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 A “Monument to Freedom” Will Be Built in Zedelgem Dedicated to Prisoners of War – To the Latvian Legionnaires

A “Monument to Freedom” Will Be Built in Zedelgem Dedicated to Prisoners of War – To the Latvian Legionnaires

2017. gada 19. septembris

The town of Zedelgem (in Belgium), in cooperation with the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, has decided to erect a monument to Latvian soldiers who, after the end of the Second World War, came to Zedelgem as prisoners of war. The monument will be built according to the design “Latvian Beehive” by sculptor Kristaps Gulbjs’

In order to find the best design for the memorial – “Monument to Freedom” – a closed competition was held between five Latvian sculptors, who created and submitted 6 different ideas. On 16 September 2017 a Belgium and Latvian jury chose the winner, Kristaps Gulbis, for his idea “Latvian Beehive”. For first place there was a prize of 2000 euros, for second place Ģļebs Panteļējevs received 1000 euros for his sculptor “Freedom Tree”, and for third place Pauls Jaunzems received 500 euros for his design “Three Stars”.

A “Monument to Freedom” expresses freedom in its symbolic sense, however, its context is a reminder that in Zedelgem, after the Second World War, the British made a Prisoner of War camp, where they put soldiers from Latvia and the other Baltic States, who, through forced mobilization, fought in the war in the German military forces.

The monument will be located in the new district of the town, in the square called “Brivibaplein” – “Freedom Square”. It is located about three kilometres away from the former prisoner of war camp. The town has decided that they will also open the surviving barracks of the camp.

1st Place and a 2000 Euro Prize – Artist Kritstaps GULBIS for the Design “LATVIAN BEEHIVE”.              

From the author’s description: “My idea is to unite in this monument the common European values and symbolic language understood by all Europeans with something special and visually characteristic only to Latvia. The Latvian bee colony in Belgium. The bee colony is a nation. The hive is their state with its own army, law and order. Bees are peaceful. They do not attack of their own accord. They sting only when they feel threatened. They defend, fight and die for their hive, colony and FREEDOM. [...] In Zedelgem camp there were around 12,000 Latvian soldiers. This is equivalent to the number of bees in a hive.”

The jury’s comments: The compelling content and form encompasses the universal values and symbolic language understood by all Europeans, and characteristic signs of the Latvian landscape. There are extensive and in-depth circles of association, a variety of artistic imagery, and successful solutions in a professional sense – the scale; the material’s compatibility and connectivity; flexible dimensions; suitability to the particular environment; resistance to weather condition and human interaction; the clarity of the line and form; the recognition of monuments as one of the fundamental values of Latvian sculpture. The balance of forms expresses the eternity of nature which provokes silent reflection, and the sound (the humming vibration of the bees’ wings) reminds us of life, vitality and the work we do to bring each person inner freedom and the convergence of the collective ideals of society. The jury specifically noted the degree of legibility of the submitted design, the work invested and the quality of its presentation.  

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