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Cultural history

Exposition “Cultural history of Daugavpils region”


This exposition shows the history of the region from the 9th century B.C. till 1940. There are exhibited authentic objects that could tell a lot about the past of our region. Prehistory is richly represented by the archaeological collection. A special emphasis of the exposition is dedicated to the events that relate to Dinaburg castle of the 13th century and Dinaburg fortress that was built in the 19th century. The exhibits inform about the city at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, when the city developed as an important industrial and cultural centre. In 1920 the city got its Latvian name Daugavpils and historic evidence gives a lot of information about the region during the independent time of the Republic of Latvia. After the development concept of the museum there will be organized a full historical exposition from the ancient times till today.

*  Proto-history of the region.
       - Lithuania (1561-1569) and Polish-Lithuanian state (Rzecz Pospolita) (1569-1772) (the 1st hall)
*  The region in membership of Russian empire (1772-1917)
       - The region 1772-1861 (the 2nd hall)
       - The region 1861-1917 (the 3rd hall)
*  The region in the membership of the 
Republic of Latvia (1918-1940) (the 4th hall)
*  Daugavpils
 region in the membership of USSR  (1940 – 1991)

The region in membership of grand princedom of Lithuania (1561-1569) and Polish-Lithuanian state (Rzecz Pospolita) (1569-1772)


The life of our ancestors in the antiquity (the Stone Age, the Epoch of Early Metals) is characterized by tools made of bone, stone and metal, and also jewelry items of bronze. 
In Middle Ages ancient settlement Jersika became the economic, political and cultural centre of Latgalians. Finds from the excavations of the ancient settlement tell us about it. The archaeologists carried out these excavations in 1939; the finds give us an idea about life and everyday existence, development of crafts and trading of ancient Latgalians. In the XIIIth century Jersika was destroyed by German knights.
 
To consolidate the position in the captured lands and to control the trading way along the Daugava river the Dünaburg castle was built in 1275, it laid the foundation of our city. The crusaders of Livonian order settled in castle (its model is placed in the centre of the hall), they kept in submission the local population and made devastating raids on neighbouring lands.
 
In the 2nd half of the XVIth century as a result of Livonian war the German invaders were replaced by Polish magnates. 
Dünaburg became the centre of Inflanty’s region.
In the XVIIth century Dünaburg was an important trading and customs point on the West Dvina (the Daugava). Persistent struggle between PolandRussia and Sweden was waged for the Latgalian lands. Military equipment, weapons and ammunition testify about war events in those years. In 1656 Dünaburg was captured by Russia and renamed as Borisoglebsk, but after 11 years it was returned to Poland and was a part of it till 1772.

The region in membership of Russian empire (1772-1917)

The region 1772-1861

As a result of the first division of Poland in 1772 Latgale became a part of the Russian empire, it continued the unification of regions where the Latvian people lived. In 1778 Dünaburg was proclaimed a regional town and the plan of its building was confirmed. 
Great changes came into the life of the town by the construction of Dünaburg fortress, it began in 1810 in connection with the threat of Napoleon’s invasion. During the war of 1812 the fortress, although unfinished, played an important role in the defence of the western borders of 
Russia. After the war the construction work continued. A set of exhibits: weapons and decorations, shoulder-straps of the officer of the Russian army, a lock and a key from the gate of the citadel tells us about the Dünaburg fortress and its garrison.
In the first half of the XIXth century in Dünaburg factories processing local raw materials appear, the territory of the town widens, the number of inhabitants grows, it is multinational in its composition. In 1856 the first private theatre was opened in Dünaburg. 
The biggest part of the inhabitants of the area was involved in agriculture that continued to develop in the situation of serfdom. Landowners had the police and court power, and also the right to sell their serfs. The corner of a peasant’s house, reconstructed in the exhibition, acquaints us with everyday life items of a typical peasant’s family.
 
In the last decade of the XVIIIth century – in the beginning of the XIXth century the landowners’ manufactories with serfs as labour force appear in Līksna and Kr
āslava that becomes the centre of manufactory production in Latgale. Items produced by Krāslava craftsmen had high quality and originality. The exhibition has one such item – a splendid silk scarf.

The region in the membership of the Republic of Latvia (1918-1940)

Soon after February Revolution of 1917 a decision was adopted about the separation of Latgale from Vitebsk province and unification with other territories of Latvia. On November 18th, 1918 the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed.
On January 3rd, 1920 after heavy fighting regular Latvian troops with the assistance of Polish troops liberated Daugavpils from the Bolsheviks. The units of Zemgale division as well as the only Cavalry regiment in Latvia were stationed in the city; many photographs, documents, decorations, weapons tell about their life.
Daugavpils, the third largest town in Latvia especially actively developed in the second half of the 1930ies. In 1935 a bridge across the Daugava was built, this Unity bridge united Latgale and Zemgale. Memorial plaque in honour of this event is stored in the exhibition. In 1937 in the center of Daugavpils the House of Unity was constructed, it became one of the symbols of the town.
In these years there were many national schools in Daugavpils (including 4 state gymnasiums: Latvian, Russian, Polish and Belarussian). The exhibition presents school items, photographs, textbooks. In 1921 Daugavpils Teachers’ Institute was opened, for 20 years a great pedagogue and public figure V.Seile (1891-1970) was at the head of it. Different national societies were active in the town, Latvian drama theatre and Latgalian folk conservatoire. The Latgalian Song Festival became the embodiment of the creative spirit and the unity of the Latvian nation; it took place on June 16th, 1940.
 


Daugavpils region in the membership of USSR (1940 – 1991)

In summer of 1940 Latvia was incorporated in the U.S.S.R. and ceased to exist as an independent country. During the Second World War its territory was occupied by the German troops. In the vicinity of Daugavpils the camp for Soviet prisoners-of-war “Stalag-340” and the Jewish ghetto were formed. Tens of thousands of Latvian soldiers fought both in the Red Army and in the Wehrmacht. On July 27th, 1944 Daugavpils was taken by assault by the forces of the 4th Shock Army of the 2nd Baltic front. Many military relics tell us about these events.
During the war the number of inhabitants in Daugavpils reduced to 15 thousand people, 70% of houses were in ruins. The inhabitants of the town took an active part in the reconstruction of the old and the building of the new industrial enterprises, schools, medical, sports and cultural establishments.
By the end of the 1980ies Daugavpils became a big industrial and cultural centre in Latvia, as to the number of inhabitants (127 thousands people) it became the second largest city in the republic.
The artist Mark Rothko, the actor and producer Solomon Mihoels, composer Oskar Strok, all born in Daugavpils, gain the world fame in these years.
The fast development of democracy and the growth of national self-consciousness led to the formation of new political organizations in the end of 1980ies – beginning of 1990ies. The People’s Front of Latvia became the most influential political force and the organizer of the struggle for independence. On May 4th, 1990 the declaration “About the renewal of the independence of the Republic of Latvia” was adopted, and on August 21st, 1991 – constitutional law “About the state status of the Republic of Latvia”. In 1990 the Latgalian Song Festival became the symbol of national unity and renascence.In summer of 1940 Latvia was incorporated in the U.S.S.R. and ceased to exist as an independent country. During the Second World War its territory was occupied by the German troops. In the vicinity of Daugavpils the camp for Soviet prisoners-of-war “Stalag-340” and the Jewish ghetto were formed. Tens of thousands of Latvian soldiers fought both in the Red Army and in the Wehrmacht. On July 27th, 1944 Daugavpils was taken by assault by the forces of the 4th Shock Army of the 2nd Baltic front. Many military relics tell us about these events.
During the war the number of inhabitants in 
Daugavpils reduced to 15 thousand people, 70% of houses were in ruins. The inhabitants of the town took an active part in the reconstruction of the old and the building of the new industrial enterprises, schools, medical, sports and cultural establishments.
By the end of the 1980ies 
Daugavpils became a big industrial and cultural centre in Latvia, as to the number of inhabitants (127 thousands people) it became the second largest city in the republic.
The artist Mark Rothko, the actor and producer Solomon Mihoels, composer Oskar Strok, all born in 
Daugavpils, gain the world fame in these years.
The fast development of democracy and the growth of national self-consciousness led to the formation of new political organizations in the end of 1980ies – beginning of 1990ies. The People’s Front of Latvia became the most influential political force and the organizer of the struggle for independence. On 
May 4th, 1990 the declaration “About the renewal of the independence of the Republic of Latvia” was adopted, and on August 21st, 1991 – constitutional law “About the state status of the Republic of Latvia”. In 1990 the Latgalian Song Festival became the symbol of national unity and renascence.