The Story of Latvia—A Historical SurveyArveds Švābe. Latvian National Foundation, Stockholm. 1949

Growing up, Peters got to spend his Saturdays going to Latvian school, studying grammar, literature, geography, history... there was a time that Peters could recite the entire history of Latvia from the Ice Age. Of course, that was quite some time ago, and all in Latvian from Latvian history books, some mimeographed—remember that purplish ink on coated paper?

It wasn't until we ran across "The Story of Latvia - A Historical Survey", by Professor Dr. Arveds Švābe (published in 1949), that we found as thorough a recounting of Latvia's history—starting at the Ice Age—and in English. And concise enough to make for an evening or two of reading. Our thanks to the Latvian National Foundation for their permission to reproduce it here on our website. Please note, LNF retains all rights to these materials.

A few words on Dr. Arveds Švābe, from the Latvian Academy of Sciences web site...with some minor editing...

Arveds ŠVĀBE (1888-1959) - historian, lawyer, writer. Professor of the University of Latvia (1932-1940), director of the History Depository (1941-1944). Emigrated to Germany in 1944, moved to Sweden in 1949 where he worked in the Archives of the University of Stockholm. A compiler and editor-in-chief of "The Conversational Encyclopaedia of Latvia" (Latvijas konversacijas vardnica), vol.1-21, 1927-1940. Has edited "The Latvian Encyclopaedia" (Latvju enciklopedija), vol.1-3, 1950-1955, Supplements, 1962. Has investigated the history of Latvia ("History of Latvia. 1800-1914", 1958). Has written on folklore, literary criticism, history of literature, has prepared biographical reviews (essays). Also a poet, prosaist, publicist and translator.

Student and lover of history, of the sciences, of language—for example, translating Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha into Latvian. Unabashed champion of Latvians and Latvia. Today, sixty-eight years later, Švābe's writing style might seem overly impassioned or, at times, chauvanistic and opinionated; Švābe does not spare the "contemplative" Russians or the the Germans, deemed "mentally inferior" because they "regard war and obedience to the Führer as the highest national virtue." One would think that the average brain mass of Latvian males and females would make for dry reading (page 4 in the original); instead, it's at once engaging, informative, and—most of all—a touchstone for the thoroughness with which he relates the story of the Latvian people and nation he so loved. If Švābe's writing betrays his emotions, consider the time and circumstances under which this work was written: making a plea on behalf of the homeland Latvians had just lost, as tens of thousands strove to preserve their heritage and make sense of their lives, living in DP camps in Germany and scattered around the globe.

Whatever official Russia attempts to pass off as history, the facts speak as plainly now as they did then.

Additional Reading

...Timeline...Exiles' Calendar 1947Latviesu Trimdinieka Kalendars 1947 (The Latvian Exile's Calendar 1947). Complete facsimile (Latvian) and poetry translations; published in the D.P. camps, 1947 Fischbach Song FestivalDziesmu Diena Fišbachā (Fischbach Song Festival), Kārlis Puriņš. Viktors Puriņš. 1948. Latvians in the Displaced Persons camps of Fischbach and Märzfeld in Nuremberg and environs gather to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the First Latvian Song Festival. Album of 24 pictures, with foreword by composer and Fischbach DP camp elder Jēkabs Poruks. European Unification and LatviaEiropas apvienošanās kustība un mēs (The European unification movement and us), Modris Gulbis, 1948. The necessity of a European Union to the welfare of the European continent and to Latvia Anna Dārziņa Post Card SetLatvian folk costumes, Anna Dāŗziņa. Esslingen DP Camp, Jānis Liepiņš, ca. 1949. Artist Anna Dāŗziņa's illustrations of Latvian folk costumes. Set of 18 postcards. Pīrāgi & GalertsLatviska un Moderna Virtuve (The Latvian and Modern Kitchen), Fischbach D.P. Camp, Germany, 1949. Traditional Latvian recipes, excerpts and translations The Story of LatviaThe Story of Latvia—A Historical Survey. Arveds Švābe. Latvian National Foundation, Stockholm. 1949. Švābe's concise history of Latvia, from the Balts inhabiting what is today western Russia through the continuation of Soviet occupation into the post-WWII era. First USA Song FestivalThe First Latvian Song Festival in America, various, Chicago, 1953. Mixed choir participants' music. 21 songs, complete Festival of Lithuanian Art and MusicFestival of Lithuanian Art and Music, Washington, D.C., 1953. Lithuanian exile community celebrates the anniversary of Lithuania's original founding with art, a concert, and banquet in Washington, D.C. Festival program. Müürisepp's Soviet EstoniaEstonia, Wonderful Present—Marvellous Future, Aleksei Müürisepp. Soviet Booklets, London. 1959. Career apparatchik and then soon-to-be Estonian SSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Алексей Александрович Мюрисеп waxes eloquently of life under the U.S.S.R., one of a series of propaganda booklets produced about each of the fifteen Soviet Republics. Lācis' Soviet LatviaLatvia—Our Dream is Coming True, Vilis Lācis. Soviet Booklets, London. 1959. Popular author during Latvia's independence and Soviet sympathizer signing deportation orders sending families to frosty death, Vilis Lācis, writes of the materialization of Latvian dreams under the U.S.S.R., one of a series of booklets produced about each of the fifteen Soviet Republics. Abrene Fold-outAbrene Women's Folk Costume. Latvian State Publishing House, ca. 1960.Abrene women's folk costume illustrated multi-lingual reference fold-out.
"The Story of Latvia-A Historical Survey" reproduced by permission.
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