Press release July 27, 2000:
William Urban was awarded the Vitols Prize for the best article in the Journal of Baltic Studies for the year 1998. This was announced at the Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies in Washington DC in June, but Dr. Urban was teaching in Europe at that time, so he did not learn of it until this week, when he opened a registered letter from Latvia.
The prize committee’s announcement read: “Dr. Urban’s article provides a salient critical overview of the medieval Crusades as they affected the Baltic nations. His detailed historical research reveals itself in the depth of vision forwarded by this focused capsulization of the arrival of Christendom in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.” In his conclusion, Urban, reflecting more widely than upon the very real and significant ethnic conflicts of the modern Baltic, concluded, “Victimization in history is real. There are winners and losers, and even the winners suffered losses. Victimization as a modern political strategy is also real. It is the foundation for all demagoguery; and some groups have had sufficient success in publicizing their suffering that other groups have felt obliged to match them. This comparative victimization is not healthy. It has a negative influence on individual and group attitudes; it threatens to revive aspects of nationalism and racism better buried away and forgotten; and it dulls the public mind to more recent and correctable injustices. One does not want to forget the past, but one should not want to relive it either. The way out of victim status is to rise above it, not to wallow in it. The way forward is forward, not backward.”Urban has received two previous cash awards for scholarly work. In 1983 he was given Dr. Arthur Puksow Foundation for The Livonian Crusade and "The Nationality of Balthasar Russow;" in 1998 he received the Harry E. Pratt Memorial Award for the best article published the previous year on Illinois history, “The People vs. Nicholas P. Earp.” Urban has recently published two books, Tannenberg and After, and a much enlarged second edition of The Prussian Crusade.