Claudia Heinermann: Siberian Exiles – Part 1 Lithuania
As a documentary photographer, Claudia Heinermann works on long-term projects on historical issues. Since 2016, she has been working on the trilogy Siberian Exiles, a project about the deportations from the Baltic States to Siberia under the Soviet regime.
To break the resistance against the Soviet occupation, Stalin had 600,000 civilians deported from the Baltic states to Siberia between 1940 and his death in 1953. That was a huge blow to the three countries as together they had no more than seven million inhabitants during that period. All ‘anti-Soviet elements’ and ‘the intelligentsia’ had to disappear and in Lithuania alone 150,000 men were convicted and sent to hard labour camps (Gulags). In addition, during two mass deportations a total of 132,000 people, without any kind of conviction, were sent to remote areas to do forced labour. Seventy percent of them were women and children and 30,000 of them did not survive.
This, the first part of the trilogy entitled Siberian Exiles, focuses on the experiences of six Lithuanian survivors: Irena, Nijolė, Jonas M, Vilius, Jonas P and Vaidutis, who were deported as children to the Laptev Sea above the polar circle. During the first major mass deportation in 1941, their families were sent to the Altai region in the south of Siberia to cut down trees and work as farm labourers. In 1942, they were moved, along with three thousand other Lithuanians, to the delta of the Lena River, which flows into the Laptev Sea. The Lithuanian deportees had the task of setting up a fishing industry above the polar circle. That was an absurd assignment: people were dumped without housing, protective clothing, food or technical equipment.
This book is a journey through history and has become a story about oppression, abuse of power and crimes against humanity. It is also a story about a people who refused to be broken and to give up their identity and culture. It is about the human will to survive and human resilience.
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Siberian Exiles – Part 1 Lithuania
SYB – Sybren Kuiper
5 books in a slipcase, hardcovers
each book 17 x 24 cm
225 full color photos, 167 black and white photos, 31 drawings, 6 maps
English / Lithuanian