The Children of Siberian Labor Camps

My Family, 60 Years After GULAG

A photographic contemplation on the history and lives of a generation of my family members who were, more than 60 years ago, sent to and survived, as children, years of exile in the Siberian labor camps.

More than 50 years have passed since the last surviving members of my family returned to their native Latvia from their imprisonment in the Siberian labor camps. They had all been sent to Siberia without a crime to report, without a trial, and without a return date. During their years in Siberia they had all been made to starve, to work long, excruciating hours in most trying circumstances, and to watch many of their friends and family members perish. They were all children.  

It was only after Latvia regained independence, that the fate of many of my older relatives I had known so well as a child growing up in Soviet Latvia was revealed to us, the younger generation. The events of the Stalinist era never made it to our history books, and were forever banned from all conversations in our homes. The cost of discussing anything related to the issues of Stalinism during the Soviet times was too high, carrying for those returned from the labor camps the risk of losing their recovered lives. 

These children, now old men and women, are still among us. After decades of living with memories they could not claim, they have re-built their lives with humility and quiet perseverance. Their hands are those of hardworking men and women. Their adobes, as their days, are simple. Their eyes still bear their silence.