After the end of the First World War, in accordance with the principle of the self-determination of nations, and in complete accord with the will of the people of Central
and Eastern Europe, many national states, including Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia
and Poland, were established or revived. Their willingness to effectively take advantage of the existing conditions in the country and abroad constituted the logical result of the historical process of striving for sovereignty. The end of the Great War, however, would not have been enough if it had not been for decades of organic work and care for the preservation of national identity and culture. Without the determination of generations, there would be no outstanding individuals or key figures at that crucial time, neither would there have been such a multitude of citizens who were capable and willing to create sovereign statehood.
Wishing to commemorate these events and their heroes, an international exhibition entitled "WE WANT TO BE FREE, WE WILL BE FREE!" dedicated to the history of the Latvian state in the context of the history of the neighboring countries of Estonia and Lithuania, as well as Finland and Poland, which were created or revived after the First World War, and are celebrating the 100th anniversary of winning their independence in 2017-2018 has been prepared.
The exhibition was organized by the National Archives of Latvia in cooperation
with the National Archives of Estonia, the National Archives of Finland, the Lithuanian Central State Archives as well as the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw.
The ceremonial opening of the exhibition took place on 9 January 2019 at the History Point Educational Center of the Institute of National Remembrance on Marszałkowska street in Warsaw.
The meeting was headed by - Prof. Jerzy Eisler – the Director of the IPN Branch in Warsaw, responsible for the Polish part of the exhibition. The opening ceremony was attended by: the President of the Institute of National Remembrance, Dr Jarosław Szarek, the Latvian Ambassador to Poland Edgars Bondars, the Lithuanian Ambassador Eduardas Borisovas, the Estonian Ambassador Martin Roger, and the First Secretary of the Embassy of Finland - Jukka Halkilahti, the Deputy Director of the Department of Public Diplomacy and Culture at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Michał Mazurek, the Director of the National Archives in Riga - Māra Sprūdža and the Director of the State Archive of the Capital City of Warsaw - Ryszard Wojtkowski.
The participants emphasized the fact that the exhibition not only gives the opportunity of obtaining detailed knowledge of the history of our countries, but it is also an example of effective contemporary mutual cooperation. The historical context makes us aware that today, living in free states, we all have to remember our past, because independence is a value to be fought for, but it is also a task which we are to fulfill by strengthening friendships and alliances, as well as achieving common goals.
The exhibition has been prepared in English in order to make it as widely available as possible. Each part was prepared by researchers from individual countries.
The first presentation took place in the Lithuanian National Library of Martin Mažvydas in Vilnius, November 13 - December 3, 2018
The exhibition is on display until 11 February 2019.