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Portrait

Silva Linarte: exiled, escaped and deported again

CERCEC
4 min

Born in 1939 in Daugavpils, south-east Latvia, Silva Linarte was first deported in June 1941, to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. She returned to a Riga orphanage in 1946 before being deported a second time in 1951. She returned to Riga in 1956. Silva was interviewed in Daugavpils in January 2009 by Alain Blum and Juliette Denis.

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You know, in Siberia, I had a skirt made out of oil cloth. Oil cloth from the bags that were used to feed the horses. My mother made it for me and I held it together with a piece of lace.

Silva Linarte was born in 1939 into a relatively wealthy and intellectual family, the daughter of a teacher. When Soviet troops invaded Latvia, her father refused to denounce his colleagues and, in June 1941, was arrested and sentenced to forced labour in the Viatlag camp in the far North. He died in there in 1942. Silva, together with her mother and her sisters, was deported to the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia.

Silva Linarte's photos

In 1947, knowing that children without parents were allowed to return home, Silva’s mother successfully passed her daughter off as an orphan. She was packed onto a train with dozens of other children and sent to an orphanage in Latvia.

Her mother subsequently managed to escape from Siberia and made her way back to Riga in 1949. In 1951, however, she was denounced to the Soviet authorities, who deported her and her daughters to Krasnoyarsk a second time.

Her mother later died of cancer. Silva was finally allowed to return first to Riga, then to Daugavpils in 1956, where she began the slow and difficult process of resuming her life.

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