Jaunā Gaita nr. 191, marts 1993

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JG 191

In this issue, Jaunā Gaita is emphasizing Latvia's tragic history since the beginning of the Second World War. We have two articles and a photo reportage about the Communist deportations from Latvia in the spring of 1949. The main victims of these deportations were small farmers and their families, and the purpose of the deportations was to speed up the formation of collective farms - with many of the real owners in Siberia, and the remainder terrorized, collectivization could proceed at a fast pace. The photographs were done by a sixth-grade student, Elmārs Heniņš, and show a train of deportees at various stages during its departure from Skrunda station in central Kurzeme. Heniņš' brother Arturs provides the brief text accompanying the photographs, while Elmārs' classmate Herberts Dzērve matter-of-factly describes his family's deportation.

Historian Jānis Krēsliņš, in a review article about Haralds Biezais' monograph on Latvian cooperation with the occupiers during the German occupation of Latvia from 1941 to 1944, agrees with Biezais' conclusion, largely based on documents in German archives, that Latvians too often cooperated with the Germans to a much greater extent than can be justified by the usual reasons, "to fight the Communists and free Latvia". Krēsliņš quotes Prof. Biezais' logical and unsentimental conclusion at the end of the book: "We have avoided looking deeper into this tragic part of our nation's history. This is perfectly understandable. All of our dreams are bound up with a visionary Latvia of the future. This will come, but only to those who will have had the courage to examine Latvia's history such as it really is, and the capacity to admit that outsiders can never bring a nation its freedom." At the end of his article, Krēsliņš expresses the hope that similar documentation of the Soviet occupation of Latvia will occur.

Three major contributors to both JG and the Latvian exile community have provided articles on reforms in Latvia in three areas: education, economics and historical research. Valters Nollendorfs, one of the founders of Jauna Gaita and a past president of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, spent several months researching education in Latvia. He presents his conclusions and suggestions on the role of the exile community in the process of rebuilding Latvia's educational system. Brunis Rubess, who is currently a consultant to the Bank of Latvia, summarizes the current economic situation in Latvia, emphasizing that, although much has been accomplished (a Swedish report states that "Latvia has acted as well as is possible and has earned all the support that can be given"), no one should expect miracles: too many of the "old ways", both in thinking and in business practice, still remain. Andrievs Ezergailis praises the work of Latvian historians since the declaration of sovereignty in 1991. He sees three main areas of activity: the endowment of a chair of Latvian history at the University of Latvia and the re-establishment of the Institute of Latvian History, the publication of two journals devoted to Latvian history, and research in the archives of the NKVD, the Communist Party and other formerly secretive Soviet organizations.

This year Latvia is holding its first parliamentary elections since the 1991 declaration of sovereignty, while Canada held a national constitutional referendum in 1992. Juris Mazutis discusses the Canadian referendum, where the government's and national elite's position was defeated in most areas of Canada (although the reasons for its defeat in Quebec were quite different from the reasons for its defeat in Western Canada). Mazutis concludes that the defeat was mainly caused by the isolation of the government from ordinary people, who are much more concerned with Canada's economic viability than with constitutional details.

Nikolajs Bulmanis contributes an obituary of artist Arnolds Treibergs (1906-1993), while Ruta Čaupova discusses the latest exhibition, called "Crossroads", by sculptor Vilnis Titāns. Titāns describes his work as the result of "bringing together symbolism based on nature, with the symbolism of Latvian folk ornaments."

Viktors Hausmanis interviewed actress Brigita Siliņa on the occasion of her recent performance in Riga, in Raimonds Staprāns' play Mieles (The Dregs). Siliņa and her husband Laimonis Siliņš are the heart of the remarkable Latvian ensemble, the "little theatre of San Francisco", which has maintained consistently high standards, pioneering new techniques and presenting new authors, as well as classics, to Latvian audiences around the world. Gunta Plostniece reviews the New York performance of the Boys' Choir of the Riga Dom, during their North American tour in the fall of 1992, and Gunars Zvejnieks compares the recent Baltic Festival held in Sweden, a well-organized, well-attended and well-presented musical event, with the "Latvian Day" held in Stockholm in 1930. Gunars Bekmans has contributed a short story called "Love in Cairo".

Poetry in this issue is by Valentīns Pelēcis, Pēters Brūveris, and Roberts Mūks. We also have a special section of poetry and congratulations dedicated to Roberts Mūks, by Jānis Krēsliņš, Gunars Saliņš, Aina Kraujiete, and Viktors Neimanis, representing the Latvian Writers' Association, and the Latvian Writers' Union in Riga, on the occasion of Mūks' 70' th birthday.

The book section contains four reviews. Maruta Voitkus-Lūkina reviews three books by Erna Ķikure, who began writing when she lived in Australia, but now lives in Canada. Marianna Ievina reviews Jānis Kalniņš' biographical novel about the novelists Matīss (1848 - 1926) and Reinis Kaudzīte (1839 - 1920). The brothers' most famous work is the classic novel The Time of the Surveyors. Silvija Geikina discusses Viktors Hausmanis' compilation of autobiographical writings, interviews and letters by playwright Mārtiņš Zīverts. Juris Silenieks reviews three books of poetry by Velga Krile, Māra Misiņa and Anna Rancāne, each writer reflecting aspects of the "glasnost" period of 1985 - 1989.

Last but not least, JG is publishing two excerpts from an open letter by Lutheran minister Austra Reine to the newly-elected bishop of the Lutheran Church of Latvia, Jānis Vanags, expressing her conviction that the New Testament must be read not just by the letter, but by the spirit.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters and the frontispiece is by Vilnis Titāns (Latvia).


I.V., L.Z.

Jaunā Gaita