Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Basket of Songs

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 song. Some of them are popular songs about love and the homeland, others are less well known soldier's songs, at least one appears to be unique to the camp. At this time, I won't be posting full translations for most of these songs -the Leters from Lativa series will be taking priority. If I happen to find a translation online however, I may post a link to it...

The first page is the cover:
The front cover of "Basket of Songs" handwritten by my father at the POW camp in Zedelghem, December 1945

The first song in the book is titled "New Year 1946", it was written about the hardships endured by the Latvians at the Zedelghem POW camp in Belgium where Latvian soldiers were held by the Western Allies. The song is hopeful for a better new year. This would appear to be a unique song and I wonder if anyone has sung it since new years 1946...

Song 1: 1946. gads Jaunais gads - New Year 1946
As per usual, please feel free to post comments below. If you know of any recordings of this song, let me know!

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