German students produce film about Latvians in Münster

History students at the Hittorf-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Münster in Germany have produced a short documentary film about the history of the once-thriving Latvian exile community in their city. Titled Ghetto ohne Zaun (The Ghetto With No Fence), the film includes interviews with members of the community, as well as historical images, according to a press release from the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe), which supported the documentary.

The film, available on DVD in German with Latvian subtitles, tells the story of the Latvians who moved to Münster after World War II. The community is best remembered as the site of the Latvian high school, Minsteres latviešu ģimnāzija, where exile youth from around the world studied language, culture and other subjects. The school closed in 1998, but the facilities remain and are known as Latviešu Centrs Minsterē.

The documentary, according to the press release, notes how the exiles in Münster remained isolated for many years, resulting in prejudices and fears between the Latvians and local Germans. Over time, “the exiles began to cross the imaginary fences” and became integrated into Münster society.

The film saw its premiere Sept. 30 in Münster.

The Latvian community in Germany supported making of the film, Nīls Ebdens wrote Oct. 3 on the online mailing list of the ELJA50 organization. Among those interviewed by the history students, according to Ebdens, were Aija Ebdene, Ieviņa Picka, Andris Kadeģis, Pēteris Purmalis and Juris Trauciņš.

For more on the DVD, in German, visit

Ghetto ohne Zaun

High school history students in Germany have produced Ghetto ohne Zaun, a documentary about Latvians in Münster. (Image courtesy of Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe)

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “German students produce film about Latvians in Münster

  1. I attended the Latvian school in Munster. This was in the 1960’s. I remember dancing with the dance troop and participating in festivals . I learned 2 additional languages and a host of wonderful memories.
    I am interested in more information regarding the school if possible.

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