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Presentation of the book "Shalom, Siberia!" by Dzintra Geka
15 September, 2020

Presentation of the book "Shalom, Siberia!" by Dzintra Geka

The Children of Siberia Foundation and the Uniting History Foundation in cooperation with the

Jews in Latvia Museum in Riga held a solemn presentation of the book “Shalom, Siberia!” by

Dzintra Geka on Tuesday, the 15 th of September. The event took place at the Jewish Community.

In June 1941, thousands of residents were deported from Latvia to Siberia. Among them were

1789 Jews – children, adults, and elderly people. In many families, children were born already in

Siberian settlements. The book “Shalom, Siberia!” is dedicated to the personal stories of people

who survived these terrifying and difficult events. Over the years, the author of the book has

recorded dozens of interviews, and the result of this immense work has been materialised in the

form of a collection of memoirs “Shalom, Siberia!”. All interviews in the book are published in

three languages: Latvian, Russian and English.

The presentation was opened with a welcoming speech by Ilya Lensky, the director of the Jews

in Latvia Museum. Dzintra Geka told the guests how the idea of creating such a book was born

and about the fate of the people she met in the process of creating this collection of memoirs.

Elina Sklar, the executive director of the Uniting History Foundation, told that the Foundation

considers it important to support the publication of materials about the fate of Latvian residents

of different nationalities since knowledge of common history will help in forming a tolerant

modern society. The presentation was supplemented with personal stories of the book’s heroes.

Rafail Rosenthal, one of the authors of the memoirs included in the book, was the guest of the

event. He told about the fate of his family, which was forced to endure deportation and the

experience of Siberian settlements.

Fragments from the book were read by the pupils of the Riga Jewish Secondary School – this is

how the written text found its voice. Yakov Shatz shared his memories about the deportation to

Siberia. These personal stories become fragments of the common history of the country, and

private destinies paint a general picture of the life of the people in the 20 th century.

The presentation was complemented by a musical performance - the famous Israeli composer

Don Jaffe was among the guests of honour, and he thanked all those present. His cello sonata

Shoah was performed by the Riga virtuoso cellist Mark Vilensky. In addition to the musical

illustration, guests of the event were offered to watch fragments from two films – Remember

Siberia (2010) and Where did Our Fathers Remain (2014). These are documentaries filmed by

Dzintra Geka based on materials from her Siberian expeditions and research on the topic of

deportation.

The publication of the book “Shalom, Siberia!” became an important cultural event. But this is also

a significant event for the preservation of the historical memory of the residents of Latvia.