Eiropas apvienošanās kustība un mēs (The European Unification Movement and Us)Modris K. Gulbis, 1948
Until we came across this work, we believed there was only one debate over Latvia's place in the European Union: the post-Soviet era dialogue which culminated in Latvia's "return to Europe" when it acceded to the European Union on May 1, 2004. However, Modris Gulbis' 1948 monograph Eiropas apvienošanās kustība un mēs (The European unification movement and us) in ''LATVJU RAKSTI EIROPAS VIENĪBAI" Nr. 1, the inaugural issue of The Latvian Journal for European Unification, demonstrates a far earlier awareness of European unification: its necessity to the long-term survival of Europe and to freedom for the Baltic states. Modris Kārlis Gulbis (January 11, 1927–October 13, 2002) was a young political activist living in his fourth year of exile from his homeland when he authored this booklet. Gulbis was born in Tērvete parish in Jelgava county, the youngest son of minister Pēteris Gulbis. He involved himself in the St. Peter's congregation youth group in Rīga; the family fled the Soviet reinvasion, winding up in Germany in 1944, spending most of the post-war DP period in the British zone, but also American. His address listed on the monograph is the Lincoln Barracks (Lincoln-Kaserne), the army barracks at Dreizehnerstrasse in Münster, Germany—repurposed to house displaced persons in August, 1948. Gulbis emigrated to the U.S. in 1950, married Aina Garjane in Canada, then commenced his theology studies in 1951 at the Central Lutheran Seminary in Fremont, Nebraska, graduating and being ordained in 1953. His first congregations were small local ones in Nebraska. The Church invited him to Whitehorse, the capital of the Canadian Yukon Territory, to establish the first Lutheran church in northern Canada. Gulbis became active in the ecumenical movement and continued his studies in the preparation of materials for Christian instruction. He moved to Manitoba in 1966 but soon after accepted an invitation in 1969 from the Minneapolis Latvian Lutheran Church to become their assistant minister. In 1972 the Minneapolis Latvian Lutheran congregation split; he established and became minister of the Christ Latvian church. Gulbis also obtained his Masters in Theology in 1972, followed by a Doctor of Divinity in 1982. Gulbis' service to the church was life-long—Gulbis ministered to his his congregation until his passing in 2002. Psychology and—unsurprisingly, politics—remained life-long interests and passions. We are privileged and gratified to share this insight into the post-war activism of the Baltic exile community.
Our sincerest thanks to Reverend Modris Gulbis' wife, Aina Gulbis, for her generous permission to share these early years of her husband's political activism and idealism, a window to the European hopes aspirations of the WWII exile—Gulbis uses the term "trimda"—Latvian community.
Biographical information and portrait from MINEAPOLES-ST. PAULAS LATVIEŠU EVANĢELISKI-LUTERISKĀ BAZNĪCA PIECDESMIT GADI DIEVA DRUVĀ, 1951-2001, the 50th anniversary history of the Lutheran church in Minneapolis-St. Paul. You can read more about the history of Latvians in Minneapolis in Andris Straumanis' article, Publishing, arts among Minneapolis contributions, at LATVIANSONLINE.COM. More on the Lincoln Barracks is available here (in German).
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