Irena Saulutė Valaityte Špakauskienė

On the night of June 13, 1941, the Soviet security forces launched a well-planned and surprise deportation of thousands of leadership people – teachers, government workers, police, newspaper and radio personnel, medical personnel, and clergy – in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.  The largest number – around 13,000 – were Lithuanians.  Irena Valaityte was an eleven-year old school girl with the soldiers broke into the farm house where they were staying, arrested her mother, father, older brother and Irena, and trucked them to the railroad yard in New Vilnia where thousands were already being readied for shipment in cattle cars to sorting camps deep in Russia.  Men in one train, women and kids in another.  Irena describes the long trip locked into the crowded car, eventual sale to a forest labor contractor, and then, a year later, being sent by train and barge to the coast of the Arctic Ocean to work harvesting fish for the Soviet Army now at war with Germany.  She details the life, the winter, the forced labor, and the death of so many – including her mother.

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