The little lady who fled from battle-torn Latvia spent extra than 50 years in exile – but soon after returning, she became president.
Not only that, Vaira Vike-Freiberga became the primary woman head of a former Soviet bloc nation.
“My dad and mom never allow me to neglect that I am Latvian,” she informed the BBC.
The Baltic country was invaded via Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for World War Two.
She has vibrant reminiscences of that chaotic time, especially 1944, while Russian troops – the communist Red Army – marched again into Latvia.
“I changed into impressed by those with the red flags and the fists. So at one factor, as one in all they marched by using, I raised my fist in the air and shouted ‘hurrah!’,” she says.
“At that point, I saw my mom lean towards the lamppost, virtually afflicted, with tears streaming down her cheeks, saying, ‘Please, infant, do not do this. This is a somber day for Latvia’.”
The own family’s odyssey westward took Vaira, aged seven, first to devastated Germany. Then they moved to French-ruled Morocco, then to Canada.
She did not return to Latvia until 1998, aged 60, and became president within eight months.
Vaira recalls her father paying attention to the BBC World Service in 1944, desperately looking to fathom how the battle becomes heading.
Later that year, her parents made the agonizing selection to depart Latvia.
“We took the delivery on New Year’s night of 1945. It turned into a delivery deliver with troops and with armaments, and of the route, if it gets torpedoed, it’s going to blow it up. But they’ve taken a positive range of civilians with them, who also want to escape from communism at any price. Latvians amassed at the deck and sang the Latvian anthem.”
The family reached the refugee camps being set up throughout Germany. The situation had been very harsh, and her child’s sister fell sick with pneumonia and died, just 10 months vintage.
Within a yr, Vaira’s mother gave beginning once more to a baby boy. But for Vaira, the occasion was overshadowed through every other merciless life lesson.
“A younger woman of 18 changed into lying inside the same room with my mother. She had given start to a touch lady and did not want her. She failed to need to call her infant, and they didn’t need to have anything to do with it, due to the fact the child become the result of a group rape from Russian soldiers,” she says.
“Each time the nurses introduced that poor infant to the mother, she might flip her face to the wall and cry and refuse to speak to her. The nurses gave a call to the female – Mara, which was my sister’s name.
“And I concept that turned into virtually an excessive amount of, because right here was a Mara who became born, who turned into surviving and who was sincerely no longer desired in this world. And our Mara, whom we had wanted so much, became taken from us. I realised that existence becomes honestly very ordinary and clearly very unfair.”