Ceremonies were held across Latvia March 25 in memory of the thousands of people deported to Siberia by occupying Soviet forces on this day in 1949, eng.lsm.lv reports.
42,000 Latvians were hauled off in cattle trucks 70 years ago and the date is now designated as Communist Genocide Memorial Day, with flowers laid at many of the rail stations and yards used for the deportations. Similar atrocities against the local populations were also committed in Estonia and Lithuania, where commemorations are also due to take place.
Two major waves of mass deportations were carried out in Latvia: during the first Soviet occupation in 1941, and then again in 1949, during the second occupation, though smaller-scale deportations to the Gulag took place at other times as well.
As well as being crimes against humanity, the deportations deprived Latvia of many of its most capable citizens, and created shortages in the labor force, which were made up by immigrants from other parts of the Soviet Union as part of a wider program of Russification.
The deportations also created an entire generation of Latvians born in Siberia, who today are known as the 'Children of Siberia'.
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