The 1949 deportation is commemorated at the Iecava station –


Yesterday, March 25, an event dedicated to the commemoration of the victims of the communist genocide was held at the monument to the repressed at the Iecava station.

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75 years have passed since March 25, 1949, when Latvian residents experienced mass deportations. A moment of remembrance at the monument to the repressed “Semaphore of Pain”, which was once made by the sculptor Mārtiņš Zaurs, was opened on Monday afternoon by Patrićia Spale and Anna Patrićia Karele, performing Raimonda Paul’s song “Mājās”.

“This pain does not and will not expire – it will continue for many generations, and we must not forget the fate of the people – the exiles – for a moment,” said Laimrota Jaunzeme, head of the artistic department of the Iecava House of Culture, “time has healed many carved scars, but the mind of the people will never forget this torment a path that must be holy, because it is made of life.” After the opening speech of the event, those present united in a common prayer, performing the national anthem of Latvia.

Normunds Vāvers, the head of the Iecava association’s administration, also addressed the gathering. “We have gathered today to commemorate those who experienced the March 25, 1949 deportation from their father’s home, from Latvia. This is one of the darkest pages in Latvia’s history – within a few days, the occupying power carried out the second mass deportation of Latvian people, which directly affected more than 42 thousand Latvian residents, including around 11 thousand children. 206 residents of Iecava and its surroundings were also deported,” said N. Vāvers in his speech, “there have been no deportations in Latvia for 75 years, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about it. There is a war going on in Ukraine, the forced flow of refugees and the deportation of people to the outskirts of Russia is proving to be a modern reality. The war is happening right next door, where the occupying army is mercilessly bombing civilian objects and killing civilians. We cannot correct history, but we can learn from it – both how valuable freedom is and how important it is not to give up in the face of various difficulties and to not lose humanity in the struggle.” After the speech, N. Vavers invited those present to observe a moment of silence to remember the victims of the repressions of 1949, who are no longer among us.

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Video: Iecavas Culture House

“Every year we remember those for whom these deportations have left deep scars in their hearts and souls, as well as broken up so many families. Every family has historical evidence, stories and experiences from the horrors experienced. The price of freedom is often underestimated. Nothing will outweigh the lives of those people, the ruined futures of those families who died in exile, on the road, in the wagons. We bow our heads in true respect to those people who found courage in themselves despite all the horrors, difficulties and sometimes seeming hopelessness. Courage to dare to survive, not to give up and return to the homeland”, said L. Jaunzeme during the event.

At the end of the commemoration, those present together performed the song “I will sing for you, father’s land!”.

Mārtiņš Rāviņš, an inmate from Iecava, whose family was deported from Iecava during the 1949 deportations, attended the event together with several others. He was born abroad in Siberia, Omsk region, in 1951. He himself remembers little from the time of deportation, but he returned to Latvia at the age of four and a half.

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“In 1949, my grandparents and parents were deported from the Iecava station to Siberia, Omsk region, and were camped in the Kručinska region. My brother and three sisters were also repressed – I myself was born in Siberia in 1952. At that time, we lived in Zālīte, but the family was not taken out of our parents’ house, because our parents had fled to Kurzemi, but when they returned, one Soviet militiaman was already living in our parents’ house. Our family had to go live with the neighbors, and they sent my family away without property, without anything,” confides her memories, a resident Aija Strauss, “grandparents and a little brother died in Siberia, but those who survived returned home in 1957, when I was five and a half years old – my older sister returned first, then the rest of us. We, all four sisters, are still alive and sticking together. One of the sisters was 11 years old at the time of removal, the other was ten, the third was only two and a half years old, and the little brother was six years old at the time.”

A. Strauss says that she herself remembers little from the time of deportation, but her sisters have told her about this time. About 30 years ago, she and her sisters found letters that their mother had written to her sister in Iecava in the attic of her mother’s sister’s house. “In the first letter, my mother wrote what their journey to the camp was like, how everyone was sorted on the way. We collected these letters so that each of us had a copy of them – there are 16 letters in total about the first years in Siberia. Today, remembering that time and telling the story, it’s not the same as reading a “living” letter written by my mother,” A. Strauss shares the story.

Her sister Astra KriņĖele, who had also come to the repressed commemoration, was older at the time of deportation and remembers that she shouted all the time on the train that she wanted milk. She says that after the long journey to the camp, even though she was already a little over two years old, she no longer learned to walk.

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Rita Sproģe lived in the Daugavpils district at the time of deportation, and her family was taken out of Nīcgale station. At the time when the family was deported, R. Sprogei was only 11 months old, and her one-year anniversary was “welcomed” in a cattle wagon on the way to Omsk region. “My father’s brother stayed in Nīcgale, and when the echelon passed by the village, he thought that he would also be taken in the wagon, but he was left in Latvia – my father said goodbye to him,” says the repressed R. Sproģe, “we returned to Latvia in 1960, we were in the camp together. 11 years, and the whole family came back together – also with a little brother who was born in Siberia. Currently, only me and my brother, who lives in Riga, are alive.”

R. Sproģe and her brother finished the seven-year school in Nīcgale, but she studied the first six grades in Siberia. In Latvia, the family lived “on suitcases” all the time, because they were not allowed to stay in one place for a long time. In Ventspils, in the forests of Ugāle, their parents got a job at resin rolling and lived there for a while, because no one was looking for them in the forest. When people were allowed to live where they want, the family from Ventspils later also moved to Iecava, so that the children could be closer to Riga and could go to school. “I don’t remember the beginning of the deportation, but I remember school time in Siberia – we were called all kinds of names, but we studied very well. There was very little left until the end of school, but it was time to return to my homeland,” recalls R. Sproģe.

The article is in Latvian

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