A ground-breaking online virtual museum – “Esi Pats” (Be Yourself) - opened a brand new website, telling the stories of child deportees to Siberia via video, audio and other mediums. The online exhibition itself will be available in five languages - Latvian, English, Russian, French and German – although only the English and Latvian versions are fully operational at this moment.
On December 12, the day the website was launched, Historian Elīna Kalniņa, who was the main driving force behind this project, admitted that she was "deeply satisfied" to have the English-language site up and running. She estimates that the exhibition will be available in the rest of the languages sometime during the first half of 2016.
Among the attendees of the event was Andris Eglītis, who himself was deported to Siberia when just five years old. He is one of the people whose memories can now be found in the exhibition. When addressing the audience, he stressed the importance of remembering those who made it back and those who didn't. "I urge everyone to visit the memorial to the child deportees outside Riga castle and perhaps leave a candle or a flower," he said.
The museum is inspired by the life and works of Melānija Vanaga, who herself was deported to Siberia by the Soviets and recalled her often harrowing experiences in a series of books notable for their literary as well as historical value. To explore the exhibition and learn the incredible stories of resilience and survival, visit the museum's website.