Address by Ambassador of Latvia to Canada, Kārlis Eihenbaums, for the upcoming memorial in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, Ottawa

09.06.2021. 18:22


June 14th is a day of sadness, it is a "Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Communist Genocide".

80 years ago, in June 1941, tens of thousands of women and men, children and seniors — from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — were forced into cattle trains at gun point in the middle of the night. They were deported to Stalin’s GULAG slave labour camps.

Thousands died along the way — from starvation, illness and mistreatment by Soviet troops. Many were executed.

A total of about one-hundred-thousand people were deported from the Baltics, occupied territories of Western Ukraine, and Western Belarus. These countries were seized by the Soviet Union under the criminal agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union: known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.

This is one of the most tragic events of our nation in the 20th century. All nationalities inhabiting Latvia suffered under these Stalinist deportations.

The Soviet authorities at the time did not explain anything. They pretended that nothing had happened. There was not one mention in the newspapers about the missing. Their relatives had nowhere to turn for information, help or defence. The world was also silent.

A few years later, in 1944, hundreds of thousands would flee this kind of terror. Many came to Canada where they found refuge, freedom and the opportunity to rebuild their shattered lives.

On the 80th anniversary of the Soviet deportations, we remember the victims of Soviet imperial colonialism. Up until this day, this is a crime that has neither been condemned, nor even acknowledged by Soviet authorities — or their heirs.

Let us all remember the victims with respect.