2011. gada ekspedīcija uz Sibīriju

Sorry, this entry is only available in Latvian.

Photographs from places of deportation in Flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/64697027@N08/show/ Presentation of the 2011 trip to Siberia, “Siberian Stories,” in Latvijas Avīze

A group of nearly 30 individuals from Latvia traveled to Siberia in June to honor the fathers and grandfathers who were tortured to death during deportations and to document disappearing evidence about this phase in history.  The group was led by the film director Dzintra Geka and the Rev Guntis Kalme, who is an expert in relation to history, and the group included Latvian children who grew up in Siberia and were the sons and daughters of fathers who were shot or tortured to death in concentration camps.  Latvijas Avīze journalist Guntis Ščerbinskis went along, and the result was a series of stories, “Siberian Stories,” that were published in several segments in Latvijas Avīze in July.  Digital versions of the stories can be found here: Siberian Stories 1 Siberian Stories 1 (cont.) Siberian Stories 2 Siberian Stories 2 (cont.) Siberian Stories 3 Siberian Stories4 

The station “Latvians” 1937

Over the past centuries, Latvians have moved from their motherland to all corners of the globe.  Some have been deported because they refused to obey regimes.  Others have gone out into the world because they feel that they will have a happier and luckier life elsewhere.  Still others have become refugees during wars and revolutions.  Our compatriots were not welcomed everywhere with open arms, but it was only in the Soviet Union that the ethnicity of Latvians led to the development of a theory which said that each and every Latvian was a spy, a traitor, an enemy, or simply an undesirable person who needed to be shot as soon as possible.  

The documentary “The Station ‘Latvians’, 1937”

Stacija LatviešiOriginal Title Latvieši – 1937 – Latiši Documentary, 60’, Released 2010

 Director Dzintra Geka
 Production Company Sibīrijas bērni
 Director and producer:  Dzintra Geka
 Screenplay:  Ēriks Lanss
 Camera:  Aivars Lubānietis
 Editing:  Armands Zvirbulis
 Video engineer:  Jānis Kazulis
 Sound editor:  Normunds Deinats
 Text:  Aivars Stranga
 Consultant:  Jānis Riekstiņš
 Assistant to the director:  Baiba Ārenta

Songs from Siberian Latvians have been used as the soundtrack to this film.

According to the 1926 Soviet census, there were 151,410 Latvians living there – 18,346 in and around Leningrad, 10,583 in the Pskov District, 10,167 in Moscow, and 35,069 Latvians in Siberia.  There were at least 372 Latvian colonies with 12,000 farms.  Gaļina Strazdiņa, who lives in Kemerov, says that “soon we will all be gone.  We are neither Latvians nor Russians because we do not speak our own language, we do not speak Latvian.  What can I say about 1937?  I was 14, no, 15.  A Black Bertha came to our village and collected everyone – Latvians, Estonians, Russians, everyone.  No one ever returned.”  The “Latvian Operation” was headed up by Nikolai Yezhov, who issued the relevant instructions on November 30, 1937.  22,360 people were arrested, and 74% were sentenced to death.  Although the focus of the operation was on Latvians, others who were accused of spying on behalf of Latvia were also caught up in the process.  The greatest suffering occurred among innocent people whose only “crime” was that they were Latvians in the Soviet Union.  The central figures in the film are the offspring of those who were repressed, and they were found in Moscow, Kemerov and Latvia.  A train station in the Kemerov District is still called “Latvians.”



2010.gada brauciens uz Krieviju no 21.jūlijs-4.augusts.

2010 trip to Russia from July 21 to August 4.

Route: Riga, St. Petersburg – Norilsk – Dudinka – Karauli -T olstij Npn-Pimen-Lama Lake – Krasnoyarsk – Ačinsk – Biriļussi – Tomsk – Kolpashevo – Starokorotkino – Parabeļ – Kargasok – Moscow – Riga.

We placed the stone plates in memoriam of Latvian children and mothers – the victims of the deportations 1941-1949 – Dudinka, Norilsk, Achinsk, Tomsk and Kargasok.

Piemini Sibīriju

This film is an emotional, figurative and historical study of the memories of people who were deported to Siberia as children on June 14, 1941.  The film represents the sufferings of these victims in contrast to the beautiful landscapes of Siberia.
On June 14, 2009, a film crew, a number of children of Siberia who survived and returned to Latvia, and their children went on a pilgrimage to Siberia to install memorial plaques in memory of the mothers and children who were deported between 1941 and 1949.
One person who took the trip was Gunārs Toms, who became an orphan after his father perished in Vyatlag.  “I have to say that to this very day I have not recovered peace in my soul after what I saw and experienced during a 120-kilometre pilgrimage from the village where my mommy, Alvīne Toma, was arrested, to the “mighty” KGB building in Yeniseysk, where there were interrogation rooms and a dungeon in which people were shot,” he says.  There was the cemetery of the prison.  The former death camp is still surrounded by barbed wire.  And, finally, we put up a memorial plaque in the local museum.”

Continue reading “Piemini Sibīriju”

Grāmata “Sibīrijas bērni”

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Buy Volume 1 A-K, and Volume 2 L-Z

The book “The Children of Siberia” Part 1 have been published in 2008. It collects interviews from  letter A-K. The second volume, published November 22, 2012, include the L-Z letter.

The deportations of June 14, 1941, involved 15,425 residents of Latvia – Latvians, Jews, Russians and Poles, including more than 3,750 children aged 16 or less.  During the process, men were split off from their families and sent to camps in the Gulag, where fathers and brothers died of starvation and disease.

Women and children were sent to special settlements, mostly in villages in the Krasnoyarsk and Tomsk districts.  The first period of the deportations was particularly terrible for them.  World War II continued, and many women and children died as the result of heavy labour and disease.

A Russian song suggests that World War II was a holy war.  Mendacious propaganda ensured that the deportees were called Fascists, and that is how they were treated, too.  There is a place called Agapitova on the lower reaches of the Yenisei River.  It is known as “Death Island”, because in the autumn of 1942, 700 people, including Latvian mothers and children, were put ashore there.  By the spring of 1943, only 70 remained alive.  Among them were six Latvian children who were interviewed for this book.

In 1946 and 1947, thanks to the dedication and efforts of employees of the Orphanage Division of the Soviet Latvian Ministry of Education, more than 1,000 children who had been deported on June 14, 1941, were brought back to Latvia.  Most were children who had lost one or both parents.  They were sent to the homes of relatives or to orphanages.  Alas, this did not bring their torments to an end.  Many were sent back to Siberia in subsequent stages of deportations, and those who survived could return to Latvia only in the mid-1950s.  The children and grandchildren of the 1941 deportees can still be found in Siberia today.

We have travelled thousands of kilometres over the course of six years.  Children who were sent to the Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Yeniseisk and other districts are now elderly people, often disabled.  It was not just their Motherland and their relatives who were taken away from them.  The Soviet Union’s policy of Russification also robbed them of their language, and many speak no Latvian at all.  Some of these people never lost hope that they could spend their old age back in Latvia, even if that meant living in a poorhouse, but this dream is just a dream.  Today they are separated from their Motherland by a boundary that is not easily crossed.  When we returned to Latvia from each trip to Siberia, we were full of impressions about the natural beauty of that land.  We had video recordings and interviews, but we always brought along deeply personal emotions, as well.  We felt sorrow and an endless feeling of guilt.  Those who returned were happy to return to their Motherland, but there can be no compensation for loneliness, suffering, hunger and the loss of one’s loved ones.  This has had consequences across many generations.  Each story offers evidence and commemoration of brothers and sisters who remained in the eternally frozen Siberian wasteland.

In terms of sheer numbers, Jews were the second largest group of deportees in June 1941.  Those who survived returned to Latvia to find that their relatives had lost their lives during World War II.  In the 1970s, most of these people were allowed to emigrate to Israel.  We found children of Siberia there, as well.

We have interviewed 670 people in Latvia, Russia, Israel and America.  We have received much light, love and confirmation of hopes for Latvia’s future.  We wish to present these to future generations.

Buy book via PayPal

Buy Volume 1 A-K, and Volume 2 L-Z

Continue reading “Grāmata “Sibīrijas bērni””

Agapitova and the Recsued

Agapitova and the Recsued

Movie about returning to the north, in the past. Plahina, Agapitova, Igarka and other giant counties are the edge of the northern land, where Ilmārs Knaģis ended up in 1941, when together with 4 thousand children from Latvia he was deported to Siberia. In the fall of 1942, 700 mothers and children of different nationalities landed on Death Island in Agapitova, around 60 people were saved, including 6 Latvian children – Biruta Kazaka, Pavels Kliesbergs, Venta and Ilmārs Grāvīši, Pēteris Bērziņš, Valentīna Voišiša. The memories are poignant, even incredible. In the leisurely course of the film, we will see the old men who stayed in Siberia, whose dream of returning to Latvia has disappeared, their lives have been spent in exile.

Question remains, whAgapitovay it happened and why there is nobody to blame? Maybe this endless return is search for time taken away? North deported generation turns into frozen land of ice and water. Those remaining disappears day by day. I am still desperately trying to stop time. In the hope that my words will not leave with me. – In fact, I did not forget. However, many seem to have seen a motion picture. Too incredible it was. But thousands and thousands tens of millions have experienced something similar here, and more violent. All our nowadays mind is raped and distorted that the events which there is no similar in the history of mankind, now seems normal …

Documentary film Agapitova and the Rescued. Y 2009, 54′
Scenario  Ēriks Lanss
Director  Dzintra Geka
Music  Pēteris Vasks
Operator Aivars Lubānietis
Editor  Armands Zvirbulis
Installation and sound editing Jānis Kazulis
Video graphics  Edgars Lūsiņš
Assistant director Baiba Kazule
(c) Studija SB 2009 (c) Dzintra Geka 2009

Thanks Latvian Embassy in Moscow and Latvians to Siberia for their contribution 
Film was supported by National Film Center and Culture Foundation of Latvia

Izsūtīšana uz Sibīriju 1941. gadā

On June 14th, 1941, atotal of 15,425 people from Latvia (ethnic Latvians, Jews, Russians and Poles) were deported to Siberia, among them 3, 751 children aged 16 or younger. During the deportations men were separted from their families and sent to the camps of Gulag, where many of them were put to death. Others were locked up in prison camps. Woman and children were mostly sent to villages in the Krasnoyarsk and Tomsk regions. While World War II continued, these woman and children suffered terrible deprivations. Forced labor and disease cost many of them their lives.

In 1946, thanks to the efforts of the education Ministry of the Latvian SSR, more than 1, 000 of the children who had been deported on June 14, 1941, most of them having lost one or both parents, were brought back to Latvia where they were turned over to relatives or placed in children’s homes. Sadly this was not the end of their torturous route. Many of them were sent back to Siberia by those who were in power, and then they could return to Latvia only in the mid-1950s. Many died, many assimilated into Siberian life.

This project continues in two portions – continuing the interviews of people who were deported as children in 1941, and then correlating the materials into a series of films and then a book. I have already interviewed 270 of 400 survivors, finding them in Latvia, Siberia, Isreal, the United States of America and Germany.

The film „Children of Siberia” has gained much publicity in Latvia, it has been shown in 10 major cities in the United States. The film has been translated into English, French and German. It has been shown at many film festivals and at an Amnesty International forum. I have also continued my work on „The Siberian Diaries” . The first two parts of these series were shown on Latvian Television on June 14, 2002, while the later two were shown on June 14, 2003. On June 14, 2004 Latvian Television showed my new film „Greetings from Siberia”.

My contract with Latvian Television states that it is inportant to show such films each year, and so it is important to continue my work on the interviews – some 120 people remain to be surveyed. Each interview would be available on DVD and VHS so that the materials can be used by schools and libraries. We intend to correlate the materials into a book, telling the destinies of these people over the course of time. The book will be translated into English German an French so that people all over the world can understand it.

In 2005 we would like to revisit Omsk, Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk to find and interview those depotees of year 1941 who are still alive but have not returned to Latvia for one reason or another.


The public fund „children of Siberia” offers informational and material aid to those who are still in Siberia, helping them return to Latvia. This is the segment of our population which has suffered the most. We must help these people. 


2009.gada brauciens uz Krieviju no 15.-26.jūnijam

Route: Riga – Moscow – Krasnoyarsk – Galanin – Kazachinska – Ikshurma – Lesosibirsk – Jeniseijska – a journey by ship to Yeniseysk to Igarka – Krasnoyarsk – Kansk – Dolgij most – Abana – Zapasnoj Imbezh – Suhanoy – Krasnoyarsk – Moscow – Riga.

We placed the eternal memorial plaque in memory of Latvian children and mothers- the victims of the deportations 1941-1949 – in Yeniseysk, Igarka and Aban.

…un Igarka, Cerība un Taurenis, 2008

In the summer of 1929, 160 kilometres beyond the Arctic Circle and on the right bank of the Yenisey River, a group of Russian farmers who had fallen victim to Soviet collectivisation were deposited on the shore from several barges.  Were there hundreds of them?  Perhaps thousands?  Who knows?  They are all buried there.  It is said that nearly all of them died during the winter – the strong men of Siberia, along with their wives and small children.  Even if there was any registration of this tragedy at that time, then nothing is left today.  Those were the days when Stalin’s idea that “if there is a man, there is a problem; if there is no man, then there is no problem” was in full swing.  The first victims of famine, fold and disease were buried not far from the tents and wooden huts in which people lived.  Their graves are long gone, because an entire city, complete with a massive wood processing industry, was built on top of their bones.  This was the first result of industrialisation in Russia’s polar regions.  This is the city of Igarka. Continue reading “…un Igarka, Cerība un Taurenis, 2008”

600 stāsti par Sibīriju

Between 2000 and 2007,  we interviewed 670 people who were deported to Siberia in 1941, when they were children.  Fragments of memories shape a mosaic which reveals all of the tragedies of the past – the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who were lost for all time.  They say that time heals all wounds, but people cannot forget.  They must tell their story… Continue reading “600 stāsti par Sibīriju”