Families in Eastern Europe

ISBN: 978-0-76231-116-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-279-5

ISSN: 1530-3535

Publication date: 30 December 2004


Latvia is situated on the Eastern Coast of the Baltic Sea – on the shipping route between North-West Europe and Russia. Because of its location, this territory has been conquered and re-divided by crusaders from Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Russia. As a result of repeated wars, Latvians were enslaved for seven centuries and partly mixed with warrior populations. Only after World War I in 1918 was the independent state of Latvia established. Its peaceful development was interrupted by the beginning of World War II. On the basis of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Stalin and Hitler, Latvia was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union. The country suffered enormous population losses. During the first year of Soviet rule, the subsequent years of Nazi occupation, military pursuits, people seeking refuge in the West (around 200,000), and the Stalinist repressions and deportations to Siberia, Latvia’s net loss in population amounted to 30% of the prewar population. It is doubtful whether any other nation, except for the Jews, ever suffered such enormous population losses as a consequence of World War II. Only a third of them returned to Latvia after 10–15 years’ exile in Siberia.


Eglite, P. (2004), "MARRIAGE AND FAMILIES IN LATVIA", Robila, M. (Ed.) Families in Eastern Europe (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 225-236.

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