Difficult Heritage: Culture of Remembrance, Tourism and Communication in the Digital Age

Practical session “Communication tools, perceptions and best practice examples” at Zanis Lipke Memorial, Mazais Balasta dambis 9, Riga 

Thursday, 17 March 2022, 13:00 (Riga time), hybrid session; Online: Zoom  

Meeting ID: 992 9823 4397; Passcode: 089098 


Starting with the 1st Holocaust history guidebook in restored democratic Latvia – “Fragments of the Jewish history of Riga: a brief guidebook with a map for a walking tour”, compiled by the founder of Museum “Jews in Latvia”, historian Marģers Vestermanis, and a prominent example of its reception in the autobiography of the Riga Ghetto survivor, New York-based avant-garde artist Boris Lurie, this session of the conference will look at the Holocaust tourism communication tools from the 90s onwards. The section will feature both local and international speakers who will share their experience in developing innovative communication tools for difficult heritage in Riga and its vicinity. In addition, it will provide a forum for established and new Holocaust memorialisation initiatives. 


Topography of memory. Holocaust tourism tools in Riga 1991-2022

Raivis Sīmansons PhD, Curator at Žanis Lipke Memorial; Co-founder of Creative Museum 

The Boris Lurie In Riga exhibition and autobiography translation project at the Žanis Lipke Memorial (2020-2021) opened an unexpected perspective not only onto the artistic and family history legacy but also on Lurie's reception of the 1st Holocaust history guidebook in Latvia from 1991. Taking Lurie's Riga topography-related reflections of the memory of Shoah as a reference point, his presentation will look at the Holocaust tourism communication tools since the 1990s in view to developing technologies and changing memory landscape in Riga. 

Raivis Sīmansons PhD is a co-founder of Creative Museum, a Riga based think tank focusing on museums and creative economies. He holds a Ph.D. in Museum studies from the University of Leicester with specialization in contemporary history. In 2019 he joined Žanis Lipke Memorial, an award-winning memorial museum in Riga, to work on development of its new civic education center. As a research fellow at the University of Latvia project MemoTours he looks at memorial museums and dark tourism. 


Salaspils Memorial Audioguide: a guide for an individual tourist 

Inese Kupšāne, Director Museum of the River Daugava 

Salaspils Memorial became a branch of Daugava Museum (Salaspils county) in 2017. In 2018 the previously almost empty site's entry gallery is opened for visitors with a new and modern history exhibition. The Exhibition was made in collaboration with a historian Dr Uldis Neiburgs, also known as author of book Behind These Gates The Ground Moans: Salaspils

Camp 1941-1944. In the same year for the first time Memorial got a new web page. With funding from State Culture Capital Foundation in 2021 the audio-guide app was made, mostly expecting individual tourists to use it for more intimate story learning and encouraging to have an internal discussion about the difficult ethical and political aspects of the memorial sites history. 

Inese Kupšāne is a director of Daugava Museum and its branch Salaspils Memorial. In 2013 graduated from Latvian University with a bachelor's degree in history. In 2016 she completed a master thesis about the cultural learning opportunities in a museum environment for young people. Work experience gained in Žanis Lipke Memorial and Daugava Museum. In a team with outgoing Daugava Museum director and the co-author of the new Memorial`s exhibition, Zigmārs Gailis, Salaspils Memorial web page and audio-guide app has been made. 


Underground Riga commemorative stones and audio guide 2014-2022 

Camillo Spiegelfeld, Austrian Gedenkdiener - voluntary memory worker at Žanis Lipke Memorial 

Underground Riga is an urban topography project developed by the Žanis Lipke memorial to mark the urban spaces where Jews were rescued during the Second World War by means of a specially made memorial stone. There were 28 such stones laid in the pavement of the streets of Riga in 2014. An audio tour on the iziTRAVEL storytelling platform was published in spring 2019 which supplemented 28 locations with a number of other venues such as Riga Ghetto, Kaiserwald Concentration camp and its branch Lenta textile factory in Pārdaugava for better understanding of the historical and topographical context. 

In this presentation Camillo will give an account of the actual state of art of the memorial stones in situ and offen an analysis of the user statistics of the audio guide on the iziTRAVEL storytelling platform. 

Camillo Spiegelfeld is an Austrian Gedenkdiener (Voluntary memory worker) from Vienna who has his placement at the Žanis Lipke Memorial from fall 2021 till summer 2022. When asked about his motivation for working as a Volunteer he answered “I think it is our generation's task to keep history from being forgotten”. Camillo has also taken up the role of a Social Media Coordinator for the Locker of Memory project developed by Prof. Karen Frostig. 


Holocaust and resistance remembrance activism in Latvia 

Lolita Tomsone, Director of Žanis Lipke Memorial

On November 30 and December 8, 1941, approximately 25,000 Jews were murdered in the Rumbula Forest outside Riga, Latvia. Commemorations at the Freedom Monument in the center of Rīga have attracted considerable numbers of attendees in recent years, since they were launched in 2016. 

“There are no speeches and no official photographs by the Freedom Monument. Every year we just lay the candlelit paths, in silence, to remember the 25 000 lives lost and to prevent such tragedies from repeating in the future. This is a story of the whole of Latvia, not just of

the Jewish community,” says Lolita Tomsone, the founder of the movement and one of the organizers of the commemorative event for the 5th year in running. 

In this presentation, Lolita will look back at the memorialization initiative she's been instrumental in implementing. She will also look into the future plans for commemorate civic resistance under the Nazi regime through an urban landscaping project at the Jungfernhof in Riga outskirts. 

Lolita Tomsone has studied Jewish studies at the University of Jerusalem. Director of the Žanis Lipke Memorial is widely known in Latvia for her activism and human rights defending stance. 


Touring Jungfernhof 

Karen Frostig, Director, Locker of Memory project 

“Touring Jungfernhof'' will focus on the presentation of a 3-D tour about the Jungfernhof concentration camp and seven satellite sites. The tour tells a detailed story concerning this abandoned camp, established in December 1941 at the Mazjumprava Manor on the outskirts of Riga. As Latvia’s first Nazi concentration camp, 3984 Reich Jews from Nuremburg, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Hamburg were imprisoned on this frozen tundra during the coldest winter on record. Most of the prisoners died in the first few months of starvation, inhumane treatment, random shootings, and a major massacre occurring in the Bikernieki Forest on March 26, 1942. In 1943, the camp was closed, and prisoners were transferred to the Riga Ghetto and neighboring camps. At the end of WWII, only 148 persons survived. 

The Jungfernhof concentration camp is regarded as an unremembered site. While Latvian scholars, German and Austrian officials knew about the site from deportation lists, trial transcripts, YouTube videos recorded by survivors, a single excerpt from Andrew Ezergailis’s book, The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944: The Missing Center, and self-published memoirs, there was no coordinated effort among the three nations responsible for these heinous crimes, to memorialize the camp. Under the direction of Karen Frostig, granddaughter of victims murdered at the camp, the Locker of Memory project’s main objective is first to recover the history of the camp, and second, to install a permanent memorial at the camp. 

The 3-D tour is one of many initiatives developed to tell the story of this forsaken camp. The unique of features of a 3-D camera, imposed an unexpected structure onto the design of the 3-D tour. A technological invention developed to capture all things visible within a 360 degree radius, the 3-D camera unwittingly highlighted the invisibility of the concentration camp that had been intentionally or unintentionally erased from the landscape, while accentuating the manicured presence of a recently installed recreation park. This development required a new approach, emphasizing a more contextualized presentation of the camp site to portray 800 years of layered history, in addition to the seven killing sites interacting with the specter of murder and misery, unfolding at the Jungfernhof concentration camp. 

The presentation will conclude with a discussion about transformative memory, how the process of developing a memorial project replicates movement from ambivalent memory to embodied memory, representing multiple perspectives. A memorial project is a culmination experience. It is how we get there that is the most informative.

Karen Frostig, PhD., is an interdisciplinary public memory artist, writer, cultural historian, activist, and Full Professor at Lesley University’s Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. Karen was a Resident Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center for twelve years. She is now an affiliated scholar and a recipient of a Hadassah Brandeis research grant, investigating Holocaust memory and feminist theory. 

Karen is Founding Director for the Locker of Memory project at Jungfernhof concentration camp, a new multi-media memorial project in Riga, Latvia. Karen holds dual citizenship in the Republic of Austria and the United States. She is also the granddaughter of murdered Austrian Holocaust victims, deported to Riga and imprisoned at the Jungfernhof concentration camp. 


Disrupting the Metaverse with Educational XR 

Cory McLeod, Creative Technologist at Fallon Worldwide 

In the past few months, the virtual reality landscape aka metaverse has undergone a major transformation. In his talk, Cory McLeod will give a brief overview of the transformations currently taking place in virtual reality and how educational XR projects such as Lipke Bunker VR can disrupt and stand out in the metaverse. 

In May 2021, Fallon decided to partner with the Lipke Museum to develop the second iteration of the Lipke Bunker VR. A joint team has been working on the development of a presentational prototype since. The intent of this prototype is to employ it as a proof-of-concept like object in a pitch to VR content development stakeholders and Holocaust education institutions. 

An opportunity will be used to present the work-in-progress VR of the story of a family from Berlin, Hanna and Sofia Stern. The Sterns were deported from Berlin to Riga in January 1942 and were able to escape from the Kaiserwald Concentration Camp in one of Lipke’s most challenging rescue operations.

Cory McLeod is a creative technologist and interdisciplinary artist, whose work has spanned the performing arts, film, television, communication arts and new media art. He has worked in the creative services industry for the past 15 years. Through his work, Cory has witnessed firsthand the interaction of brands, new media and the communication arts. His work has received national and international awards and has been featured in such publications as Fast Company and the New York Times. He is currently a Creative Technologist at Fallon Worldwide and has done work for clients such as Target, Boston Scientific, Saucony and Arby’s.


Day’s programme here

Full conference programme here

Raivis Sīmansons