Women in the Latvian War of Independence 1918–1920 in historical memory: nurses’ example

Inna Gīle
Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia, E–mail: inna.gile@gmail.com

Acknowledgements
This paper was presented at the Sixth international conference on Baltic and Nordic Studies in Romania Historical memory, the politics of memory and cultural identity: Romania, Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea Region in comparison, organized by the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, Faculty of History and Political Sciences of Ovidius University of Constanța and International Summer School of The University of Oslo, Norway, May 22-23, 2015. Supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, The EEA Fund for Bilateral Relations, contract no. 910/20.03.2015.

Abstract:
The research deals with a subject that has not been investigated previously, but is a significant topic in the historical memory of Latvian culture – participation and importance of nurses in the War of Independence of Latvia. Many nurses worked in the military units and war medicine institutions of the Latvian Army. They fulfilled their professional responsibilities with selflessness and often died in the line of duty. Unfortunately nurses’ role in this military conflict is not clarified. The objective of this paper is to study the role of nurses during the War of Independence of 1918–1920 and the impact of the activity of nurses related to the military sphere on historical memory. Chronological confines include the period of time from November 18, 1918, when the democratic and independent state of Latvia was established, till August 11, 1920, when the Peace Treaty was signed between Latvia and Soviet Russia. To reach that purpose, we need to look at many aspects – study the change of women’s role at the beginning of the 20th century, especially under the circumstances of World War I; consider the significance of the War of Independence in the region and investigate the contribution of nurses in the War of Independence, what professional responsibilities they fulfilled and what were the difficulties they encountered and, finally, how their commitment has been preserved in historical memory.

Rezumat:
Această cercetare abordează un subiect care nu a mai fost investigat anterior, dar care este important pentru memoria istorică şi culturală a Letoniei – importanţa participării surorilor medicale la Războiul de Independenţă al Letoniei. Numeroase asistente medicale au lucrat în unităţile militare şi în instituţiile sanitare militare ale Armatei letone. Acestea şi-au dus la îndeplinire responsabilităţile profesionale cu altruism şi deseori au murit la datorie. Din păcate, rolul asistentelor medicale în conflictul militar nu este clarificat. Obiectivul acestei lucrări este de a analiza importanţa asistentelor medicale în Războiul de Independenţă din 1918-1920 precum şi impactul asupra memoriei istorice creat de activitatea surorilor medicale din domeniul militar. Limitele cronologice sunt marcate de data de 18 noiembrie 1918, când statul democratic şi independent Letonia a fost constituit, și 11 august 1920, când a fost semnat Tratatul de Pace dintre Letonia şi Rusia sovietică. Mai multe aspecte vor fi urmărite pentru atingerea scopurilor propuse – va fi analizat rolul femeii la începutul secolului XX, în special în legătură cu desfăşurarea Primului Război Mondial; se va avea în vedere importanţa Războiului de Independenţă în regiune şi va fi investigată contribuţia asistentelor medicale în Războiul de Independenţă, care erau responsabilităţile lor profesionale şi care au fost dificultăţile întâlnite în exercitarea acestora, precum şi modul în care ele sunt amintite în memoria istorică.

Keywords: nurses, Latvian Red Cross, Riga Military Hospital, the Latvian War of Independence

https://balticnordic.hypotheses.org/files/2018/12/15.-Gile.pdf