Second book continues Latvian deportee’s story in Soviet army

Ilmārs Šalts is a survivor of Siberia and of a battalion of young men assigned to work in Soviet labor camps. He told part of his story in the book, A Stolen Childhood: Five Winters in Siberia, and now, in ‘Careerists’: Quarry Duty in the Soviet Army, which was released in November.

Both books previously appeared in Latvian. The first, Nolaupītā bērnība, was published in Rīga in 2001, followed by Karjeristi in 2004.

Šalts’s story begins in 1941, when his family was deported to Siberia. His parents and a grandmother died there. Šalts and his brother and sister returned to occupied Latvia in 1946. Taken in by his motherš cousins, Šalts had only five and half years to finish his studies. When he turned 21, he was drafted into the Soviet army and assigned to a battalion of “stepchildren” to work in the rock quarries of Russia’s Rostov province.

Šalts, now a retired electrical engineer, regained ownership of his family’s home in 1996, according to the self-publishing company AuthorHouse.

A brief review of the Latvian version of the book was published in 2004 by the daily newspaper Latvijas Vēstnesis.

‘Careerists’ was translated by Gunna Dickson, a New York-based writer and editor. She also translated A Stolen Childhood and Lilija Zariņa’s The Red Fog: A Memoir of Life in the Soviet Union, published in 2006.


Ilmārs Šalts’s story continues in ‘Careerists’: Quarry Duty in the Soviet Army, published in November.

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Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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