end (bar a three-year period of Nazi rule) until 1991.
Unconvinced by Latvians’ claims that the statue actually represented the three Baltic states returning to the arms of Mother Russia (which would have required an Orwellian interpretation of the inscription beyond even Stalin’s comprehension), the Soviet authorities put the monument under heavy guard. Rigans grimly joked that during the Soviet era, it became a travel agency, and anyone who laid flowers at the base was "given" a one-way ticket to Siberia.
Nevertheless, the monument remained, and it became a focal point for demonstrations demanding the return of Latvia’s independence during the 1980s. After this goal was achieved in 1991, it was here that American President Bill Clinton, flanked by his Latvian counterpart Guntas Ulmanis, spoke welcomed Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania back to the community of free nations on July 6, 1994. Today, omnipresent flowers at its base testify to the monument’s historical role, and it’s also a popular meeting place.
If you can, try to watch the changing of the honor guard at the statue, which occurs daily from 9am to 6pm, on the hour. Regrettably, their brown uniforms bear a striking similarity to those of Latvia’s former Nazi occupiers.
From journal Riga: Historic and Vibrant Baltic Metropolis