On 21 May, Latvian Embassy in Denmark hosted a memory evening “Entering the Unknown”. At the event, four ladies - Līvija Klāns-Kovaļevskis, Inta Briedis, Virgīnija Kazeks and Ileana Larsen - shared their memories about the arrival of Latvian refugees to Denmark during World War II.
Many historical sources have covered the daily life in refugee camps as well as the difficulties when encountering a foreign language and culture. However, these stories have a rather different value when they are heard from direct witnesses. Each of the ladies participating in the event shared a different story about their arrival to Denmark: Virginija Kazeks came to Denmark in 1944 as a 17-year-old girl, unlike Inta Briedis who does not remember her arrival, as she was only two years old. Ileana Larsen's family found refuge in the United States, however, she returned to Denmark where she had lived before, as her father was a chemistry teacher at a Danish university. Līvija Klāns-Kovaļevskis remembered the overpowering feeling of insecurity the refugees had on the board of the ship arriving to Denmark, as nothing was known about the direction or whereabouts of the ship at the time. During the evening, it turned out that both Virginija Kazeks and Līvija Klāns-Kovaļevskis were on the same ship when arriving to Denmark. The listeners were also informed by a number of lesser-known facts about the life of Latvian refugees in Denmark, for example, that Latvians had had their own gymnasium in Copenhagen, a vocational school and even a book publishing house. The attendees also had a chance to get acquainted with various materials (photos, books, newspapers and memorabilia) that Līvija Klāns-Kovaļevskis had collected over the years in connection with the World War II Latvian and Lithuanian refugees in Denmark. At the end of the evening, the audience thanked the ladies for participating in the event and acknowledged that such stories are very valuable and should not be forgotten. Taking into account the interest of the Latvian diaspora, the Embassy will continue to organize similar events to explore the life stories of Latvians in Denmark.