Alma Valintėlienė was born near Vilnius in 1936. Her father, from a family considered as "kulaks", was arrested on 15 June 1941 as a "traitor to the nation". Alma and her mother were separated from him, and taken to Novosibirsk, then took boats on the Ob and Parbig rivers to the village of Krylovka and finally to the village of Sobolinka, where they arrived on 15 July 1941.
In 1942, Alma's mother gave birth to a son, and the family moved to Krylovka. She received a letter from an acquaintance of her husband's, informing her that he had died. In 1947, Alma and her brother returned to Lithuania. They lived with their grandparents, and helped them farm the land. Alma started school.
After just over five years in Lithuania, Alma's mother wrote from Siberia, advising her to return as soon as possible to avoid being arrested in Lithuania, deported again, and potentially imprisoned. Alma, 17, returned to Krylovka in 1953, shortly after Stalin's death. There she was reunited with her mother, who had since remarried. Alma finished school and obtained permission to train as a teacher in Kolpashevo.
After graduating, Alma Valintėlienė returned to Lithuania, where she taught Russian for 45 years. Her mother joined her there in 1967, along with her husband and children. In the 1990s, after the opening of the archives concerning "traitors to the nation", Alma Valintėlienė tried to retrace the last months of her father's life. According to official sources, he died of pneumonia on 30 November 1941.
At the time of the interview, Alma Valintėlienė was still living in Lithuania, north of Vilnius.
The interview with Alma Valinteliene was conducted in 2010 by Marta Craveri.
Her father's arrest - To flee or not to flee (Original in Russian)
In this excerpt, Alma Valintėlienė talks about her father's arrest on 15 June 1941. She explains that her father had decided not to try to escape, despite the location of their house, on the edge of the forest, which was a convenient place for escaping.
Her father's arrest - The family is separated (Original in Russian)
Alma Valintėlienė discusses their separation from her father at the train station. She and her mother were deported to Siberia.
Her father's arrest - The reasoning behind the arrest (Original in Russian)
Alma Valintėlienė explains that her father was arrested and she and her mother deported because they were part of the Lithuanian middle class, her father being from a family of "kulaks".
Hunger and guilt (Original in Russian)Alma Valintėlienė tells a particularly striking episode from her childhood: while her mother was at work, she couldn't resist eating a little more porridge than she was allowed. She remembers her mother's disappointment when she returned, and the guilt that has followed her ever since.
Hunger and the black market (Original in Russian)In this excerpt, Alma Valintėlienė describes her weak physical condition as a child, and the incessant hunger. She explains that potatoes were bartered on the black market for clothes, but that she and her mother had left their suitcase with Alma's father, and could not use this means to obtain food.
Lost in the taiga (Original in Russian)Alma Valintėlienė tells of an episode in the taiga where she and a group of children led by Alma Valintėlienė's landlady got lost in the taiga and only managed to find their way back at 4 a.m.
First return to Lithuania and back to Krylovka (Original in Russian)In this excerpt, Alma Valintėlienė talks about her first return to Lithuania, without her mother, in 1947, and the reunion with her grandparents. She explains that she had to return to the USSR, to Krylovka, to join her mother, because of suspicions against her in Lithuania.
A sense of belonging to the homeland (Original in Russian)Alma Valintėlienė explains that throughout her childhood she felt a sense of belonging to the Lithuanian homeland, although she had few memories of her country at that time.
Final return to Lithuania and difficulties (Original in Russian)
After training in the USSR, Alma Valintėlienė returned to Lithuania to become a Russian teacher. She explains that she felt discriminated against throughout her career.
Religion (Original in Russian)Alma Valintėlienė talks about her faith and religious holidays, which she has always kept, in Siberia and in Lithuania. She explains that after her return to Lithuania, she had to practise her faith in secret so as not to jeopardise her career.
Researching the history of her father - The NKVD archives (Original in Russian)In this excerpt, Alma Valintėlienė explains her research in the NKVD archives after the collapse of the USSR to find out more about the end of her father's life. She explains that she was particularly shocked by the speed of the accusation and arrest procedure against her father, who was denounced by a witness as a "traitor to the nation".
Researching her father's story - Her father's death (Original in Russian)Alma Valintėlienė reads a document she received in 1990 that details the final months of her father's life. She tells how her mother had received a letter from an acquaintance of her father's, saying that he had recognised his friend among the dead of the camp.
Passing on her story (Original in Russian)Alma Valintėlienė explains that she did not immediately tell her story to her daughters, who were not really interested in it. It was only after Lithuania gained independence that the stories of the deportees were considered to be of national interest and that Alma Valintėlienė's daughters began to take an interest.