Childhood is one of the most important periods in a person’s life and often dictates the future. Childhood generally is portrayed as a carefree and happy time. But was it the same during the various difficult and even tragic events in Latvia’s history of the 20th century? Using the testimonies from the Audio-Visual Archive of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, we have created a series of videos “Childhood. Five Stories About”. These fragments have been compiled into 5 stories, that reveal life in independent Latvia, the tragic events of the Second World War, in the difficult post-war period, during the Soviet occupation, and Atmoda from a child’s perspective. Family, games, school, and language are a few of the aspects through which life “through a child’s eyes” is revealed.
We will begin to publish stories starting with 27 October – World Day for Audio-visual heritage. Our Audio-Visual Archive keeps only a few authentic films, audio, and video materials dating back to the occupations, but the largest part of the archive consists of video testimonies. These are memories of witnesses of the occupations in a form of a life story, that was filmed starting with 1996. At the moment archive keeps 2408 video testimonies that are 4412 hours long.
In 2021 the Education department is planning to supplement the series with methodical study materials, so they could be used in history classes in schools. Children for children.
The project “Childhood. Five Stories About” is financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.
The heroes of this story are sharing their memories about their happy childhood in pre-war Latvia. Olita Medne (b.1932), Inta Krūmiņa (1993-2009), Alfrēds Puškevičs (1931-2015) un Irēna Valija Ābele (b.1926) were deported on 14 June 1941. Lorija Šneidere (1924-2009) for anti-soviet activity was arrested in 1947, but Skaidrīte Meldriņa (1923-2008) ended up in a filtration camp in Siberia in 1945. Only Maiga Fridvalde (b.1926) wasn’t repressed by the Soviet regime.
2nd story. Second World War
The heroes of the second story have spent their childhood during the Second World War. Elma Miniate (1925-2011) saw the Red army coming into Latvia in the summer of 1940, Lonija Šneidere (1924 -2009) and Aina Lesiņa (1934-2008) lived through the scare of attacks and bombardment by the German forces, Valentīns Kalniņš (b.1933) lived next to the Biķernieku forest, where mass killings of Jews were organized at the end of 1941, Inta Krūmiņa (1933-2009) wasn’t allowed to go to school in Siberia, Sylvia Gunther (b.1940) went to Germany at the start of the war and never again returned back to Latvia, Lidija Bormane (1931-2012) experienced Red army soldier cruelty towards her mother.
In the conclusion of the video story series, children who were born in the occupied country and witnessed restoration of the independence of Latvia are sharing their childhood memories. Andrejs Gusačenko (b. 1982) was born in Russia and moved to Soviet Latvia with his family when he was two years old. He tells about joining the Little Octobrists organisation (for ages 7-9), and how his family supported the independence of Latvia. Izanda Asja Puncule (b. 1984) was born in Canada. In 1990, she visited her grandparent's home country - Latvia. She remembers that Riga looked gloomy, the children of her relatives did not speak English, but they spoke Russian. Now she lives in Latvia. Kārlis Krēķis (b. 1977) was born and grew up in Soviet Latvia. He tells about playing on the roofs of Riga's buildings and working in the garden. Oskars Gruziņš (b. 1986) was born during the Latvian National Awakening period, and one of his first childhood memories is about the barricades in Riga. A very amusing story is about a package from America containing in Latvia still unknown "Kellogg's" cereal. Lelde Neimane (b. 1977), as a child witnesses, very emotional moments - the adoption of the Declaration "On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia" on 4 May 1990 and the demonstration on 13 January 1991 in Riga.