Oskars Gruziņš (an early stage researcher (ESR) of CHIBOW (Children Born of War – Past, Present and Future), recently traveled to Lestene and Kuldīga with prominent Latvian oral historian Andrejs Feldmanis to learn more about the process of collecting oral history testimonies in Latvia. Andrejs has worked extensively as a director, cameraman, and manager of the Audio-Visual Collections of the Occupation Museum of Latvia, and helped collect up to 1,500 video testimonies during his career.
Andrejs and Oskars traveled to the Kurzeme region of Latvia. At the Lesten Cemetery of the Brethren where they filmed the ceremonial reburial of the remains of 236 Latvian Legionnaires brought home from Russia. Oskars helped during the process of identifying the relatives of these soldiers, and learned about the subtleties of creating a rapport with possible interviewees for future recordings of oral testimony.
The following day they visited the home of a former Legionnaire in the city of Kuldīga, where Oskars assisted during the 10-and-a-half-hour long interview process. Their 90-year-old interviewee told them his life story, going into detail about the war years in Latvia, his experience in the Latvian Legion, his time spent after the war in a Soviet filtration camp, and his life during the long period of Soviet occupation. By being a part of the process of ollecting such testimony and documentary evidence Oskars has gained valuable insight and first-hand experience of the interview process, which he feels will certainly assist him during his own research.
Oskars’ research within CHIBOW will focus on children born of The Third Reich and Soviet soldiers in Latvia. CHIBOW is a European Union funded H2020 Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN). It aims to understand the challenges of Children Born of War in volatile societies, and conduct research that will inform the normative debates and, ultimately, policies on the reintegration of CHIBOW into post-conflict societies.