The Course of Life of Those Deported on 14 June 1941 Until Their Release from Forced Settlement. Examples of Disinformation, Misleading Information | pp. 86-97 | PDF

Lelde Neimane
University of Latvia, Museum of the Occupation of Latvia 

Abstract. Totalitarian state regimes use disinformation and misleading information in the form of propaganda to influence, control and reduce the possibility of critical thinking in their citizens. It still continues in several countries around the world. In order to facilitate recognising disinformation, to understand its manipulation methods, to promote critical thinking in a democratic environment, it has been valuable to analyse the country’s own lived experience through the prism of its inhabitants. The article reflects examples of the experience of the population displaced from Latvia during the mass deportation carried out by the Soviet totalitarian regime on 14 June 1941, from the moment when the echelons full of deported people crossed the border of Latvia and arrived at the deportation camps, until liberation, the opportunities for return and life in Latvia after the experience of deportation. Oral history, represented by interviews in video format from the video testimony collection of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia are the basic historical sources of the current study, predominantly focusing on the memories of people who were adults at the time of deportation. Several accounts of the memories are compared with the documents in the criminal case files of the deportees stored in the State Archives of Latvia. In the article, the insights into the main findings are grouped into eight key points of the historical context: 1) the beginning of the German-USSR war; 2) information obtained at the site of displacement (deportee status, information about the men); 3) the end of the German-USSR war; 4) communication with relatives, friends in Latvia; 5) efforts to return to Latvia in 1946–1948 (illegally/legally); 6) deportation of 25 March 1949 (informed/uninformed); 7) Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953; 8) discharge in 1956–1957 and return to Latvia. Through examples, the article, reveals the disinformation of the Soviet regime in the form of silence, not responding to people’s questions, absence of any explanation either regarding the status of the displaced person, or any aspects of rights. Replies to written submissions to the state authorities of the USSR were rejected without explanation. At times, the repressive regime also used partial disclosure of information, for instance, regarding relatives who were shot and killed in imprisonment. Not only the very harsh physical conditions in the detention made the deportation inhumane, but the victims were also morally destroyed by this reigning ignorance, fear about their status, loved ones and fate.

Keywords: deportation, disinformation, information, deception, oral history, concealment, video testimony

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