Leaving Latvia

From 1944 to 1945, the approaching Soviet Army forced many Latvians to find escape routes to other countries. According to one source, about 250,000 people became refugees. Many got stuck in Courland, and some 50-60,000 were murdered by Soviet troops in Poland and Germany. After the war, approximately 6000 Latvians found refuge in Sweden, 120,00 in West Germany, 3000 in Austria and 2000 in Denmark. In later years, Latvian emigration spread to the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries. Some succumbed to forced repatriation by the Soviets; most expected to voluntarily return once Latvia was free, though that rarely occurred.

3 thoughts on “Leaving Latvia”

  1. Ilse, Thanks for posting the video of refugees leaving Latvia. I liked your comments about the reverent way ‘Put Vejini” is sung- that it was a substitute to express nationalistic sentiment in times when the national anthem could not be sung. I heard the melody adapted with English lyrics and sung as a hymn quite by chance a good number of years ago. While visiting Charleston, SC, I wandered into an Evensong Service. I was shocked to hear the melody and then looked at the program and it acknowledged the source of the score as “Latvian Folk Song” . As for substitute songs, I have heard it said on Latvian tv that many Latvians living through those times regarded Raimond Pauls “Mana Dzimtene” as an alternative “national anthem”.

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