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Martins and Eriks VILSONS

Martins and Eriks Vilsons were born in 1954 and 1956 to Latvian deportees in Magadan oblast in the Russian Far East. Their mother, who was training to be an actress, had tried to escape from the USSR to Sweden but was probably informed on. She was imprisoned in 1947 and then deported to Omsk, Tomsk and finally Kolyma.
After her release, with no right to return home, she met the future father of her boys in Ust-Omchug. He had apparently worked for the German army in counter-espionage and then joined the Soviet army in the final months of the war. He was then arrested and deported in 1945.
After moving around the Far East, the couple, divorced but still close, took Martins and Eriks back to Latvia as soon as they were allowed to in 1957. Eriks lived with his mother’s family, his grandfather and uncle.
Martins Vilsons remembers from their life as deportees the beauty of the landscape, its untouched nature and the Sea of Okhotsk. He considers that this experience shaped the person he is today. Although Eriks only spent his first two years in Kolyma, he too still feels the weight of this history on him; being born in that distant place to deportee parents seems still to define who he is. Because of the brothers’ distant relations with their father, they only know about their parents’ story from their mother, who was reluctant to talk about it, and there are still many gaps.
Both of them are professional actors and Eriks has written a show, “My Magadan”, based on family memories, his personal impressions and a trip he made to his native region. He puts the show on in schools and is thus involved in passing on the memory of the Gulag deportees to younger generations.
Martins and Eriks Vilsons were interviewed in 2018 by Amine Laggoune and Līva Pūce

PDF (86.39 KB) See MEDIA

Why their father was deported



Eriks Vilsons explains why his father was deported.



Nature in the Magadan region

Martins Vilsons explains how he loved nature in the Magadan region.




Eriks Vilsons’s childhood memories


Their mother’s silence as told by Eriks Vilsons


The “My Magadan” show

Eriks Vilsons talks about the “My Magadan” show he wrote and put on based on his family’s story.



Martins Vilsons’s childhood memories