Posted 15 июня 2021, 07:23
Published 15 июня 2021, 07:23
Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:37
Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:37
As you know, the Russian authorities, which declared the country the legal successor of the USSR, thus appropriated all Soviet achievements, first of all, victory in the war. On the other hand, they tried to either forget the crimes of the Soviet regime or to keep silent. Including this: On June 14, in the former republics of the so-called Soviet Baltic states - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - the Day of Sorrow and Hope is celebrated. It was 80 years ago, on June 14, 1941, a week before the start of the Soviet-German war, that the deportation of Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians to Siberia began. It is believed that this tragedy has affected every family in the Baltic States.
The state Russian mass media either do not speak about this "anniversary" or speak extremely reluctantly. Indeed, just a week after it will burst another anniversary, so dear to the heart of every patriot - the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the great war, which has become a kind of national idea for modern Russia. However, non-state media and social networks have not forgotten the events of 80 years ago.
The first mass deportation of residents of these countries took place less than a year after the country's annexation to the USSR. Thus, in Latvia, on the night of June 13-14, 1941, eight days before the Nazi invasion of the USSR, the Soviet authorities arrested 15,425 people, including 3,750 children under the age of 16. They were loaded into cattle cars and taken to a special settlement in Siberia or to the GULAG camps. Most of them were Latvians, but they also repressed Latvian Jews, Russians, Germans and others. Men over 16 years old - there were more than eight thousand of them - were separated from their families and sent to camps, and some were shot. Women, children, the elderly and the sick were taken to remote parts of the USSR - mainly to settlements in the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Tomsk Region. The trains went on for several weeks. Many children and elderly people died on the way, many who survived the journey could not stand the first Siberian winter - in total, about six thousand people died. The operation was directed against the elite - the political and military elite, intelligentsia, businessmen.
Inese Dreimane, a historian and employee of the Latvian Museum of Occupation, told the Russian media about the background and details of these events:
“In 1940, Latvia was occupied and incorporated into the Soviet Union, just like the other Baltic republics, Lithuania and Estonia, the western parts of Belarus and Ukraine, which were torn away from Poland. These were the newly occupied countries of the USSR, in which — at least in Latvia — there were no immediate acts of resistance. But by the end of the year, people began to express dissatisfaction, and it grew. In the process of nationalization, their property was taken away from them: houses, factories, land. There were arrests, all public organizations were disbanded, former employees of various institutions were fired from their jobs and were not taken in other places as politically unreliable. This happened wherever the Red Army entered. And the NKVD (since March 1941, the NKGB) began to feel that discontent would grow, that routine arrests and detentions were not enough to maintain control over the situation, and the Soviet authorities might face a massive protest. Therefore, it was decided one day to "withdraw" from the territories of the newly occupied countries people who could offer resistance, as well as those who had already been reported. Moreover, it was supposed to take away not only them, but also members of their families, because if it were only about individual arrests, then even more dissatisfied people would remain on the spot.
The development of the operation began in Moscow, in the central apparatus of the Communist Party and the NKVD / NKGB. The categories of the population subject to expulsion were the same everywhere, with the exception of some local peculiarities. In Latvia, these were the owners of large nationalized enterprises, factories, landowners, from whom significant allotments were taken away, large homeowners. Repression and deportation were subject to the leadership of the police, members of the volunteer militia - aizsargi (paramilitaries in Latvia in 1919–40 - editor's note) and officers of the armed forces, including young lieutenants who had recently graduated from the school. Family members of those arrested and sentenced to death were also going to be expelled. People who passed this category, in most cases, did not even know that the arrested family member, most often it was about men, the head of the family, was sentenced to death. (...)
People were read out a decree that they were being moved, sometimes without indicating where, they were allowed to take things no more than 100 kg per family. Sometimes someone, for example a Soviet soldier, who was familiar with the Siberian frosts, could whisper: "Take warm clothes, jewelry, everything valuable." But many did not take unnecessary things, hoping that they would soon be released. They were officially given an hour for the training camp, people were rushed. (...)
The road was difficult, the food we had taken with us ran out and deteriorated, there was not enough water. Breastfeeding mothers lost milk from stress. People started dying on the way. There were cases when they took their own lives, sometimes they killed children at the same time - mostly, they opened their veins. Since the war broke out shortly after the deportation, the convoys stood on the tracks for a long time, letting the military echelons that had priority pass. Basically, by the end of June and in July, all were delivered to their destinations..."
And here is how those events are recalled in the book "Children of Siberia", compiled from the memoirs of the deported, brothers Edgars and Edvins Abele, who survived in exile, who were then children:
“We arrived by car and were allowed to take with us only as much as they could carry. They took us to the station in Saldus, drove us into wagons. The father was immediately separated. The carriages were packed. We slept, huddled closely together. First we got to Krasnoyarsk, then they transported us to a station called Klyukvennaya, then 30 kilometers on horseback to a state farm where pigs were raised. Five families were settled in two rooms - there were 12 of us in total (...)
The train started the next morning. The doors were closed. Security was on duty. They stopped at the stations, because on the way to the train, they were constantly clinging to carriages. At the border, they realized that they were taking us to Russia. We drove for three weeks. On the way, they gave out a brick [bread] - salted. They gave me a bucket of soup, and there was boiling water. The hardest thing was for people with small children, with babies. The mothers had no food, the children were crying. The darkest moment was when the child died. Mother tore at her hair. At the next station, the corpse was taken away. I remember this day every time the conversation about deportation comes up. (...)
The collective farm chiefs arrived and it began as in a slave market. First, they took away those who did not have children, then the rest ... Everyone worked - sifting grain, picking potatoes, working in the field. We had to carry firewood. Mom almost froze - the bulls were tired and lay down in the snow, there was a blizzard, but they were not moving ... They lived in an old collapsed building, there used to be a chicken coop. The manure was about half a meter. Mom cleaned it out. They did not know the language, at first they explained by gestures. A huge cast-iron cauldron stood in the middle of the room. When they froze, they sat inside and set fire to them below. As long as we could endure, we sat and warmed ourselves..."
It is impossible not to mention that after the war, in March 1949, another deportation took place - more than 42 thousand people, among whom were mainly peasants and those who were suspected of participating in the "nationalist underground". 95% of the deported were Latvians. More than five thousand people have died...