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Showing posts from 2013

Basket of Songs 10

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Staburadze (Staburags)In this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.

Song 10 in the book is titled: Staburadze or Staburags.


A high cliff on the banks of the Daugava culturally significant to Latvians but now completely submerged by a Soviet era Hydroelectric dam. A rendition of …

Basket of Songs 9

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Lēni Lūdzot - Gently PleadingIn this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.

Song 9 in the book is titled: Lēni Lūdzot - Gently Pleading.


My heart is troubled, I wish my love was here to comfort me.


A basic (google) translation of this song can be found at Dziesmas.lv along with th…

Basket of Songs 8

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Dzimtenes Meitenes Dziesma - Song of the Girl at HomeIn this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.

Song 8 in the book is titled: Dzimtenes Meitenes Dziesma - Song of the Girl at Home


A real Latvian rushes to defend this most beautiful land on Earth and his girl is wondering wh…

Basket of Songs 7

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BakarollaIn this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.

Song 4 in the book is titled: Bakarolla.


A humorous song about love
Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck recently locating versions of these songs to link. I have a heap of audio cassettes of my father singing and I ma…

Basket of Songs 6

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Rudzu pukes - Cornflowers
In this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.

Song 6 in the book is titled: Rudzu pukes- Cornflowers


Cornflower blue is the sky of my country, cornflower blue are my girl's eyes.
There are other songs by the same name on Youtube however the lyrics d…

Letters from Latvia - Nica 27th of January 1948

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series clickHERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 14th Letter in the series. 


Nica, 27.1.48 We greet you with lots of love, Janis, Lidija and Ilmars!
Yesterday we received your letter written on 25.11 with namesday greetings for mum and me and a few days ago, your greeting for Christmas and the New Year. Thank you so very much for these greetings. We had been waiting for some lines from you for quite a while and had almost begun to worry, but we still thought they’d come. And now they have come! The letter written on 25.11 had taken two weeks longer than usual and came later than the greeting written on 9.12. But now we are so very happy again that everything is well with …

Basket of Songs 5

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Lietus Lāses - RaindropsIn this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.
Song 5 in the book is titled: Lietus Lāses - Raindrops
When raindrops knock on your window, that will be like a quiet greeting from me.
The renditions of this song found on youtube seem too Jazzy to be likel…

Letters From Latvia - Nica 24th December 1947

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Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series clickHERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

Christmas time in Latvia, 1947: The tree decorated is decorated on Christmas eve with candles, the temperature is -15 degrees, the church bells are ringing and snow blankets cover the land. 
Christmas time in Australia 2013: Christmas decorations are on sale in supermarkets starting in October already! No one would dream of attaching a candle to tree outside let alone inside your house and Christmas is characterised by 30 degree + temperatures and total fire bans.
Despite all of the differences, I remember reading Latvian poetry at christmas time, a tradition that connected me (as much as possible for a non-latvian speaker) to the cou…

Basket of Songs 4

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Mirdzot šķēpiem - Gleaming SpearsIn this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.

Song 4 in the book is titled: Mirdzot šķēpiem - Gleaming Spears


Latvian Riflemen enter a town, the girls’ eyes gleam, next morning they go to battle, and the girls then weep and tend the graves.The L…

Letters From Latvia - Nica 16th of December 1947

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series clickHERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

The 12th instalment of the Letters from Latvia series is a little soapy. It deals mostly with Janis' breakup with Vera (the girl at home) and his decision to marry Lidija. This appears to be a little less scandalous now that Janis has apparently explained the circumstances of their breakup. 
The themes to the letter are interesting but even more interesting to me is the subtext. If we look at this letter, and the other letters more broadly we may notice that Katrine's language is deeply philosophical and somewhat poetic. I can't help but think that the original Lativan would be even more so.

Sincere greetings to you, our d…

Basket of Songs 3

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Laša kundze - Mrs SalmonIn this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.


Song 3 in the book is titled: Laša kundze -Mrs Salmon. It is a humorous song.


Great excitement in the deep because the eel is going to marry the salmon.



A rendition of this song can be found on Youtube:



Basket of Songs 2

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Neskumsti meitene - Don't be sad, girl.In this series, I have been posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father.  The book is titled Bakset of Songs: Let our Songs Ring out, Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945. It is also labeled with my father's initials J Č. Click on the following link : Basket of Songs to view the rest of the series.

Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia series has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved. The songs individually over the coming weeks and where I can, I will link to a performance of the melody. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority.


Song 2 in the book is titled: Neskumsti meitene - Don't be sad, girl.
Don’t be sad, girl, that I have to go away. Remember our times together. If you are feeling sad, go to our special pl…

Basket of Songs

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Let our Songs Ring Out!J Č
Brussels Prisoner-of-War Camp December 1945
In this series, I will be posting pages from a hand written song book left to me by my father. Actually I never knew it existed until he died so I never had to opportunity to hear many of these songs. Ilze, who has been doing an incredible job of translating the Letters from Latvia has been kind enough to provide a translation of the song titles and a summary of the themes involved.
Music has always been an important part of Latvian culture. I say it a lot and it is mentioned in may of the letters my father received from Latvia but it really can't be overstated. I did a quick google search and I was pleased to find that this isn't the only songbook to survive the post WWII POW camps. www.latvians.com has an introduction to the Zedelgem POW camp here and they have preserved another Latvian Songbook here
I will be posting the songs individually and where I can I will try to post a link to a performance of the…

Letters From Latvia - Nica 28th of November 1947

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Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series clickHERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

Just a quick post today to keep the letters coming. Again, in this letter are many names of the people who lived near my grandparent's farm in Latvia at the time. It could prove useful to others searching for their family origins. 

Of particular note to me personally, is the mention of Peteris CIRKSIS by my grandmother Katrine CIRKSIS (she shared her name with her daughter, Janis' sister). It is difficult to tell at this point if she has been informed of Peteris' fate however it appears that there is still hope that he is still alive. She also mentions a lighthouse which may turn out to be the final resting place of Peter…

Letters from Latvia - Nica 14th of November 1947

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series clickHERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

It has been a while again since I last posted a letter. This is partially due to me exploring other avenues in relation to my family tree and partially because I have been a bit busy / lazy recently. I am on leave at the moment so I intend to cue up some of the letters to auto publish so that I am releasing them more consistently in the future. 

The next letter in the series has a number of interesting features in terms of life in Latvia directly after WW2 and also on a personal level. My father used to tell me that his mother was a very hard worker and these letters confirm that. In this day and age in Australia, sawing and chopping…

Postcards from Sibīrija (Siberia) - 25/8/1950 From the Pirtnieks

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Finally, the digitising project is finished! I have had about 1500 family photos digitised over the last year or so - several technical problems plagued the project, which is why it took so long. Not all of them relate to this blog but there are several photos that are important to the Čirkšis family history.

One of the benefits of digitising photographs - and publishing a blog about them - is that you take a closer look at things. Many of the photos I have, have Latvian writing on the back of them. A lot of the writing is illegible, at least for a non-Latvian-speaker (I know I should learn!) but occasionally I can decipher enough to work out what the photo is of.

This particular photo had been sitting in an album and I had never taken it out to examine it though, I had some idea that it must be the Pirtneiks (my grandmother's) side of the family. Today, while I was checking off the scanned photos to ensure they were all there, I glanced at the back and found some very clearly wr…

Who is Peteris Čirkšis?

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As some of you will know, for about a year now I have been trying to discover what happened to my lost uncle Peteris Čirkšis. As with many things in my family history, I neglected to ask questions of my family members while I had to opportunity. Perhaps I was too young to care about history, perhaps like most young people, I thought I knew everything already. But also I think I was probably too young to know what questions to ask.

So what do I know about Peteris?

I know he was the son of a farmer who was able to acquire a small patch of land after the Latvian war of independence.  He was born in 1922 in Nīca near Liepājas, Latvia and died in 1941 at the hands of the NAZIs. These are the facts. But who was he really?

The only account I have of Peteris' life comes from what I remember my father telling me about him. But memory is a fragile thing, second hand memory is even worse. As a researcher what I want is confirmed and verified facts. State documents, personal diaries and lett…