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A new, notable permanent exhibition "Latvian Population in World War I"

09.01.2017

Latvian War museum is one of the most popular places not only for the local residents, but also for the foreign tourists.

In January, 100 years will have passed since the most significant battles of the World War I took place in Latvia. Two newly formed brigades of the Latvian riflemen took part in these battles and proved that the Latvian soldiers should be reckoned with as a serious military force.

Many legends are told about the Christmas Battles, being named both as example of the heroism expressed by the Latvian riflemen and as a systematic destruction of the Latvian soldiers by using them as cannon fodder.

"At the same time, the heroism of the riflemen displayed during the Christmas Battles and later battles in January built the self-confidence of the Latvian nation and showed the Latvian soldiers as a military force that was no worse than the Russian and German soldiers," states the history researcher Juris Ciganovs.

In order to provide a deeper insight into the battles that took place 100 years ago and into other events of the World War I, Latvian War museum has created a new permanent exhibition "Latvian Population in World War I" that the people interested in history might find fascinating.

It is the most expanded history tale available to the public, telling of World War I in Latvia that created prerequisites for establishment of a Latvian state in 1918.

The extensive exhibition located within an area that covers 380 square metres consists of two thematic blocks. First part is dedicated to the events of World War I in Europe and Latvia, and the second part deals with political and military changes in 1917 involving the Latvian riflemen in the Russian Civil War.

Exhibition of the Latvian War museum portrays World War I as a total war that involved both the soldiers on the front lines and the civilians at the rear. Thus, a significant part of the exhibition has been devoted to the process of return of the civilians and Latvian riflemen from Russia and camps of war prisoners. Exhibition chronologically includes the period from 1914 to 1922.

Exhibition is formed out of 1230 historical testimonies. Among the most valuable items should be mentioned, for example, German 250 mm trench mortar "Albrecht", 1917 Belgian army experimental model helmet "Queen Elizabeth", and a cane made by an Austro-Hungarian prisoner of war.

Latvian War museum is one of the most popular places to visit not only by the local residents, but also by the foreign guests. Admission is free. The number of museum visitors increases from year to year, and on average it reaches approximately 140 thousand per year.

Specialist of the museum Mārtiņš Mitenbergs emphasises: "It is difficult to mention a specific country; in terms of visitors it is a complete bouquet. The new exhibition is dubbed in English, providing an opportunity for a wide range of history lovers to learn about the World War I in Latvia. However, it should be noted that in terms of layout design the exhibition is rather intended for individual visits and not large groups of tourists."

The new exhibition "Latvian Population in World War I" is dedicated to the State of Latvia on its hundredth birthday on 18 November 2018.

The Latvian War museum is one of the oldest and largest museums in Latvia. It was founded in 1916 as the Latvian riflemen museum. Since 1919 the museum is located in the Powder Tower (14th century), one of the former fortification towers of Riga.

The museum’s aim is to reveal to the public the complex military and political history of Latvia, with particular emphasis on the 20th century, during which the Latvian nation had to fight for its independence twice.