Art and the Holocaust. Reflections for the Common Future

The project “Art and the Holocaust. Reflections for the Common Future” was run by Riga Jewish Community and the museum “Jews in Latvia” funded with the support of the European Union under the Programme “Europe for Citizens”


International Center for Litvak Photography, Lithuania

Jewish Historical Institute, Poland

The University of Rostock, Germany


The project ran in 2019-2021 and was dedicated to the relations between art and Holocaust, discussing how the Holocaust has influenced the European society and the world of art, to what extent it was an impact on artists themselves. Through the prism of art, we explored how the European memory is preserved and developed, what shapes it, and what is the role of individual in forming it. The aim of the project was to foster discussions about the common cultural milieu in pre-WWII Europe, its legacy today, and the way to find the new approaches towards commemoration of Europe’s common traumatic past. The project addressed the events of the period between 1938/39 and 1945 – the turning points in European history.

The project included different types of activities: academic conference in Riga (July 2019) followed by a collection of articles, two exhibitions of Jewish artists and non-Jewish artist who reflected on Holocaust (one of them virtual and the other in Riga in summer 2020 and in Šiauliai, Lithuania in autumn 2020), and two student forums – one of them in Germany (September 2019) and other in Lithuania (December 2019).

The student forums were aimed at the students and young adults from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany, and combined the lectures with workshops and discussions, giving the participants the possibility to reflect themselves on issues of Holocaust and art, including the problem of commemoration, on relations between individual and collective memory, on importance of active participation in social processes and art as a part of attempts to develop common European identity and to overcome pan-European traumas.


The art exhibition “Jewish artists in pre-war Latvia and Europe: introduction” took place in Riga and in Šiauliai, Lithuania in 2020. The exhibition recreated a row of international exhibitions of Jewish artists, held in Riga in 1938/1939, that featured artists from all over Europe. The aim of the exhibition was to bring up the pre-war art by Jewish artists most of whom perished in the Holocaust later on, to introduce this forgotten part of Eastern European culture to the large society. The exhibition is on display in other places in Latvia also after the end of the project.

The virtual exhibition “The Riga Ghetto in the Drawings of Aleksandra Beļcova” is available on this website in the part “Exhibitions/Virtual”.