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National Theatre

Location: N56° 57` 13.4", E24° 6` 15.08" | Website: teatris.lv/lv/

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In 1897 Riga city council decides that there is a necessity for the second city theatre (the first was so called German theatre – today known as National Opera house). The solemn country proclamation meeting was held in Latvian National theatre in 18th November, 1918. It is interesting that this event has been perpetuated only in one photography made by Vilis Rīdzinieks, and not only members of Nation Council can be seen there, but also singers of Latvian Opera who were on the stage singing “Dievs svētī Latviju!”

As Nation Council Chairman Janis Čakste hadn’t arrived, his assistant Gustavs Zemgals enunciated that the state power has been given in hands of Nation Council. “Dievs svētī Latviju” was sung for several times after the solemn part. Later Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis spoke. He introduced with the new government program, which included democratic reforms, solution for agrarian issues, all citizen equality and other reforms. In conclusion K. Ulmanis asked to support the new government. And again “Dievs svētī Latviju” was sung. Later the people spread. On the next day in Riga and other cities Nation Council manifests about Latvia country formation were put on the streets. Latvia country proclamation act was the first time after the long occupation years when Latvian people joined in one country after the principles of people self-determination. 

When the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed, its neighbouring countries – Estonia, Lithuania and Belarus had already announced their independence. Nation Council was the highest authority in Latvia until the convocation of Constitution meeting.  

The morning of 17th June, 1940 came. Maybe it would be a sunny summer day if the calm wasn’t broken by the news about the aggression of Soviet army – at 5 AM USSR army crossed the border and three hours later the Soviet army had crossed Latvian border in at least 15 places. The army occupied all the red points as post offices, telegraphs and radio phone. Radio phone transmitted Ulmanis’s speech which he concluded with words: “I will stay in my place. You too stay in your places.” In 18th of June Andrejs Višinskis arrived to Latvia. His task was to form a government which was Soviet Union friendly, and which would achieve that Latvia joins the Soviet Union. Although he stepped aside to make an impression that he is still working for government of an independent country. A puppet government was created in 20th of June. On the next day – 21st of June – this new government was approved by Kārlis Ulmanis. At the beginning of July, 1940, preparation for Parliament election started, which was one of the steps how lawfully include Latvia in Soviet Union. After the approval of voting results, the new members of parliament had to arrive to sign documents in Central voting committee premises. During the first meeting in 21st of July the new parliament announced Latvia as Latvia Soviet Socialist Republic (LPSR) and decided to ask being included in Soviet Union. USSR chose the National theatre as the place where Latvia independence will be abolished – the very same place where Latvia country was proclaimed. During the first year of Soviet occupation in 1940 Latvian National theatre is renamed as Drama theatre. A week after Soviet army returns to Riga on 20th October, 1944, Drama theatre restarts its work. Theatre receives back the name Latvian National theatre on 17th November, 1988. 70th anniversary of proclamation of the Republic of Latvia is celebrated on 18th November, 1988. Opening event of the renewed Latvian National theatre building is being held on 21st of June, 2004.