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The effect of the exhibition “Childhood in captivity”: German association «Kontakte-Контакты» provided compensation to inhabitants of burned villages living in Verhnedvinsk region, Belarus.

German association «Kontakte-Контакты» decided to provide payment of compensation to inhabitants of burned villages, victims of Nazi punitive operations of 1943-1944, residing nowadays in Verhnedvinsk region in Belarus. Total amount of compensations is 27,000 €. It was distributed between 90 people, who previously were living in villages burned by Nazi.

“Moral and material support of all victims of Nazi’s terror is one of the main goals of our association, - says the official web-site of «Kontakte-Контакты», - We focused on the groups of Nazi terror's victims left without any compensation or any apologies from German government. Usually they don’t mention them during official meetings. The exhibition “Childhood in captivity” and the round table in Moscow in January 2012 were an occasion to discuss the possibility to pay compensation to inhabitants of burned villages in Belarus. The list of 90 names was composed in result. All of them live in Verhnedvinsk (Vitebsk oblast): one of the most damaged regions of Belarus. International Public Organization “Understanding” is our partner in this project”.

“The activity of «Kontakte-Контакты» is undoubtedly worthy of respect as it leads to reconciliation between people, - says Alexander Dyukov, “Historical memory” Foundation’s director, - We are very glad that our exhibition “Childhood in captivity” drew an attention to such unknown group of Nazi terror’s victims as people from burned villages, especially children. Financial support from Germany, other considerations apart, is a manifestation of sympathy and care of German people. And it’s more precious that money”.

“Thereupon the reaction on our exhibition of Latvian government makes a big difference with the German’s one, - A. Dyukov continues, - The punitive operations in Verhnedvinsk region were made by German Nazi and Latvian collaborators. In Germany they understand the responsibility for this tragic past and they don’t turn away from the Nazi’s victims. In contrast with this position Latvian powers are preoccupied with concealing Latvian collaborators’ crimes and the tragedy of their victims. That is an evidential difference between modern Europeen democratic country and the practice typical for ethnocratic societies.”

It should be reminded that in January – February of 2012 the exhibition was held in The State central museum of contemporary history of Russia.
The exhibition is prepared by “Historical memory” Foundation within the framework of the common program of the Belorussian Peace Foundation and the German Fund “Memory, Responsibility and Future” - “Raisin the status of the former inhabitants of burned Belorussian villages”. Its goal is to attract attention of society and researchers to unknown victims of the punitive operations on border territories of Russia, Belorussia and Latvia in 1943-1944. The aim of those actions was the belt of “scorched earth”: villages were burned; people were executed or taken away as forced labors in Latvia or Germany. Due to these operations thousands of minor children, -Russian, Belorussian, Polish, - were deported in Latvia. They were separated with their parents and remained in extremely heavy conditions in concentration camp Salaspils. Then they were working for Latvian farmers. The exhibition “Childhood in captivity” is made in memory of those victims, died in this tragedy, as well as of those who stayed alive.

The exhibition is a result of deep research work of members of “Historical memory” Foundation: collection of eyewitness’ testimonies in Russia, Latvia, Belarus, new pictures and archive documents retrieval. This work was made in collaboration with historians from Russia, Belarus and Latvia. Thus the tentative of revision and reconsideration of tragic pages of our common past was undertaken. That means that the way for future joint researches in this direction has been paved.

The exhibition was taken in a very strange manner by Latvian govetnment. Thus in the beginning of March of 2012 Latvian Foreign Ministry declared Alexander Dyukov and Vladimir Simindiei, research programme manager in “Historical memory” Foundation personae non gratae not only in Latvia, but throughout the Schengen Area as a whole.

Despite that fact Alexander Dyukov was intended to install the exhibition in Latvia. As arranged previously, the exhibition supposed to be held in “The House of Moscow” in Riga. Its opening should be accompanied by the roundtable with participation of historians from Russia, Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Belorussia and France.

Once information was published, Latvian powers launched the process of intimidation of Foundation’s partners. Thus Yuriy Silov, the director of in “The House of Moscow” was invited in the Latvian Foreign Ministry. There he has got a categorical request not to accept the exhibition “Childhood in captivity” in “The House of Moscow”. Otherwise he was promised to have serious troubles. “Historical memory” Foundation was informed that, in order to throw obstacles in its way, Latvian power institutions have menaced with “grave troubles” some non-governmental organizations, including those working in the field of historical and cultural researches.

In view of problems our Latvian colleagues may have, “Historical memory” Foundation decided to suspend the opening of the exhibition “Childhood in captivity”. Nevertheless the Foundation declares that it will be held in Latvia in the near time.

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