Book «The children of Siberia»
Book. The children of Siberia. Part. I and Part II. 1440p. y.2012. by Foundation «Sibirijas Berni»
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 1970’s, 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.
The book «Children of Siberia» Introduction
Hunger, cold, fear, violence, despair, obstinacy, hope and struggle for life and self-esteem unites all 20. century tragic historical events in children — those who remember the loss of Latvian Freedom 1940, the country multiple occupation during World War II, deportation, refugee, recycling and re-deportation refugee. Cold winds of fate have left deep in the hearts of these children experiences that flashes memories from time to time, either as a continuous railway Duna, or caustic cold barracks, potato peel or crust promise of tomorrow, but above it all — the desire for humanity in the hands of tenderness, sciences and games. Siberia or in refugee camps in the western area of the horrors of war Latvian or elsewhere in Europe — the scar and the ability to survive and become successful in their humanity and their shared life. Holy work done «Siberian child ‘initiative, and also the people who within the Museum, or otherwise, have been made in the audio file, or video at a fixed writing of the various nations of human destinies historical heritage, as it is very popular and important the general history of our country identification. During my life I have tried to identify even a few dozen children living in exile story, and would be very pleased if this work continues. Because we would have identified cross-cutting its history as a more realistic and focused view can create their own future — as a country that is itself aware of the opportunities and actively engaged in their daily lives, and also on the foreign policy stage does not allow the world to forget the events that so tragically and violently so impressed many countries and the fate of people’s lives. It is amazing how many people have gone through unimaginable hardship and challenges that have managed to maintain an encouraging view of life, the experiences hammered strong character and willpower, have been able to survive, achieve success, and don’t allow to be depressed scars, but devote their efforts to wound turn into strength, hope, and heart pulsating beams of light. All of us, each in its own way, it has been home to come Latvia regained independence. Today is the duty and responsibility to continue an active life story of finding a job — it is necessary not only history, but also to our nation, deeply listening to each other and understanding, further strengthening the unity of the bridge. People’s stories and characters form the soul and conscience. Although much scattered in the world, but they are all united in Latvia. People’s life stories form a bridge through which all can come home. Latvian.
The President of Latvia (1999-2007)