Letters from Siberia Written on Birch Bark

The Tukums Museum offers a travelling exhibition, “Letters from Siberia Written on Birch Bark.” It was prepared in 2011 in three ways – Latvian/English, Latvian/French, and Latvian/Russian, and since that time it has been exhibited at more than 50 different locations in Latvia, Belgium, Estonia, the United States, Canada and Russia.
The letters were written by people who were in prison, forced labour camps or other settlements in Siberia between 1941 and 1956.  They were sent to relatives by Latvian and Lithuanian residents who had faced repressions, were arrested for anti-Soviet views or for taking part in opposition movements, or had been deported because they were farmers, belonged to political parties, or refused to join collective farms.  Among the authors are small children, adolescents, and elderly people.
The exhibition has been organised in partnership with the Latvian Occupation Museum, the Latvian National Museum of History, the Aizkraukle Museum of History and Art, the Daugava Museum, the Madona Regional Research and Art Museum, and the Talsi Administrative District Museum, all of which have birch bark letters from Siberia in their collections.  There are also exhibits from the Daugavpils Regional Research and Art Museum, the Jūrmala City Museum, the Valmiera Museum, and the Ventspils Museum.
The exhibition consists of twelve portable stands, of which ten are devoted to the authors and addressees of the birch bark letters.  The two other stands have general information about the historical and political context of the letters.
Each letter from Siberia written on birch bark is a symbolic documentation of the life story of oppressed people and a confirmation of their self-esteem and love for Latvia.
In 2009, Letters from Siberia written on birch bark were listed in the Latvian national register in the frame of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.