A popular science publication about the cultural history of Liepāja from the 19th to the 21st century is in progress

A popular science publication about the cultural history of Liepāja from the 19th to the 21st century is in progress

The Liepāja 2027 Foundation, in partnership with the Liepāja University professor Zanda Gūtmane and a team of skilled writers, has initiated a project to publish a contemporary popular science publication titled “Liepāja. Culture. Memory”. This publication seeks to explore pivotal milestones and events that have had a lasting impact on Liepāja’s cultural heritage, spanning from the late 19th century to the 21st century. The release of this two-volume work is scheduled for autumn 2025.

The chief editor of the “Liepāja. Culture. Memory” book is Dr. philol. Zanda Gūtmane, with support from scientific advisors Dr. hist. Mārtiņš Mintaurs and Liepāja history researcher Gunārs Silakaktiņš. The book’s chapters will be written by various scholars in the fields of culture, literature, and history, with artistic design contributions from Ieva Vīriņa.

“As the inaugural project under the expansive banner of Liepāja’s European Capital of Culture 2027 initiative, “Liepāja. Culture. Memory” serves as a touching and emblematic tribute to the city’s intricate cultural narrative, which not only enriches our local heritage but also resonates with the hearts of fellow Europeans”, says Baiba Bartkeviča, the Artistic Director of Liepāja 2027, encapsulating that, “It unveils the many facets of our city, connecting the threads of history and culture that bind us within the tapestry of the European family”.

This publication will unveil the hidden historical and shared “fixed points of memory” of Liepāja. These include locations, events, incidents, institutions, and notable figures that have been pivotal in shaping Liepāja’s identity and its close-knit community, while also contributing to its evolution as a European city. Unbiased historical perspective and fact-based content will be coupled with literary and artistic interpretations, as well as individual accounts of memories, creating so called “fixed memory points” and marking a legacy in contemporary culture.

The first volume will cover the period from the 19th century to the WWII, while the second volume will focus on Liepāja after the WWII up to the present day.

In Volume 1, the spotlight will shine on Liepāja’s global outlook. It will explore the construction of the Liepāja – Romny railroad, the expansion of the port, the establishment of Karosta, and ferry connections to New York, London, and Copenhagen. This volume will also capture the rapid evolution of architectural aesthetics with Art Nouveau elements. Alongside, readers will uncover the transformation of Liepāja into a vibrant resort, the emergence of professional cultural institutions, its crucial role in Latvia’s path to an independent state, and how a diverse and multicultural society shaped the city’s remarkable development.

Volume 2 delves deep into the poignant chapters of Liepāja’s history, shedding light on the city’s profound losses endured during two occupation regimes. It touches upon the grim realities of deportations, the Holocaust, the huge refugee flows from Liepāja in 1944 to the West, and the operations of the Soviet secret police – NKVD. In a thought-provoking chapter titled “Closed for the West, Open for the East”, writers and researchers unravel the new rules and innovations of the Soviet era. Meanwhile, “The Drive for Freedom Behind the Iron Curtain” will tell us about the processes that gradually paved the path for the Awakening (Atmoda), leading to the present-day identity of Liepāja.

The publication will be released in both Latvian and English, with an initial print run of 5000 copies. It serves as an excellent gift option for city partners and guests and will also be also available for purchase at Latvian bookstores and various locations within Liepāja.