Museum of Occupations
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If you are to understand anything about Latvia and its people, then the Museum of Occupations should be your first point of call in Riga. After the Nazi occupation during the war, Latvia passed into Stalin's hands post 1945. The following years saw the Latvian people terrorised by Russian totalitarian ideals, with thousands deported to the gulags whilst the rest endured a programme of 'Russification' - as the USSR tried to suppress and kill any sense of Latvian identity. The Museum combines information boards, video, exhibits and even mock-ups of what a Siberian gulag barrack looked like to bring the full force of the horrors across. The first hand accounts of the 'parashas' (prisoners' toilets) make particularly grim reading.
Editor & Riga Local
This is the most harrowing yet revealing museum. My father is Latvian so I am fascinated by the history. I first went to the museum in 2005 and it gets better each time. My son learned so much about his Latvian family there.
It's so good to see many people emphasize with the small Latvian nation and has visited the Occupation Museum. Sad that few people think only of the less than 1 percent who actually were villains and should be condemned. Remember that small countries in WWII did not have rights to resist to Mr. Hitler nor to Stalin, it was pretty much - you're in or you and your family dies. None of the collaboration was voluntary, faking documents made it look as voluntary. It is really absurd that Soviets get away with Holocaust sizes of massacres including Katyn but Baltic countries have to take the blame for those few who thought it would be good idea to escape Soviet monsters and join Nazis. Another point awkward for Western allies - British denied the help that was promised to Latvians who wanted to get rid of both oppressors and nothing else. 16th of March is for handful of old men who want to place flowers to those who were killed under foreign flag for nothing. Nothing to do with Nazi celebration - this is pure smear campaign. Does anyone is concerned about Russian Soviet leftovers celebrating 9th of May shamelessly?How can that be tolerated?
If all this seems to biased for you here are just two of the credible accounts from primary sources - 'Living Amidst Latvian during Holocaust' by E.Anders and the documentary 'Controversial History' by film studio DEVINI.
I completely agree with Andrew whilst Latvians continue to celebrate the 16 March as a day of liberation when in actual fact they became on that day part of an SS detachment is completely unacceptable for a country that wishes to be seen as being progressive. A section devoted to the Holocaust and Latvian collaboration in mass murders of Jews needs to be addressed in the museum of occupation no matter how painful and shameful it is for Latvians to take on board this part of their history.
I know through family that we can never understand the control tyrants can have on our actions.Threats made or implied.Threats carried out.I believe the museum did a good job of showing the horrific things done to many people.
They would do well do show the atrocities committed by Latvian SS and Arajs commandos against Jews after the Soviets were chased out in 1941. Most of those murdered were peasants who had nothing to do with communism. Not to condone Soviet oppression, but Latvia has failed to own up to the degree of collaboration with Hitler.
Interesting museum, however there should be more focus on the struggle of the Forrest Brothers in the post-war era. As archives in both the Soviet Union and the UK are available now, more effort should be put into investigating the resistance movement in the Baltic countries after WW 2. Especially Operation Jungle (and the treacherous role Kim Philby played) deserves a closer look into...
A fascinating, but horrifying museum. It made me realise how pervasive the whole system of oppression was. Using fear to control everyone. And how easy it is for such a system to take hold, and how hard to shake off. It made me think we are basically bad as humans, only laws stop us form behaving like tyrants.
An important place to visit. Harrowing, touching, makes people like me from Western Europe realise how lucky we have had life for so long (and also why people from Eastern Europe seem to have much more dignity and sense of culture than us)
Superb museum that really brought home the horrors that the Latvians had to endure. Excellent exhibits include the actual treaties that the Germans/Soviets reneged on