14 November, 2017
"My grandparents were migratory birds against their own will, who never stopped loving Latvia, and never managed to acclimatize in America" – Rita Laima Berzina (born Rumpetere) tells about her grandparents – Augusts Rumpeters, Senator of the Senate of Latvia, and philologists specialized in Baltic languages Janis and Livija Bicoli.
Her parents – artist Ilmars Rumpeters and litterateur Baiba Bicole – were children of exile, and Rita Laima thinks the same way of herself. She was born and raised and studied design art in America, she has always embodied mentality of dual life of exile.
For seventeen years – from 1982 to 1999 – Rita Laima had been living in Latvia. Rita Laima (Rita Laima Berzina in her full name, also known as Rita Laima Krievina), in her book “Skylarks and Rebels” tells about her observations and reflections, while living and working in Latvia, educating and raising here her two sons, experiencing National Awakening and restoration of the independence of Latvia. The book has explanatory text alongside the title: memoirs on the Soviet occupation, life in totalitarian regime and the freedom. The book is written in English, so that, as the author herself says, “to step aside from Latvia” in order to make the recording of memoirs as objective as possible.
In November, Rita Laima came to Latvia from America and opened her book at the National Library with the support of the US Embassy. She is visiting 15 libraries in Latvia to tell about the book, her experience and her family, and through it – the history of the Latvian exiles. She also visited the Supreme Court Museum and gave one copy of her book as a present to the Court, which continues her grandfather's work.
Life story of Senator Augusts Rumpeters is painful – the Soviet regime split his family. In 1944, Senator went on exile with two eldest sons. Wife Emma at that time was in the countryside in Vidzeme with two younger sons and stayed in Latvia. At that time everyone thought that such a situation would last for a short time, but it turned out that it lasted – for life.
Signature of Augusts Rumpeters is on the Latvian Central Council's Memorandum of 1944 on the restoration of the actual sovereignty of the Republic of Latvia. In 1948, he together with other senators in exile prepared an opinion on the validity of the Satversme (Constitution of Latvia) after the occupation of the Republic of Latvia. He was an active protector of Latvia's interests in exile, published a wide overview of the Soviet aggression in the Baltic States, as well as a review on the Senate of Latvia in 1918-1940.
The Supreme Court is the continuator of the work and traditions of the Senate of Latvia and keeps testimonies on the history of the Senate of Latvia in its museum. While preparing for the centennial of the Senate of Latvia, the memories of senators' successors are documented, as well as opinions of legal historians and judges on the contribution of senators to strengthening the legal system of Latvia are examined.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211