Posts Tagged ‘John Plume’

Insula – A Latvian Memoir

February 5, 2011

Insula – A Latvian Memoir

As a young boy growing up in St. Joseph, Michigan,  I knew some of the kids that had immigrated to my town from war-torn Germany and that region. I never fully appreciated what they had suffered and survived until later in my life.  I have come to greatly admire these individuals, and so many like them, who lost so much and had to flee their homelands in search of  a better life.  Nearly all of these boys and girls that I knew quickly learned English, did very well in school, conducted themselves honorably and became model citizens of America.

This was a time in America when immigration was done by the rule of law. It was also a time when citizens, churches, schools, and communities volunteered to assist the new immigrants to become more fully  acculturated Americans. This coordinated approach worked very well and its proud legacy has been a marvelous benefit to all concerned.

John Plume was one of these immigrants.  He graduated from our high school in 1960 and went on to  live a vigorous and productive life ever since.

I hope you will read the following and visit John’s historical projects at:

The following is a quote from John’s Webpage.

Insula – A Latvian Memoir

 Insula: A Latvian Memoir contains stories of people who fled from the Soviet regime during World War II. It tells of their flight and survival during the war and their life as refugees in a Displaced Persons Assembly Center “Insula,” near Berchtesgaden, Germany, between 1945 and 1949.

In 1944, thousands of Latvians fled their Soviet-occupied homeland and the brutalities of World War II. They sacrificed their careers, homes, and possessions in order to seek freedom.

After the war in 1945, there were more than 100,000 Latvians among the millions of refugees in Germany living in 300 refugee camps established by UNRRA and later managed by IRO in the American and occupations zones.

More than two dozen authors tell their emotional experiences of leaving home, facing the dangers of wartime travel, living conditions in Nazi Germany, and survival of Allied aerial bombardments. 

There are hundreds of photographs showing the crowded living conditions in a refugee camp. Regardless of the uncertain future, these refugees did not fall into despair but showed determination to survival by organizing self-governance, establishing basic services of food distribution, utilities, security, education and cultural activities.

Best Wishes to John Plume and for his work!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

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