An exhibition entitled “We want to be free, we will be free!” has opened at the Educational Centre of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Warsaw.
Prepared by the National Archives of Latvia in cooperation with the Central State Archives in Lithuania, the National Archives of Estonia, the National Archives of Finland and Poland’s IPN, the exhibition marks the centenary of the regaining of independence by Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
In his remarks during the opening ceremony, IPN Chairman Jarosław Szarek recalled the road to independence of the Baltic countries and Poland.
He said that the pilgrimage to Poland by Pope John Paul II in June 1979 and his words “Let the Holy Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, of this earth” proved to be a stimulus for the overthrow of communism in Poland and in the Eastern bloc.
The Lithuanian ambassador to Poland, Eduardas Borisovas, said that, while celebrating the centenary of independence, the five decades of Soviet occupation of the Baltic states should not be forgotten.
“This painful history of our countries tells us that we have to remember history and make sure that the young generations do not forget about the events of 100 years ago,” he added.
Exhibition curator Mara Sprudza, director of the National Archives in Riga, said that the central message of the event is to stress that independence is not to be taken for granted but is “a fragile value that has to be protected and strengthened all the time.”
The exhibition focuses on the shaping of the Latvian state in the context of the history of neighbouring Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Finland and Poland, all of which were established or revived in the aftermath of World War I and celebrated the centenary of their independence in 2017-2018.
The exhibition is in English. It runs until February 11.