The latest World Federation of Free Latvians award, an annual honor bestowed on an individual or individuals for their work in the Latvian community, has been posthumously awarded to Arturs Cipulis.
Cipulis, who died Oct. 10 after an operation, was a Latvian political and social activist in Germany, the federation (known in Latvian as Pasaules brīvo latviešu apvienība, or PBLA) said in announcing the award. The winner of this year’s honor as well as the names of those who won awards or recognition from federation’s Culture Fund were announced during Independence Day celebrations in various Latvian communities worldwide
“The laureate’s life was devoted to Latvian unity,” the federation said. “The people closest to him—his wife, son and daughter—sometimes took second place. His wife Rasma, who also was selfless in fulfilling her Latvian responsibilities, was her husband’s best helper.”
The Cipulis family fled from Latvia to Germany during World War II. Arturs Cipulis began working in the community already in 1945, helping to found a Latvian elementary school in the Displaced Persons camp in Braunschweig, as well as a choir, folk dance group and theatre troupe.
Because of his health, the family was unable to emigrate from Germany and in 1952 settled in Pinneberg, near Hamburg. Cipulis became involved with and eventually was elected to the Central Committee of the Latvian Central Council (Latviešu Centrālā padome).
In 1964, Cipulis led efforts to organize the first Latvian Song Festival in Western Europe and also was involved in organizing the second festival.
Germany’s central Latvian organization, renamed Latviešu Kopība Vācijā (Latvian Community in Germany) came under Cipulis’ leadership in 1972, a position he held until the mid-1990s and, after a few years’ away, resumed and continued in 2003.
For 30 years, Cipulis led the Hamburg Latvian Society, but for 40 years was director of the Hamburg Latvian choir. He served as the German Latvian community’s representative to the PBLA and to the Western European Latvian Association (Rietumeiropas Latviešu apvienība). In addtion, Cipulis helped publish Brīvā Latvija, the Western European weekly Latvian newspaper.
Cipulis also administered the Latvian high school in Münster, Minsteres latviešu ģimnāzija, continuing his association with the school even after its closure.
After Latvia regained its independence, Cipulis worked with the State Archive of Latvia to develop exhibits about Latvian society in exile.
He also organized the return to Latvia of the remains of Professor Jāzeps Vītols and writer Jāņis Jaunsudrabiņš.
In 1997, Cipulis was award the Order of the Three Stars, Latvia’s highest civilian honor, while in 1998 he was awarded Germany’s Bundesverdienstkreutz.
Arturs Cipulis has been honored posthumously by the World Federation of Free Latvians.
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