The following list of books about the peoples and the history of the Baltic States may be of interest to fellow researchers. Additional information is available on the Internet. The second half of the list will be in the next post.
A brief annotation follows:
A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile by Agate Nesaule. This award winning book is a tribute to the children who survived the invasion of Latvia in WWII and against all odds arrived in the United States and became a distinguished English professor in at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. Also of interest is her commencement speech at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater on u-tube. Her inspiring message to college graduates is that in spite of economic uncertainty, each graduate can make a difference by contributing one’s personal strengths to the world.
Uprooted from Lithuania (Memoirs Living History: World War II Madness) by Hildegard Muttersbach Gamlin. This memoir focuses on one family from Vilkaviskis who ultimately free Lithuanian in 1944 as the Soviet army approached. As a result of this flight, the scattered was scattered to Poland, to Germany, and to Canada, and some even back to Soviet Lithuania. This dispersal led to lifetime ramifications as they struggled individually and as a family to regain their sense of self and establish their lives again.
Abandoned and Forgotten: An Orphan Girls Tale of Survival During World War II by Evelyne Tannehill.
(Recommended by my fellow researcher AS.) Even though the setting is East Prussia rather than one of the Baltic States, the story is the same or similar enough to help the reader understand the plight of thousands of people totally uprooted by the German and Soviet armies as they fought for control of this area in 1944-45. Whether it was the desolation of losing their East Prussian farm, the domination of the German Army, the Poles, or the Russians, the family suffered as they witnessed atrocities. Not all survived, but Evelyne did, with the help of aunts, until she reached the United States in 1951.
Between the Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Not to be confused with a popular book of a similar title, this book published in March 2011, preceded the publishing of the more well-known book. After interviewing as many survivors of Stalin’s deportation of thousands of Lithuanians to Siberia in the 1940s, Sepetys wove their stories into the memorable novel. If you have ever wondered what happened in Lithuania after World War II or after your ancestors emigrated, this book will refresh your understanding of Lithuania’s painful history and help you understand the aftermath of Soviet oppression and the incredible will to survive the gulags. In July 2013 we heard that a movie was to be made from this story, but any other details were unknown. Originally written as a young adult novel, it appeals to readers of all ages.
Leave Your Tears for Moscow by Barbara Armonas. This is a true account of a Lithuanian woman married to an American citizen who returned to Lithuania just prior to WWII. She and her son were detained by the Russians after the war in June 1948 for 20-years in Soviet concentration camps-known as the GULAG. Through her resourcefulness and help from her husband in America she survived, eventually was reunited with her family, and published her story so that those who never survived would be remembered.