The Story of the Baltic University, 1946 – 1949

Film Viewing and Special Presentation
Saturday, February 20 at 2.00 PM

Baltic University students and faculty members

The Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture and The Latvian Folk Art Museum cordially invite you to the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Baltic University and the viewing of the documentary The Story of the Baltic University 1946 – 1949 in Hamburg/Pinneberg, Germany on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 2:00 PM at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, 6500 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL 60629.

Director Helga Merits will introduce the documentary; former Baltic University student Pranas Jurkus will discuss how the university came to be and pay tribute to other BU alumni. This special presentation is a companion program to the “No Home To Go To: The Story of Baltic Displaced Persons, 1944-52” exhibition.

Admission is free for the members of the Balzekas Museum and $5 for non-members. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, please call 773-582-6500.

This program has been sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Helga Merits

After working as a journalist for Dutch and Belgitun newspapers and national radio, HelgaM erits began making historical doctunentary films. Her previous film, "The Oass of 1943 - remember us when we are gone" (2012) featured the fate of five Estonian boys of the Tartu Boys Academy forced to join theG erman army. "The Story of The Baltic University" is her fourth doctunentary. The film had its World Premiere at EstDocs Film Festival, TorontoO, ctober 16-20, 2015.
After working as a journalist for Dutch and Belgian newspapers and national radio, Helga Merits began making historical documentary films. Her previous film, “The Class of 1943 – Remember Us When We Are Gone” (2012) featured the fate of five Estonian boys of the Tartu Boys Academy forced to join the German army. “The Story of The Baltic University” is her fourth documentary. The film had its World Premiere at EstDocs Film Festival, Toronto, October 16-20, 2015.

About Baltic University

Baltic University LogoThe Baltic University was established in the displaced persons camps in Germany to educate refugees from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The University was established at Hamburg in the British Zone of Occupation in March 1946, with aid from UNRRA, the Lutheran World Federation, and other groups. In early 1947, it was moved to a former Luftwaffe barracks in Pinneberg (Eggerstedt-Kaserne) and renamed the Displaced Persons’ Study Centre. The Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik became its first Rector, and later the Lithuanian archaeologist Jonas Puzinas became head of the institution. The University was closed in September 1949, because many of the staff and students had found homes in other countries.

A total of 76 students graduated from the Baltic University in its short existence: 53 of them were Latvian, 16 Lithuanian, and 7 Estonian. Many others went on to complete their studies in other universities. Three student fraternities–Fraternitas Imantica, Gersicania and Fraternitas Cursica–were founded in Pinneberg.

The Baltic university, at its height, reached 200 professors and 1,200 students. The University was organized into eight departments and 17 programs. It should be noted that the University had its beginnings under the most difficult and adverse conditions in a devastated Germany.

Baltic University Department Emblems
Baltic University department emblems