Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Center for Baltic HeritageCulture and history along the eastern Baltic Sea
The Baltic past is rich in ancient cultural treasures and in the geopolitical lessons it teaches, as relevant to today as when Count Shuvalov, Russian governor-general of the Baltic provinces, first stated:
“The historical mission of the Baltic provinces is to serve as a battlefield for the problems of the highest politics in Europe.”
That role continues even today—25 years after the demise of the USSR, the Baltics find themselves between an autocratic-leaning Russia flush with energy revenues and a Western Europe seeking to fashion them, yet again, into a geopolitical front-line cordon sanitaire of democracies.
Yet, the significance of the Baltics is not that they have been a geopolitical battlefield for eight centuries—their significance is that those eight centuries are but a fraction of the millennia the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians have lived and thrived along the Baltic coast as stewards of some of Europe's oldest and richest cultures.
Our reference efforts began in December, 2000. In researching the Soviet occupation of Latvia on the web, we were discouraged by the alarming lack of material and information. With the approval of the Latvian National Foundation, we digitized and republished These Names Accuse.
We set out to find more materials on Latvia to fill the Internet information gap. We met with many success, but also with some roadblocks where corporations were unwilling to grant rights to individuals for republication of their materials, despite those being decades-old and no longer having viable commercial value.
We launched the The Library of Baltic Heritage in 2007 to consolidate our reference efforts under a neutral banner. We retitled to The Center of Baltic Heritage when investigation revealed that if we were to ever incorporate as a non-profit, we would need to hire a full-time librarian. Ultimately, we reintegrated back to LATVIANS.COM after receiving feedback that the split had merely “diluted our brand,” and undone the value of our unique mix of personal and reference perspectives.
Now, 16 years years since These Names Accuse, we still find the quality of information on the web about Latvia and the Baltics lacking. While there has been some improvement—popular resources such as Wikipedia often contain accurate and useful information, inaccurate information about the Baltics has also multiplied. Individuals, organizations, and regimes continue to perpetuate misinformation rooted in Nazi and Soviet propaganda whether through ignorance or to serve their own purposes. The need for reputable information is more urgent than ever. Consider that a generation after the fall of the USSR, Russia has trucked out “Ukrainians are Nazis” propaganda to justify its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
Thus our quest continues: to find and preserve long forgotten pieces of paper holding accounts of the Baltic past, produced during the times they describe—or accounts by those who were there to experience events. Our purpose? To see the Baltics through the eyes of their times, no hindsight, no spin doctoring. Our search for objectivity also extends to the present: to disseminate reputable scholarship to counter the mischaracterizations and misconceptions which still envelope the Baltics decades after they restored independence following half a century of Nazi and Soviet occupations.
Our digital collection brings the Baltic past out of obscurity to light for a new century and millennium. Use the menu at top to browse chronologically or by category:
- ABOUT CfBH, our reference initiative
- IndexMATERIALS TIMELINE , index to all our reference materials by year published
- Culture, the riches of the Baltics in arts and crafts, folk costumes, literatur, and music
- History, the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians have lived on the Baltic for 4 millennia and longer
- Pictorial History, albums & postcards—history in images
- Biographies, pivotal personalities in Baltic history and culture
- Book Reviews, our book reviews and recommendations