I love browsing through my grandmother's photo albums, especially, searching for visual glimpses of her life before or during World War II, before and during the Soviet, then Nazi and then again Soviet regime. There are not many photos to find.. First of all, they were a simple farming family who did not have many…Read more Communicative memory through three or four generations of family
This museum - the former KGB headquarters in Rīga - is not for the disinterested or the deeply traumatized by Latvia's totalitarian past. In the first group, you quickly realize that this is a very somber space. Every room has soaked up fears, tears and witnessed intimidation, humiliation, broken lives and tortured consciences... For the…Read more Ask Latvians about the Corner House and take time to listen
The usual parade of special dates. May 1, May 4, May 8, May 9... The weather exceptionally beautiful and 'woe is me' for having to study and sit in lectures. Not that I care much about official events but glad to participate in smaller grassroots initiatives to give these days a personal meaning. Every year…Read more Why bother crossing this particular bridge on May 9
Thursday, November 30, in Riga was cold, wet and windy. In the evening my friend Bella and I went to the Freedom Monument to help light the candles and prepare the space for a special Holocaust memorial. The official start was to be an hour later and the volunteers were busy getting things organized. I…Read more Am I my brother’s keeper?
This is a common and valid question. When do the wounds, losses and memories from time ago truly become things of the past? When does it heal and hurt no more? When does dwelling on the past become harmful and we get stuck in it? Increasingly many people in my global circle of friends are…Read more Helpful or harmful to talk about painful national past?
I want to talk about Ukraine in a very personal way and this story starts in Thailand... of all places. My former home in Chiang Mai was in a small and quiet neighborhood close to Chiang Mai University. There were not many foreigners living there. So, when a foreign family moved in, everyone took notice.…Read more It could be me, it could be you…
It turns out I have a few things in common with Angelina Jolie. She is in Cambodia and I am, too. She was in Battambang and I was there, too. She was shopping at the Night Market in Siem Reap and I was, too. She is researching the Khmer Rouge regime and the genocide of…Read more Why is Angelina Jolie causing a traffic jam in Battambang?
My current ‘office’ is a nice coffee shop in Riga where I enjoy the warmth and tasty treats. The days are getting shorter and the evenings darker. The air is much colder, too. Is it just me or the autumn is a perfect time for reflections? As promised in my last post about Nobel Peace…Read more Lessons from Ukraine: peacemaking can be counterintuitive
So many reflections after my recent trip to Hannover, Germany. I had the most unusual tour of the city. It told a story of significant past, diverse community, powerful kings and fascinating facts, but also tragedy, violence and beauty from the ashes. In the literal sense. In just one night of October 8, 1943, more…Read more Hannover and Hiroshima and the church without roof