The Entries of the Competition to Create a Monument to Latvian Legionnaires are Now on Display

The Entries of the Competition to Create a Monument to Latvian Legionnaires are Now on Display

2017. gada 14. oktobris

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is displaying the sculptor’s models which were presented in the competition to build a memorial for Latvian prisoners of war: “A MONUMENT TO FREEDOM”. The monument is dedicated to the Legionnaires who, once the Second World War had ended, were sent to Zedelgem by the British as prisoners of war. The competition ended with Kristaps Gulbis' work “LATVIAN BEEHIVE” being declared the winner, and work on making the idea of the monument a reality has begun. The monument is expected to be opened in Zedelgem in autumn 2018. The museum is still calling for donations in order to create the monument.

The competition was announced by the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia and the Municipality of Zedelgem (Belgium) in the summer, in 2017, and five Latvian scultptors were invited: Aigars Bikše, Ojārs Feldbergs, Kristaps Gulbis, Pauls Jaunzems and Gļebs Panteļējevs.

The Monument to Freedom is meant to symbolise the concept of freedom within the context of the 11, 727 Latvian and other Baltic soldiers kept in the British POW camp in Zedelgem. The soldiers had been forced to fight on the side of one foreign power hostile to Latvian independence – Nazi Germany – against the other equally hostile foreign power – the Soviet Union. They surrendered to the Western Allies at the end of World War II hoping for understanding and assistance, and became captives of the British. While in captivity, they marked the 27th anniversary of the independence of Latvia on 18 November 1945 by erecting a scale replica of the Latvian Freedom Monument in Riga. In December they founded a welfare organization Daugavas Vanagi (Hawks of the Daugava River) that kept alive the idea of a free and independent Latvia, while Latvia was occupied and ruled by the Soviet Union. Latvian soldiers in Zedelgem gained their personal freedom in May 1946, but many of them did not live to see the day when Latvia regained its freedom and independence in 1991. The Monument will be erected in a new city square named Brivibaplein (Freedom Square), about three km from the former POW camp.


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