Jaunā Gaita nr. 224, marts, 2001

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JG 224

Pāvils Johansons concludes his intimate memoir of life in Stockholm with his parents, the writer Andrejs Johansons and poet Veronika Strēlerte. Among their friends were the artist Niklāvs Strunke and his wife Olga, historian Arveds Švābe and his wife, writer Lidija Švābe, writer Arturs Kroders and the poet Fricis Forstmanis (Fricis Dziesma).

The year 2001 is the 800th anniversary of the founding of Rīga by the German bishop Albert. Latvians have mixed feelings about Albert: should he be revered for being instrumental in converting Latvia to Catholicism (including those who were already Orthodox), or should he be reviled for the brutal methods he and the men he commanded used to accomplish this? Juris Žagariņš contributes a discussion of this question that took place in the Internet group Sveiks.

Lilita Zaļkalne discusses the way World War II refugees ('displaced persons') were treated by the Allies and countries such as Sweden. At first the policy was repatriation, no matter whether the refugees wanted to return or not, but eventually the Allies realized that Eastern European refugees had no wish to return to what they had fled from, that is, Russian rule, and the policy then changed to resettlement, predominantly to North America, Britain and Australia.

Editor-in-chief Rolfs Ekmanis looks at three books that document the politics of the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1991 and its effects on Latvia and its people. Probably the worst is the huge loss of people that Latvia endured during World War II and after, about 700 000 out of its population of 2 million. This includes those who died in the war as civilians or soldiers, were deported to Russia or Germany, were victims of Nazi genocide, or who left the country as part of Hitler's German "repatriation" or fleeing from communism.

Guntis Liepiņš looks at the legacy of "Fortress Courland", the enclave within Kurzeme that remained under German control until the German capitulation in 1945. Although Latvians regard this enclave as a heroic stand (many of the soldiers under German command were Latvian) against huge odds, Liepiņš argues that too many lives were lost in defending against the Soviet invaders. Indulis Kažociņš, on the other hand, quotes from the memoirs of one of the defenders of the enclave, Valentīns Silamiķelis, that it saved hundreds of thousands from Siberia and helped to slow down the Russian advance to the west.

We include a photographic memoir of the "Barricades" in Rīga in winter 1991. The "Barricades" were the informal, spontaneous defenses that the people of Rīga and Latvia put up against an attempt to invade the Latvian parliament and to effectively return the country to Soviet control, that is, control from Moscow. As we know, the invasion failed and Latvia was able to declare its independence later in 1991.

Alberts Vēciņš contributes an article on Latvian singers who have sung at the Metropolitan Opera, Voldemārs Avens looks at recent developments and exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Nikolajs Bulmanis remembers the life and work of art photographer Juris Krieviņš (1933 - 2000).

Book reviews, in addition to the one by Indulis Kažociņš mentioned above, include Juris Silenieks' review of an avant garde novel by Jānis Einfelds titled Veči (Chaps), Vinifreds Kraučis' review of a recent history of the Baltic states published in the Czech Republic, and Biruta Sūrmane's review of Oļģerts Grāvītis' short biography of the composers Emīls and Volfgangs Dārziņš. Ildze Kronta reviews a major event in Latvian literature, Roald Dobrovensky's fictional biography of Jānis Rainis, Rainis and His Brothers, which was originally written in Russian but first published by Karogs in Latvian in 1999. Dobrovensky is Russian but is married to the Latvian poet Velta Kaltiņa and lives in Latvia. The "brothers" of the title refers to Rainis' fellow Latvian socialists.

Poetry in this issue is by Sarma Muižniece and Juris Zommers. Both grew up in North America, but identify deeply with Latvia. Pāvils Vasariņš contributes an obituary of the linguist and teacher Valerija Baltiņa-Bērziņa (1906 - 2000) and Pāvils Cakuls lists the many achievements of Valters Nollendorfs, winner of the Jānis Bieriņš Prize for 2001. Mirdza Čuibe contributes a poignant story about a dog and its human family.

The cover of this issue is by Ilmārs Blumbergs and the frontispiece is by Gerda Roze. A photograph by Juris Krieviņš is on page 18, and a photograph of a sculpture by Aivars Žukovskis is on page 15.

Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita