Fearing the Memory of Father: The Impact of Biological Origins on the Life Course of Latvian ‘Third Reich’ Children Born of War

https://doi.org/10.22364/ms22.05 | pp. 45-52 | PDF

Oskars Gruziņš
University of Latvia

Abstract. Based on an extensive review of scholarly works on WWII Children Born of War (CBOW) in Western Europe, in contrast to a content analysis of the interviews of 38 Latvian CBOW subjects, this proceeding argues that the primary stimulus driving the hiding and augmenting of CBOW memories in post-war Soviet-occupied Latvia differed from that in the West. It argues that, while there existed a fear of social reprisals in the West, a fear primarily focused on social discrimination and its impact on the well-being of CBOW and their families. In contrast, in Soviet-occupied Latvia there existed a mortal fear of institutional repressions, a fear primarily focused on individual and family survival. Moreover, utilizing examples and statements from said Latvian WWII CBOW subjects, as well as from academic literature on the Soviet Union and Soviet-occupied Latvia, this proceeding illustrates how a societal fear, and the resulting ‘silence,’ permeated all of society. Thus, this proceeding identifies that the practice of hiding and augmenting memoires for fear of the Soviet regime was widespread in post-war Latvia, that Third Reich (TR) CBOW were just one cohort group trying to hide their past from the Soviet regime and that the resulting atmosphere of societal ‘silence’ may have been conducive to these ends. Finally, after having illustrated the fear which existed in society and among such CBOW, this proceeding shows how that fear in many cases came to dictate the life course of TR CBOW in Latvia.

Keywords: Children Born of War, fear, Latvia, memory, repressions, Soviet Union, totalitarianism

In: Media and Society, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Mediji un sabiedrība, 2022. Rakstu krājums. Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 173 p.