In memory of my father, Janis Kalnins, and dedicated to those transported from Riga's railway yard to Siberia in June 1941.
As a child, I grew up listening to many war stories and accounts of cruelty, degradation and injustice inflicted on innocent citizens of Latvia by the Soviet Union under Stalin's regime. There is, however, one incident told by my father, Janis Kalnins, that stands out in my mind.
The incident happened in Riga's railway yard in June 1941, where at that time my father was working. On this particular hot summer day, long lines of transport wagons, filled to capacity with unfortunate, condemned women, children and old people, were standing next to a platform. Their final destination would be the various concentration camps in Siberia. The men, the heads of families, had by then been separated from their families, some shot.
My father, hearing cries for help and seeing outstretched arms begging for water, filled a pail and was carrying it along the platform when a soldier saw him. The soldier, with his heavy army boots, kicked the pail to the ground. I can only imagine the despair and hopelessness in people's hearts, the cruelty of it all, as they watched the cool water run free along the platform.