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Compelling True Stories of Latvian Refugees
By Ventis and John Plume
Jul 2, 2014 - 1:55:45 AM

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Ventis and John Plume spent four years of their young lives in Insula, a camp for Latvian displaced persons after WWII. They have since compiled the stories of their peers into 'Insula: Island of Hope'.

Those who lived in Insula Displaced Persons Assembly Center had known a peaceful life in Latvia; however, the turmoil of war and foreign occupations changed their homeland into a dangerous place. They fled, leaving behind their homes and possessions, and they suffered the ravages of war, disease, and hunger. Insula -- Island of Hope, The Compelling True Stories of Latvian Refugees During and After World War II, edited by John and Ventis Plume, tells their stories.

"Insula" is the Latin word for island. It is a fitting name, for the Latvian refugee camp was located in the Bavarian Alps: an island of Latvians set apart from the Germans who lived there, the American soldiers occupying the land, and the other various refugees. They stayed at Insula for only four years, but, for the Latvian refugees, it became a haven. It was a secure, safe place to live after the turmoil they had endured, and it became a springboard for new lives abroad in North and South America, Australia, and even North Africa.

Ventis and John Plume spent some of the formative years of their young lives in Insula. Their tireless research gathering stories, of compiling, writing, and editing has resulted in Insula -- Island of Hope. The book also features a frank and informative foreword by Dr. Vaira Vike-Frieberga, former Latvian refugee and president of the Republic of Latvia from 1999-2007. These powerful memoirs of survival amidst the ravages or war serve as an inspiration to readers, who truly learn what it meant to Latvian refugees to have Insula, their island of hope.

Ventis Plume and John Plume, Editors

Ventis and John Plume were born in Latvia prior to WWII. In 1941, while under Soviet occupation, their father was listed for deportation to Siberia; however, he was tipped off by a friend and managed to escape arrest by going into hiding with his family. Within a few years, thousands of Baltic refugees were fleeing to Germany; the Plume family joined them in 1944. The long journey, which eventually led to life in a new land, took them for a few brief years to the camp at Insula. Sixty years later, Ventis and John Plume decided to gather the stories of all those who spent time at the refugee camp of Insula.

For more information, please visit

Magic City Editor's Note:

We have been glad to assist the authors in promoting this book. Below you will see a list of articles most of which have a photograph or two attached, about the experiences at 'Insula.'

R.P. BenDedek

Berchtesgaden Before Insula (Island of Hope)
by Andris E. Spura
December 18, 2013

From Riga we traveled by freight car to Skrunda, in Western Latvia, where my mother's friend, Regina Ginters lived (wife of Arnolds Janis Ginters, DVM). We were there only until October 11, because the front was approaching from the south and the Russians flew air raids every night. We traveled to Liepaja, at the western coast of Latvia. Just a day or so after we arrived, we were walking near the harbor at ten o'clock in the morning. Quite unexpectedly, a member of the Tautas Palidziba (Help to the People) offered us a "number" (a free ticket) for a ship that was sailing at 1:00 p.m. for Germany. Three hours later, we were on our way.

Book Title: Insula - Island of Hope
ISBN: 978-1-61863-383-5
Book Pages: 453
Price: $22.95
Ventis Plume and John Plume, Editors

Excerpts and photographs from 'Insula - Island of Hope' already published at Magic City include:

January 17, 2014 German Lutheran Diakonie's 60th anniversary celebration in Berchtesgaden

January 10, 2014 Latvian Story of 'Fleeing From The Soviets'

December 18, 2013 359 Bombers Over Berchtesgaden - Excerpt from Insula-Island of Hope

December 17, 2013 Berchtesgaden Before Insula (Island of Hope) by Andris E. Spura (at Kingscalendar)

December 10, 2013 Ernst Vahi recalls departure: Excerpt from Insula - Island of Hope

November 23, 2013 Photographs of WWII Refugee Camps (Latvian Insula)

November 17, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Men's volleyball team at Insula in 1946

November 17, 2013 Twin Sisters, Many Journeys: Excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope'

November 16, 2013 Stories of WWII Latvian Refugees (at

November 10, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Insula - Island of Hope

November 10, 2013 Insula Began in Bruckmuhl (Excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope')

November 3, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Watercolors of Insula by Leo Trinkuns (1899-1948)

November 3, 2013 Forward to Insula - Island of Hope by Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga

October 27, 2013 New Book about Latvians Displaced by World War II

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