Dr Lilita Zalkalns

Email: lilita.zalkalns@balt.su.se
Phone: 08-16 46 09
Address: Universitetsvägen 10E, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden


Back to the Motherland. Repatriation and Latvian Émigrés 1955-1958PhD project: The purpose of this study is to investigate the second Soviet repatriation campaign whose target was the western diasporas from countries dominated by the Soviet Union. The focus will be on the East Berlin-based “Committee for Return to the Motherland” and the Latvian language repatriation newspaper Par atgriešanos Dzimtenē (For Return to the Motherland). It was published 1955-1958 and disseminated to the Latvian exiles in the West. Though the campaign targeted hundreds of thousands of émigrés from Soviet dominated territories, it is an unexplored issue of Soviet foreign policy and an underresearched topic of Cold War studies. This study will address the questions of what were the propaganda strategies of the campaign and how were they implemented to achieve desired results and outcomes among the Latvian diaspora. A special qualitative analysis is made of repatriation articles in the newspaper Par atgriešanos Dzimtenē. The articles appeared as open letters, appeals, short notices, witness statements, editorials, and as literary texts—short stories and poems. Through the examination of this body of text, certain features emerge which I have designated as the “returnee and émigré narratives”. My hypothesis is that the repatriation campaign utilizes these narratives as an overt strategy to meet its goals: to persuade émigrés to repatriate, to further the struggle against anti-Soviet propaganda and to effectuate the destruction of emigration. The narratives tell standardized life stories that were meant for émigré self-identification and emulation. The narratives were also intended for reception and appraisal by host country representatives: inhabitants, media and governments. The émigrés were meant to understand, among other things, that a good life was awaiting ordinary émigrés back in their Soviet homeland and that émigré leaders were base criminals in the pay of foreign espionage. These narratives, however, did not lead to mass repatriation to the Soviet Union. This study has shown that the study of historical Soviet Latvian propaganda is not only important for interpreting Cold War phenomena, it also forms a basis for the deeper understanding of the current political, cultural and social realities in present-day Latvia and Russia. The systematic survey of the instruments and methods of Soviet communication and propaganda used against émigré Latvians provide a usable tool for studying Russian active measures against what Russia perceives to be its adversaries today and possibly tomorrow. On a broader scale, this study is also relevant to general émigré studies. It explores how a totalitarian state built up official relations to its exile population, and touches upon issues of how émigré individual and group indentity, the meaning of language and culture in establishing and building up long-term contacts with émigrés, and similar issues.

Last updated on 2017-16-06 at 11:15

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