Latvia's Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins praised the former Latvian grammar school in Münster as a unique institution. "It was a central point for education, culture and strengthening our national identity," he told the German Press Agency on Wednesday at the sidelines of an event organized by the German Embassy in Riga to mark the 25th anniversary of the school's closure, which existed until 1998. Founded after World War II for children of exiles in Germany, the school was the only Latvian grammar school in the western world when Latvia was an involuntary part of the Soviet Union.
"It was a fantastic place to be young because of course we had to study quite intensively but we all lived together in the dorm. We had a great social life together," said Karins. The head of government of the Baltic EU and NATO country studied in 1984 at the Münster school, whose exiled Latvian students came from all over the world. The school was the only recognized Latvian educational institution outside of Latvia. It was financed largely with funds from Germany.
The Latvian Gymnasium was founded in Detmold on February 15, 1946 and has been in Münster since 1957. With the last high school diploma on June 20, 1998, it ceased operations. In the more than five decades of its existence, around 2000 young people studied at the grammar school for a while or graduated there. More than 400 students passed their Abitur in Münster. The list of well-known graduates is long - and not a few of them returned to their homeland after Latvia regained independence in 1991.
In addition to Karins, this also includes Latvia's current President Egils Levits, who was once both a student and a teacher in Münster. "It's unbelievable that I can stand here now as the Prime Minister and that the President was also my teacher. That's quite amazing and that shows a bit how important this school was," Karins said in his speech, which was partly in German around 100 graduates of the school and other guests.
The chairman of the German-Baltic parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (FDP), also emphasized, referring to the long and not always easy German-Latvian history: "If there is an element, a moment that we both Latvians and If Germans can really be proud, then it's the Latvian Gymnasium in Münster."