Book “SHALOM, SIBERIA!” presentation in the Jewish Museum in Latvia

Foundation “The children of Siberia” and Museum “The Jews in Latvia” with the support of the Uniting History Foundation invites you to Dzintra Geka’s book “SHALOM, SIBERIA!” presentation that will take place September 15, at 18:00, in the Jewish community of Riga, Skolas Street 6.
Among the deportees of Latvia deported on June 14, 1941, there were also 1,789 Jews. There were also many children and teenagers among them, the youngest of whom was 2 months old. In many families, children were also born in Siberia, in an eternal – as it seemed at the time – camp. Dz. The Gecca book contains dozens of interviews that have been collected over many years, mainly in Israel. We will also hear excerpts from these stories at the event.
Admission to the event is free.
Photographs and videos will be taken during the event.
All COVID-19 prevention measures will be met during the event.

Fragments from Book

Leo Berlins, 10 years old

About once every ten days I had to go to the command post to note that you had not left. And no one knew exactly which day to call. There was a man – a “ten” who went to the command post almost every day, where he was determined on which day everyone should be led to celebrate. Whenever we came to the commandant’s office with Gunārs Brauns (we rented a private apartment because there was not enough space for everyone in the dormitory), we were amazed at how many of our institutes had to go to celebrate. It turns out that a third of the students were deported – Jews, Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians, Volga Germans. We went to the command post office for up to a year, because in the autumn we received passports. There was something similar in my passport to the text that the passport was issued on the basis of a KGB certificate – as a person released from prison. He really wanted to go to Riga, although he didn’t have many relatives left. Because none of mom’s many brothers and sisters were living in the middle anymore. Everyone died in the Riga Ghetto. Only the cousin who had hidden and then evacuated survived. She also invited me to visit. In 1955, shortly before going to Riga, my passport was stolen from my pocket on the bus. The passport was stolen, but two rubles were left. The militia said that I could drive if I had another document. I had a communist membership card, a student card, a trade union card. Of course, I took a risk because there were possible document checks on the way. But I was lucky and I had a good summer in Riga. When I returned to Krasnoyarsk, I received a passport. I became envious because there was no other entry in the new passport, just that the passport was issued in place of the lost one. When I arrived in 1956, I met my future wife. After the institute, I tried to get a diploma without a post. I ended up with very good results, I even received an increased scholarship while studying. Thanks to that, I managed to get out of Siberia and return to Riga. Mom and sister remained in the North – they fought for a few more years to be fired. When I returned to Latvia, it was difficult for me to get a registration in Riga. After Khrushchev’s visit to Latvia, Berklav was removed, and then the floods of the occupiers began. I am well acquainted with Berklav. In order to get a record and get a job, I had to go to the archives, look for a statement that I had lived here for up to a year. At first I got a not very good job – in the army part as a mechanic (had to work with soldiers, generals), but gave me an apartment. There was no convenience in it, toilet outside, without warm water … But its own. A year later I started working at the Riga Electromechanical Factory. There were mostly Russian-speaking people there, so I almost forgot the Latvian language. Only now that I have become a house manager (I manage a house that partly belonged to my father and we were deported because of it) and I have to talk to Latvians, I started speaking Latvian again. Of course, not so good as to be able to tell your life story in detail.

Ida Blumenau, 13th century

My father was in Šķirotava, not in Salaspils, and I was in Torņakalns. I was put in the car and after half an hour the train left. It was a cattle wagon. Mermaids were made and, sorry, a box instead of a toilet. It was covered with a sheet. We drove to Siberia for 3 weeks. Along the Yenisei to Turhanska, from Turhanska via Verkhny Tungusk 900 km to Evenk National District. It is possible to get there only when the river is free of ice and you can ride a barge. In this way, the products were brought there and, if they had the opportunity, drove back. One year we forgot to bring salt, and we lived a year without salt. That was the stuff. The father ended up in Solikamsk, a labor camp, and was punished by a “troika”. One by one he called and asked, “Have you been abroad?” He replied that yes. It was a great sin, immediately suspected of espionage. “What did you do there?” “How what? I worked!” He was given 5 years. A socially dangerous element … When he got to the camp, he weighed 86 kilograms, but in 1943 he weighed 38 kilograms. Of course, he couldn’t work, it didn’t make sense to keep him in the hospital, where else to feed him … And then he was activated. Released. “Go where you want, to all four sides of the sky!” He was starving, unable to stand. He wrote us a letter: “Come, get me out of here, and bring me warm clothes.” When we arrived in Siberia, my mother and brother were asked to sign that we had been sent to volunteer accommodation. We did not have any documents. We wrote to Dad that we can’t come, that we don’t have a passport, that we have been voluntarily relocated, sent out for 25 years. My mother was from a poor family, from the age of 13 she worked in Riga, in my father’s family, then she married her father. She did any work. When she had to go, she went to get a dose of food, others died of starvation. They did not know what to do. I remember the Catcenellenbogen family. She sold a karakulada fur coat for a bag of potatoes, a diamond brooch for a bag of flour … They ate everything and they died of starvation anyway. The eldest daughter survived. She had a friend, an acquaintance. In my opinion, he worked in power structures. When they returned from the North, they got married and he took her away. Mother and other daughter died. Levenberg survived. A mother with two daughters was not sent to the North.

Joachim Brown, 11 years old

My mother had graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory and worked as a piano teacher. In the 1930s, she was very well known in Latvia. She had many students, and every year her class gave concerts at the Conservatory. My father was a teacher and worked at an Yiddish school in Gertrude until he was arrested as a Social Democrat. He was a “bundist”, a member of the so-called Jewish national party, the Bund. He resumed his work a week or two after the Soviet era. There were four of us in the family – mother, father, brother Hermanis Brauns (a well – known pianist in Latvia) and I. He came after us on June 14, 2006 … His brother was also on the list, but at that time he was mobilized in the army and served in Ludza. When I woke up, there were already three men in the apartment with guns. They began to swear all over the apartment, but they told us this: take a suitcase or two, put everything you need. There is an order to take us about 100 km from Latvia, because for security reasons we are not allowed to stay in Riga for some time. But then we’ll be home again. I also saw that one of the strangers took a small briefcase, which belonged to us, and began to put in it all the jewelry found in the apartment, including silver knives, forks and spoons …

My nanny Marija Bundziniece stayed in the apartment. After the war we met him again. We were taken by truck either to the goods station or to Zasulaukis, I don’t remember so precisely. Cattle wagons collapsed. A soldier with a rifle stood at the door of each wagon. We were all together for about 24 hours: men, women and children. The next day, all the men were taken away, leaving only the women and children. After 2-3 days of standing, the train started moving. of the soldiers around us no longer talking to us: neither did we know where we were going, nor why were we going, nor where were the men staying. We spent about 20 days driving and standing.

Silva Haitina, 9 years

Dzerzhinsk was bad – there was nothing to sell. I remember having to sell my last panties to my girlfriend. Her mom had products available and Whale was walking in my panties. There was a two-storey school in Dzerzhinsk, large. I was scared. I was approached by a girl with whom I am still in contact – Lucia Berina, and her mother was the director of the bakery. It was already a dream come true! She gave me a bite of her sandwich. It was 1945. I had good musical hearing, and on May 9, I proudly walked in front of the school with drums. I remember everything, down to the smallest detail like nails in the walls … Mom moved to Kanska. She received permission in 1945. There we rented a room and studied in the 5th grade. Opposite the school was the NKVD. I had no idea, I just knew that my mother was terribly afraid of this institution. I knew my mom went to a celebration every two weeks. My mom was a beautiful woman, and when she went there, she cleaned her lipstick. She had a terrible cotton ball. My mom also smoked, and when she went to celebrate, she got ready for a horrible sight. When I asked her why she was doing this, she replied – it’s not your business! I went to school at the NKVD. I was 13 years old when we learned that Latvia is collecting children from Siberia who do not have parents or have a bad life to take home. I told my mother that if you didn’t let me go, I’d either hang up here or take the train. I was not an obedient child, my mother knew that I could carry out my threats. Mom promised to do everything to send me away. She corresponded with an uncle in Moscow, said that a small, still child, would not run away in the evenings, and asked me to take me with her for a while. She sent me to Moscow with another child. I realized that I would not be taken to Kanska for any money. My uncle enrolled me at school. It turned out that it was a model school for girls in Moscow, on the corner of Kirova Street. I behaved wonderfully, but until the minute I started going to school. At school it turned out that I could not behave. The girls walking down the corridor were not girls in my view. I pulled her behind the braids, spat, cursed. “Mats” was a familiar thing to me. I knew it couldn’t. I was soon expelled from school. There was nowhere to look. I said again: if I am sent to Kansu, I will hang on to their lamp. Uncle corresponded with his mother’s relatives in Kaunas, his mother’s cousin came. There was a gymnasium in Kaunas. I studied at a Russian school, where there were mostly officers’ children. There were also locals who spoke Russian. I had a girlfriend from the same house, Renate Slikevich – she also went to a Russian school. At first I had a hard time because I didn’t know the Lithuanian language. I was not interested in the documents at school, I wrote a lie in the questionnaire that my mother was in an evacuation, but my father died on the front of work. That’s what it was called. I went to Leningrad, but I was not accepted anywhere. I did not understand – why. I wanted to do literature. I was rejected everywhere. I understood: I wrote in the questionnaire that I had a silver medal, but in paragraph 5 I wrote that I was Jewish. I was told everywhere that there were vacancies, but after reading the questionnaire, I was right – we forgot to tell you that the admission is over …


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