Oskars Gruziņš member of the European Union’s Marie Curie Initial Training Network, “Children born of war – past, present and future project,” from University of Latvia, has went on a second fact finding mission in Riga with the prominent Latvian oral historian Andrejs Feldmanis to learn more about the process of collecting oral history testimonies in Latvia.
Andrejs Feldmanis, who has worked as a video-director, video-cameraman, the manager of the Audio-Visual Collections of the Occupation Museum of Latvia and has helped collect up to 1500 video testimonies in his career, took Oskars with him to interview a 91-year-old who was deported on June of 1941. Oskars learned about the process of interviewing and was able to participate in collecting the autobiographical life testimony recording.
The process which took nearly 7 hours, covered the subject’s life story, from the fate of his family when deported to his return to Latvia in 1977. Their 91-year-old subject recalled for them the story of his deportation, the years he spent in Soviet forced settlements and collective farms, his work fishing in the harshest environment of the Russian wilderness, his eventual carrier in the Russian tundra and his return to Latvia after more than 30 years of exile. An enthusiastic artist, he sat at the window of the cattle car used in his deportation and drew the scenes of his family’s deportation in vivid detail; the collection of his original drawings are now displayed in Tukums Museum. The map, displayed behind the subject in the photograph of him showing his school picture, maps his excruciating and hardly-believable travels in the Russian wilderness. By being there to collect the testimony and documental evidence of this subject’s life, Oskars gained valuable first-hand knowledge of the interview process which he hopes to utilize in his own study.
Oskars study will focus on children born of Third Rich and Soviet soldiers in Latvia. The project is part of the European Union Marie Curie Initial Training Network, “Children born of war – past, present and future project.” This project is a Horizon 2020 plan which is composed of 15 early stage researchers, 11 organizations, 12 partner organizations, with an aim at “understanding the challenges of CBOW in volatile societies [that] will inform the normative debates and, ultimately, policies on the reintegration of CBOW into post-conflict societies.”