A twentieth-century historian and writer who specialized in modern Latvian history, he is known for works such as Zili stikli, zaļi ledi (Blue Glass, Green Ice) and The Latvian Saga.
He was elected to the Latvian Academy of Sciences in 1992.
He and Alfred Leslie Rowse were both well-known historians.
He taught history at the University of Latvia in Riga and also fought in World War II.
The son of Janis Ģermanis, he was raised in Novaya Ladoga, Russian Empire.