The nineteenth century saw the invention of the national hero. His main function was to serve as an ideal for the nation. Latvia, however, is an exception to this general rule: after it regained independence in 1990, the national hero simply disappeared and no heroic image emerged. On the contrary, it was now the victim that became the emblem of Latvias regained independence. The country, of course, did not lack "heroes," for there were in fact many candidates for the creation of a national hero, yet the hero as such no longer seemed to fit the new state. While the path Latvia had chosen of rejecting or refusing national heroes had an impact on its integration into Europe, it also contributed to ongoing frictions among its own ethnic communities.
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© 2016 International Society for the Study of European Ideas.