Kasimirs Gendels was born to a multilingual family and community in Latgale, Latvia, in 1934. He was deported with his father and sister in 1949 as part of the mass deportation at the time the Latvian countryside was collectivised: his father was considered to be a kulak, and, worse still, his brother had been called up into the German army during the war.
In Siberia, he worked in a forest kolkhoz in the taiga: sawing, loading barges, etc. After making several pleas to Nikita Khrushchev, Kasimirs Gendels was released in 1955. On his return to Latvia, he did his military service and became a mechanic.
Every three or four years he went back to Siberia to see the grave of his father, who died there. After Latvia’s independence, he made one last trip to Siberia and smuggled the body back home.