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Marija Leiko
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    (August 14, 1887-February 3, 1938)
    Born in Riga, Latvia
    Performed with Max Reinhardt's theater company in Berlin (1917-20)
    Appeared in the films 'Kain' (1918), 'Lola Montez (1919), 'Satan' (1920), 'Fear of Women' (1921), 'The Rats' (1921), 'The Treasure of Gesine Jacobsen' (1923) and 'The Green Alley' (1928)
    She and her lover fled Latvia for Austria when he was suspected of being involved in the murder of a policeman (1908).
    She left films with the arrival of talkies.
    Few of her silent films have survived.
    When her daughter Nora died in childbirth, she traveled to Soviet Georgia to pick up her granddaughter to raise (1935).
    During a stopover in Moscow on the return trip, she accepted an invitation to join the Latvian State Theatre.
    In a xenophobic purge, Stalin had almost the entire theater company, including Leiko, arrested on charges of belonging to 'a counter-revolutionary nationalist group' in league with fascists (December 15, 1937).
    After a ten-minute trial, she was shot, then buried in a mass grave at the NKVD killing fields outside Moscow.

Credit: C. Fishel

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