To mark the 80th anniversary of massive WWII refugee flight west, the Baltic Heritage Network is organizing an international conference Eighty Years after 1944: Then and Now. A three-day conference will take place on June 26-28, 2024 at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, Vilnius.

The Second World War left over 400,000 people of Eastern and Central Europe (including over 200,000 Baltic people) homeless, creating entire communities of displaced persons (DPs) in West Germany, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, Norway and Sweden after the war, the majority of whom later emigrated to North and South America and Australia.

WWII formed a new generation, which some historians call “a diaspora of the highest maturity” and which gave the Baltic States such personalities as the President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus (1998-2003 and 2004-2009), the President of the Republic of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (1999-2007) and the President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves (2006-2016).

The DPs, a phenomenon of the 20th century, symbolize the loss of home, the separation of families, and the fragmentation of nations as well as the irreversible change in the social fabric of their countries. At the same time, they were instrumental for the three Baltic States in their struggle for freedom and independence, which all three of them regained in the 1990s.

The organizers of the conference invite to (re)examine the historical context of WWII and its aftermath, delve into the experiences and testimonies of the DPs, explore the Baltic diaspora narrative in literature and arts, and discuss its cultural and historical heritage and legacy, including various memory institutions in the diaspora and home countries and their rich collections. Finally, we invite you to look into the current situation of the Baltic diaspora: its relationship with the state, the new possibilities, challenges and its future.

The conference is open to heritage preservationists, historians, anthropologists, literary scholars, art historians, political scientists, sociologists and other specialists and researchers.

Please, also note that the Baltic Heritage Network’s annual general meeting will take place during the conference in Vilnius.

Proposals on the following topics are invited:

  • Historical context
  • People
  • Experiences and testimonies
  • Baltic diaspora narrative in literature and arts
  • Preservation, access and research of the cultural-historical heritage of the Baltic diaspora in three Baltic States and abroad
  • Historical memory and memorialization
  • Baltic diaspora in the world: political, organizational, economic, cultural and educational activities
  • The Baltics and other diaspora communities
  • Baltic diaspora after 1990: New possibilities and challenges
  • The state and diaspora

The length of presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.

Please send your abstracts in English (up to 400 words) along with short bios by March 10, 2024 to info[at]balther.net

Applicants will be notified by April 5, 2024.

Conference fee:
1 day for BaltHerNet members—30 euros
1 day for non-BaltHerNet members—35 euros
3-day package for BaltHerNet members—75 euros
3-day package for non-BaltHerNet members—90 euros

The organizers of the conference: Baltic Heritage Network and the Martynas
Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania.

Partners: Adolfas Damušis Democracy Studies Center of the National Library of Lithuania, Lithuanian Research Center in Chicago, Estonian Museum Canada VEMU, Estonian National Archives, Estonian Literary Museum, Estonian National Museum, Latvian National Archives

Organizing Committee:

Valda Budreckaitė (Lithuania)
Jolanta Budriūnienė (Lithuania)
Dalia Cidzikaitė (Lithuania)
Ilona Strumickienė (Lithuania)
Birgit Kibal (Estonia)
Karin Kiisk (Estonia)
Piret Noorhani (Canada, Estonia)
Maarja Merivoo-Parro (Estonia)
Kristina Lapienytė (USA)
Inese Kalniṇa (Latvia)