Thursday, 16 August 2012

Displaced Person Camps After WWII - Photos

Edit: New information from the International Tracing Service suggests that the photos contained in this post may actually be from Barum DP Camp in approximately 1948. If you are able to confirm this or otherwise identify the location pictured, please leave a comment below and I will amend the captions.


I have been busily scanning photos and documents for the past several weeks so unfortunately I haven't been updating this site as much as I would like. On a positive note, just as I think I have nearly scanned everything, I find more documents and photos. This meaning that once I have finished scanning, I will have a heap of material to post from. In the mean time I will try and post a few bits and pieces as I scan them. Unfortunately, because I am busy scanning at the moment, I won't have much time to research and write about what I post so my intention is to update some of these posts in the future as more information comes to light.

In the mean time here are some photos from my father's collection that relate to his time as a Displaced person. As mentioned already, I haven't done much research on these photos yet so some of the captions will be a little light on information and perhaps accuracy. I believe that most if not all of these photos are of a DP camp in Hallendorf in Germany. If you can add any information about these photos feel free to comment below!




One of the Baltic DP camps that Janis CIRKSIS stayed in after WWII. "Baltic DP Camp Wohnheim 2/3" near Hallendorf



The DP camp Janis CIRKSIS was sent to after WWII. After spending a month in a POW camp Janis was accommodated in this DP camp near Hallendorf in Germany.
Presumably the living quarters for the Displaced Persons at Hallendorf.



Many of these photos show quite a bleak atmosphere that existed in the DP camps.  Janis CIRKSIS didn't really talk too much about the living conditions but I am lead to believe that obtaining enough food was difficult at times. Luckily for Latvians they received American cigarette and coffee rations which they were able to barter for the necessities of life - Germans were only able to obtain these on the black market.

The DP camp Janis CIRKSIS was sent to after the war. The Latvian flag flies in the middle
The DP camp Janis CIRKSIS stayed in after the war,  as can be seen it was in quite a state of disrepair.

I'm not sure who the boy in this photo is. I can't even say for sure if the photo is meant to be of the boy of the notice board... If you can shed any light on the identity of the person post a comment below!

Team mates stand to attention. Obviously old habits die hard for these ex-servicemen.


A relaxed team photo. I don't think Janis CIRKSIS is actually in this shot but I can't be sure.  If he is, the only person who looks remotely like him is the man standing on the extreme left
A soccer game at one of the DP camps in which Janis CIRKSIS stayed.




Playing soccer at the Displaced Persons camp where Janis CIRKSIS stayed after WWII. I don't know if any of these people are Janis CIRKSIS

Athletics at the Displaced Persons camp where Janis CIRKSIS stayed after WWII. Unknown if Janis CIRKSIS is in this photo.
Volleyball at the Displaced Persons camp. 

The base in which the flag poles sat. For some reason the poles are gone... In the background are some dilapidated buildings which appear to be living quarters.
Some of the DPs organised a play. Unfortunately I don't know the names of any of the people in this photo. I'm not sure if Janis CIRKSIS is in this picture or not. If you know any of these people post a message below.
Two actors in what appear to be quite an elaborate set all things considered.



Another photo of a play at the Latvian DP camp in Germany

Protecting the Latvian cultural heritage has always been important for Latvians, especially for the Latvian diaspora. Unfortunately, I never asked Janis what this play was called or what it was about. 

A Latvian chior in traditional dress at the Displaced Persons camp where Janis CIRKSIS stayed after WWII.
These two photos were amongst the photos of the DP camp. I can only assume that they are from the same period. If so they must have enjoyed some freedom as they appear to be on a hike...

These two photos were amongst the photos of the DP camp. I can only assume that they are from the same period. If so they must have enjoyed some freedom as they appear to be on a hike...

I'm not sure who these people are... I'm nowhere near an expert on military uniforms but I think the gentleman on the left is a British or American officer. Please post below if you have any ideas.



The YMCA established a Baltic chapter inside the DP camp where Janis CIRKSIS stayed.

While still in the DP camps in Germany, Janis CIRKSIS joined the Latvian chapter of the YMCA and became the treasurer. Janis is on the far left in this photo.

I believe that this is another photo must also be of the YMCA committee though I can't say for certain. Janis CIRKSIS is standing second from the right.



In my brief investigation I have located a couple of other relevant links pertaining to Latvian Displace Persons:

Here is an interesting link to another Latvian DP named Arvids BUSS (1909-1999). BUSS was apparently an avid photographer and took several photos of his trip from Delmenhorst DP Camp to Melbourne, Australia. BUSS' trip sounds very similar to Janis CIRKSIS' (my father's) trip to Australia - and I guess typical for most latvian DPs.

http://www.dpcamps.org/delmenhorst.html

My father also bought me a book, Life of a D.P. by Janis PURVINSKIS (2005). I am yet to read it however my father recommended it as a story that was typical of the Latvian DP experience. Now that I am actively researching these topics, I will be making a special effort to read this book. The first three chapters seem particularly relevant to anyone researching such matters. This book is available to borrow from the National Library of Australia:

http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3638104

If you have any other links to information on Latvian DPs post a comment below!



6 comments:

  1. Hi! There is a website with photos of Latvians in DP camps, unfortunately all in Latvian. www.dpalbums.lv

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  2. Thanks for the link. I had a quick look at the site and it seems to have a fairly extensive collection of photos. It is interesting to note that the activities conducted in many of these photos are similar to the ones on this page. One of the photos was particularly interesting as they group appears to be doing yoga - I would never have guessed that this was even heard of at that time in Latvia or Germany!

    I'm not sure what your relationship to the webpage is (if any) but if I were to offer one criticism it would be that it is hard to navigate through the whole collection without constantly having to press the back button.... It is obvious however that the persons involved have put in a great deal of time an effort in making these photos publicly available on the internet and that is something that I am truly grateful for.

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  3. Hello Michael,

    My father was a Ukrainian DP and at a camp at Hallendorf around late 1945 to 1947. He came to England in 1947. I have some photos from this camp. Fortunately he marked the backs of these photos with "Hallendorf" so I can be certain they are from there. He never mentioned whether the Hallendorf DP camp was divided up into different nationalities, but I can see from a brief first look at your website here that the Latvians had a specific section or maybe even a separate camp. I know from reading that the large camp at Rimini on the Adriatic coast of Italy was divided up according to nationalities, so maybe this was common practice. I am going to look further into your website to see if I can post some of my father's pictures of Hallendorf DP camp here.

    Thank you for your fascinating site and research - it's good to see some recognition and appreciation of the struggles which that generation of people went through to escape persecution.

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    1. Unfortunately there is no facility for others to post photos on my website but it is surprisingly easy (and free) to make your own page with Blogger. You can upload the photos with some key words so that other researchers can find them. I have been contacted by a few historians in relation to my posts so even though it is a niche, there are lots of really interest people out there so it is worth doing.

      Let me know how you go, and if you post them I can put a link on my page to you photos.

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  4. I am in the process of collating my fathers papers. He has a photograph of a football match between DP's and the Army which I believe was taken in 1946 at the Latvian DP Camp 8/10, Hallendorf. He was presented with a carved wooden plate with the old Latvian crest as a gift to commemorate his help working with the Latvian DP's. The plate is dated 31st Dec 1946.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Jennie, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. Do you have a photo of the plate? Would yo mind sharing the photograph of the football match?

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