The Memories of Valçrija Sieceniece
Sieceniece, Valçrija; the daughter of Pçteris; born in 1905; lived in Riga,
Margrietas iela 16-3; deported on June 14, 1941, to Novosibirsk province,
Parabel region; released on May 29, 1956. Archive File Nr. 17775.
From: Aizvestie. 1941. gada 14. jűnijs. (The Deported. June 14, 1941)
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progress of the interview or the interviewee’s intonation
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All life story excerpts are written so as to correspond to the interviewee’s
manner of speech.
Well, and as would be expected, there came a knock on the door during the
night on June 13-14. And in came Treijs, who was in charge of this whole
thing, and someone who had just been released from prison, most likely some
political prisoner, and some other people. And they read a memorandum to us,
that we have to now leave Latvian territory, depart. They comforted us,
saying, “You’ll all be able to work in your speciality there.”
Well, I was very worried, and I wondered how my mother would handle it. And
so I placed a call to “Âvas” – that’s what the farm was called – but the
phone didn’t work. Then my husband asked for permission to call his mother.
I guess that made Treijs feel uncomfortable, and he allowed the call. Mrs.
Siecenieks came over; she came over with her grandson Marěers. And we
started packing, and you know, I was confused, especially when they said
that it’ll be like this or that, that we’ll work in our specialties. And
instinctively I packed as I usually packed when getting ready for a trip
abroad. So you can imagine what was in the suitcases, right?
Mâra Zirnîte: Well, what was in them?
Valçrija Sieceniece: Well, there were elegant dresses, elegant shoes,
everything corresponding to what I was like then … But then Treijs took pity
on us and told us, and then I more or less understood everything.
“Well, that won’t do it. You need to take along bedding, winter clothing,
warm clothing, and so on.” And then I took one large bed sheet and began to
throw everything into it – even ski boots, ski jackets and warm underwear
and blankets and, well, everything. And I tied it all up. There must have
been two large bundles. Well, and then they… Well, Mrs. Siecenieks, of
course, was crying… They called out a truck, a big truck, because all of
that would not fit into a regular car. And I remember that my mother-in-law
was holding out her hands and calling, “Sasha! Sasha!” She never saw him
We went down the stairs, and I saw – when we had gotten down to the street –
that both Professor Gartjç [Vai viňđ bija latvietis vai sveđtautietis? Ja
sveđtautietis, tad angďu tekstâ vajadzçtu viňa uzvârdu rakstît
oriěinâlvalodâ, piemçram, Gartier, ja viňđ bija francűzis.] and his wife
were standing – he lived in the first floor apartment – standing by the
window and waving to us. We got into the truck, and all of our bundles were
put in there as well. First we were taken to the Torňakalns train station,
and afterwards it turned out, whether the train was there, or whether it was
already full, or what. And along the way we saw many more trucks like ours.
Near the bridge across the Daugava my husband said, “Well, take a last look
And I said spontaneously, “No! This won’t be the last time; I will return!”
I returned, but he didn’t return.
Our end station was in Novosibirsk. There we were all made to take our
belongings and get off the train. I climbed out – as mother told me later –
because I didn’t have any other kind of clothing, in an elegant suit, an
elegant hat from Paris and snake-skin shoes. Well, that’s all I was able to
wear, that’s all I had. And I was standing there by my things, and all of a
sudden Spilva runs up to me and says, “Vallij, your mother is here!”
Well, I dropped everything and ran as fast as I could, and noticed a small,
pale woman. Well, we fell into each other and hugged, and then I got this
real drive and energy to live, because for a while there in the train I
wasn’t even eating anymore. I wasn’t eating anything; I didn’t want to live
anymore. And then there was that man from the Jewish family, who had noticed
that I was not eating and began to talk with me. And he began to convince me.
And that helped me. And then I began to eat again. But then came the next
problem – we were each in a different train car, and they grouped us
together by train cars. So… we might be separated again. Well… then I…my
advantage was that I could speak Russian perfectly, because I had graduated
from a Russian school, and I saw right away who was in charge there. I went
up to him and said, “Look, this is the situation: I don’t want to be
separated from my mother – how shall we arrange this?”
[..] We got off in a village called Kuchi in Parabel region. That’s where we
had to get out. The locals had gathered along the river’s edge. Well, the
sight was just too pathetic. They were dressed so poorly, everybody in
shabby clothing. You can imagine – there were no definite, bright colours.
Emaciated. Children with bare feet and bloated stomachs, with big eyes in
their little heads, dressed in mother’s or father’s jacket, also came
running. And everyone looked at these people with great wonder. It was
planned… And you know who they were? They were people who had lived there
for 15 years already, the so-called kulaks from the Altai. They were taken
there and left in the taiga, and made to dig holes for dugout buildings, and
to cover them with the…well, with pine branches. They had to spend the
winter there, and not everyone survived. The government gave a small
allowance to those who did survive, so that they could buy a cow. And, of
course, they had to build their own houses. They were log houses with moss
stuffed between the logs, very primitive. There were no bricks, so for a
chimney they used a cast iron pot with no bottom. Well, the locals… But the
locals expressed a wish to… They felt sorry for us; they saw who we were.
And they thought that we would perish out there. They offered to take us in,
in their houses. It could very well be that there was a certain reason that
we came with suitcases and all of our belongings. They could choose. We –
mother and I – were chosen by a woman with poor… Later she told us why she
had chosen us, she said that it was because she had two rooms – in the first
room was the big stove, and then a second room. And because she had six
children of her own, she couldn’t take a family with a child, and so she
chose both of us. Mrs. Raudseps and the old lady and little Maija were
chosen by a local villager who also lived in a small house …
End of interview excerpt.
NMV 75: VALÇRIJA SIECENIECE, born 1905.
Interviewed in Riga, Latvia, on June 6, 1993.
Interviewed by Mâra Zirnîte and Vilis Zirnîtis.
Transcribed by Ieva Darviňa.
Edited and prepared for publication by Mâra Zirnîte and Ieva Garda.